ROCKFORD – Our Catching up at City Market segment brought former Rock Valley women’s basketball coach and athletic director Misty Opat to the Indoor Market this past Friday to talk some basketball. Opat is getting ready for her 2nd season at Chicago State.
She’s finding Chicago State to be a challenging place to coach. Budget problems the past few years have taken their toll on the entire athletic department, so she’s trying to do what she can to help right the ship with the women’s basketball team. The Lady Cougars finished 2-28 last year, but the two wins were twice as many as the team managed in the previous two seasons combined. Opat is doing her part to help change the culture.
“We’re returning five kids, bringing in ten new ones,” Opat said. “The kids have won 83 percent of their games where they were at. So they know how to win. That can’t be underestimated at all.”
Opat has never taken the approach of scheduling cupcakes to try to bolster a record.
“We have to play the best to learn to become the best,” she said. “We open against Illinois. We come home and play Arizona. We have Wisconsin-Green Bay on our schedule.”
The four-time national champion coach at RVC is putting her Chicago State players through a tough summer, hoping it pays off in the winter.
“We’re doing strength and conditioning and skill development workouts 4-5 days a week,” Opat said. “In addition we’re doing some community service. Our players came and volunteered at Fred’s [VanVleet] camp. We’re also doing mentoring Mondays where we have some prominent women in the city come speak to the team about their future and their careers.”
Opat still lives in Rockford and commutes to Chicago everyday. She remains close to the Golden Eagles that she helped take to prominence.
“Being a member of this community and my love for Rock Valley,” Opat said. “I try to stay back and let Darin [Monroe] and his team doing their thing. But I also wanted to support the girls I had recruited there and the athletic department we helped build. Rock Valley will forever have a piece of my heart.”
A couple of years after leaving RVC, Opat is trying to turn another program into a winner.