(8-7-18) RVC Athletic Director and Women’s Basketball Head Coach Misty Opat has accepted a job as Head Coach for the women’s basketball program at Division I Chicago State University.
In her nine seasons at the helm for the Golden Eagles, Opat amassed a record of 229-70 (.766) and won four NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) national championships. She also led her teams to runner-up finishes at the national tournament in 2014 and 2018, and compiled a career record of 16-2 in national tournament play. Opat won numerous Coach of the Year awards at the conference, regional, and national level over the last nine years, including Spalding® NJCAA Division III Women’s Coach of the Year two times, Coach of the NJCAA DIII National Tournament four times, and Illinois Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA) NJCAA Division III Women’s Coach of the Year six times.
As a clear example of her eye for talent, Opat has coached 11 NJCAA All-Americans and 34 of her players have gone on to play at four-year schools after RVC.
Opat guided her Golden Eagles to eight consecutive conference championships in the North Central Community College Conference (N4C), a streak in which her teams went 93-6 versus conference opponents. Over her nine-year RVC career, Opat’s teams went 100-13 (.884) in conference play.
Opat has also served as RVC’s Athletic Director since 2011. In her time leading the department, she has been instrumental in transforming RVC into a national powerhouse. Under her leadership, the program won 13 NJCAA national championships in five different sports, while expanding from four full-time coaches to seven. In her tenure, the college also added women’s and men’s soccer and bowling as intercollegiate sports.
Beyond focusing on her own program, Opat has made a commitment to giving back to the community and engaging in community partnerships. Student-athletes and coaches in her program have spent time reading to kids at schools, coaching at basketball camps for persons with special needs, volunteering at food kitchens, and working with Habitat for Humanity, just to name a few. Her work with local high school leaders resulted in the development of hugely successful annual events hosted at RVC, including Rumble in the Rock and the Rising Stars Classic.
Most recently, Opat’s work in conjunction with the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau led to RVC playing host to the NJCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament last March and the upcoming NJCAA Division III Women’s Soccer Tournament, which will be held in Rockford in November.
“I want to thank Rock Valley College and the greater Rockford area for their amazing support of me and my family over the past nine years. Mark Maneval, the Athletic Director when I was hired, gave me the opportunity to lead Rock Valley College women’s basketball as my first head coaching position, and I am eternally grateful to him. This championship ride has surpassed even my wildest dreams of what RVC athletics could become. None of this would have been possible without the amazing coaches and many student-athletes we have had come through RVC who bought into my vision of excellence. I sincerely appreciate the support from the Board of Trustees and, most recently, our president, Dr. Jensen, and his wife, Karen, who truly believe in the student first mission. I also want to thank all of the staff and faculty who helped and supported us throughout this journey. We never could have accomplished what we did without you. I know that RVC athletics will continue to have sustained excellence and top-notch leadership with the current staff, and will continue to serve as the front porch of this amazing institution for a long time to come.”
RVC President, Dr. Doug Jensen
“We are excited for this opportunity for Misty and her family. Misty is a very special person and will be missed at Rock Valley College. Misty was committed to this community, she has a heart of service, and is dedicated to her student-athletes on and off the court. Misty will not be forgotten. I will miss her very much.”
Jim Ryan, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
“I am very happy for Misty, sad that she is leaving us, but proud that yet another RVC coach is advancing levels in NCAA athletics throughout the country. It is very rare for a head basketball coach to make the leap from a community college to the Division I level. But that just shows how talented and respected Misty is, and she will do great things at Chicago State. We can’t replace a Misty Opat. But what we can do is to continue to build upon what is already considered one of the best athletic departments in the NJCAA, and that is in large part to Misty Opat’s efforts and the systems she has built for the RVC athletic program.”
Prior to RVC, Opat accumulated seven years of NCAA Division I coaching experience. From 1999-2002 she served as an assistant coach at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she also served as the Recruiting Coordinator. She also held assistant coaching positions at Fresno State University (1998-99) and the University of Kansas (1995-1998) where she was also heavily involved in recruiting and scouting.
Opat earned an Associate of Science degree from Garden City Community College in Garden City, Kansas, where she was a two-year team captain in basketball and was named to the all-conference and all-region teams in both seasons. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas, where she earned NAIA All-American honors as a player. Opat then went on to obtain a Master of Science in Sports Administration from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas.
Opat’s last day at RVC will be August 9.