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D-III conference coaches look beyond record to honor coach who led team through tragic circumstances

Otterbein (D-III - OH) head coach Tim Doup was chosen by his Ohio Athletic Conference Peers as the league's Coach of the Year recently.

In touching fashion, the honor from his colleagues had little to do with Otterbein's record on the season, as the Cardinals finished 2-8, but instead had everything to do with how he led his program in the face of tragedy.

Early this season, during practice for their week 1 game in early September, Doup had to stand in front of his roster of 140 players and deliver the terrible news that star defensive lineman, and returning all-league performer Nigel Chatman had passed as a result of a car accident on the way to their morning practice. The next day, Doup and the team found the strength to take the field and they battled to a 22-10 loss.

Then, 48 hours later, surrounded by those that loved Chatman, Doup spoke at Nigel's funeral. Doup ended that emotional speech by announcing that no player at Otterbein would ever wear Nigel's #97 ever again.

"This award is not just for me," Doup shared via a release from Otterbein. "This goes to our entire coaching staff, the young men in our program for showing up every day and, most importantly, for Nigel. I've learned that a large piece of coaching is how you handle adversity, or how you talk others through adversity. We had a lot more things work against us this year than some might have realized, but our kids continued showing up. Not every day is easy, but we do it together and care of one another."

When Doup learned of the honor, he did his best to talk his conference friends out of doing it...but it didn't work.

"This is one of the classiest things I have ever been part of in my life," he shared.

"I'm fortunate to work with a group of coaches that truly care about one another and get along. Not every conference is like that. I tried to talk them out of it but nobody would listen. I am humbled, and truly honored that they respect me in this way."

A few seasons ago, something similar happened in Division III's Heartland College Athletic Conference, as the league's coaches honored Earlham's first-year head coach Nick Johnson with the league's coach of the year award for the way that Johnson led the Quakers program in the face of tremendous adversity as his wife battled serious health issues.

See the full release from Otterbein here.