Former WLU Hoops Coach Crutchfield Displays Tennis Skills
Dorsey teams up with former WLU coach in father’s tourney
WHEELING — It’s no secret that former West Liberty men’s basketball coach Jim Crutchfield knows how to manage and lead a basketball team on the hardwood.
But on Friday, the current coach of NCAA Division II program Nova Southeastern in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. showcased his own talents on the tennis court.
He returned home to Wheeling to team up with doubles partner Dr. Tom Dorsey in the Jack Dorsey Memorial Senior Open Tennis Tournament at Oglebay Park. The event is named after Tom Dorsey’s late father.
“I play tennis here in the summer a lot,” Crutchfield said. “Dr. Tom Dorsey called me to see if I wanted to play with him and I said ‘absolutely’. He is a good guy and the tournament is named after his father.”
For Dorsey, it means a lot to continue carrying on his father’s legacy in this tournament and choosing his doubles partner was an easy decision.
“I worked the tournament for 20 years with my dad. He traveled all over the country and had a national ranking. It’s unfortunate when talent skips a generation,” Dorsey said with a laugh. “That’s tragic and that’s why I’m a club player.
“I love playing with Jim. He’s a hustler. He never gives up and is always positive. So we have a good time out there win or lose. We’ve played together before and he is a great player.”
Crutchfield spent 15 years coaching tennis at West Liberty and was thrilled for the opportunity to come back and hit the clay.
“I enjoy playing tennis up here,” Crutchfield said. “I enjoy all of the camaraderie with all of the guys here and when my daughters were in high school, I used to bring them here and play tennis with them.
“It kind of releases stress a little bit, too. I even find that after a stressful game in Florida — because I can play tennis all year long in Florida — I’m usually hitting the ball a little harder and wilder the next day after a bad game trying to get that stress out. It’s a good release for me and it’s good exercise.”
There weren’t many bad games for his Sharks this past campaign. Crutchfield led his squad to the DII Elite Eight and a 29-4 record. Not bad for a team that went 6-20 the year before his arrival.
“It was a great year,” Crutchfield said. “Things went right and it has been a great adventure.
“I went there to see if I could help change another basketball program. It wasn’t about Fort Lauderdale, which is nice. The weather is nice and the university is incredible but the real reason I went there was to help change the culture.
“The most exciting thing I’ve ever done at West Liberty was changing the culture and I wanted to see if I could do it again or if it was just luck. But things are going pretty well right now.”
David Dennis was a key reason for the Sharks’ success last season as he averaged 15.8 points a game. He played for Crutchfield at West Liberty and joined him in the transition to Nova.
Now, Dennis has signed to play in the top league in Germany.
“It’s just amazing to me that there are two guys in the same league from West Liberty in Seger Bonifant and Dan Monteroso,” Crutchfield said. “Now, they’ll get to play against each other.”
Although he is focused on his Sharks, Crutchfield still keeps an eye on the Hilltoppers when he can.
“I still follow them the best that I can,” Crutchfield said. “I recruited those players and I’m still cheering for them like crazy. They had a great run again last year.
“The incredible thing is I still get contacted by so many fans from up here and some West Liberty fans flew out and watched us in the national tournament. It’s amazing how many people here are following what is going on there. I really appreciate the fans here and I’m flattered and amazed by that.”