More than a coach

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 22, 2005

MURFREESBORO – In a way, C.J. Donnelly has been preparing for this job his whole life.

After almost a year of being in charge of the finances for Chowan College’s Athletic Department, Donnelly has come to realize that the lessons he has learned coaching make his fiscal responsibilities that much easier.

&uot;I am only as strong as the people around me and if they buy into the system and we can work well together then we will be successful – just like a basketball team,&uot; Donnelly said.

Donnelly is the assistant men’s basketball coach and assistant to the athletic director, both under Jim Tribbett.

Donnelly was put in charge of the financial matters of the Athletic Department – an area that was in the red when he the responsibility last year.

Since he was given the financial reigns, Donnelly brought the program out of the red and gave the department some much needed breathing room.

&uot;Each program in the department knew the deal when I came in and knew what had to be done,&uot; Donnelly insisted. &uot;Each of them has worked extremely hard to stay within their means and I applaud each one of them.&uot;

Donnelly notes that one of the most important aspects of fiscal responsibility is the ability to say no.

&uot;We all have to work within our means and have our limits,&uot; Donnelly said. &uot;The question to ask is if you just want it or do you really need it.&uot;

Donnelly asks himself the same question everyday, &uot;How can we improve the department,&uot;

&uot;Do we need paint, a scoreboard, a new field, even a new table,&uot; Donnelly asked. &uot;Those are all the different things that you have to weigh to improve the department, as long as it is all within your means.&uot;

But with every aspect that Donnelly mentions, he is quick to give credit where he believes credit is due.

&uot;I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by people that make my job easy,&uot; Donnelly said. &uot;My success comes through their success and if they’re responsible the whole department benefits.&uot;

But the years ahead will bring new challenges, as Chowan’s jump to Division-II presents more financial issues to deal with, including scholarships and facility upgrades.

&uot;We actually have a huge head start for many D-II schools and even most schools in North Carolina as far as facilities go,&uot; Donnelly said. &uot;But we’re always trying to upgrade our programs to generate interest, both in the community and among alumni.&uot;

That interest is another aspect that Donnelly believes is crucial to success.

Already both the men’s and women’s basketball teams have created a great deal of buzz the last couple of years, and it’s that kind of excitement that Donnelly believes must spread throughout the department.

&uot;Now that we’ve evened out financially, we’ve really started to grow support-wise,&uot; Donnelly said. &uot;If we can build on that support and create some excitement, then only good things can happen.&uot;

But he also notes that scholarships, a great playing field and excitement about the program do not necessarily equal success.

&uot;Once we upgrade our whole presentation, then the talent will come with it,&uot; Donnelly said.

Talent is something that has grown from the basketball program where Donnelly’s true heart lies. But from the lessons he’s learned from basketball and from being a coach Donnelly knows the importance of a team and what a group can do if they work together.

&uot;It’s not just me that has caused this turnaround,&uot; Donnelly notes. &uot;We each have our specific job and I am only as strong as the people around me.&uot;

&uot;I’ve just been lucky to have the people I have,&uot; he closed.