Over the last few years, Michelle Dobbs has had a front-row seat to the end of her mother's 20-year run as a varsity girls basketball coach.
But the final time Kay Dobbs coaches high school girls basketball, her oldest daughter will be absent.
Both are a bit disappointed by this, but Michelle has a very good excuse: she's running in a junior national track meet in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday – the same day Kay will coach the Telegraph team in the SVM All-Star Classic.
"It's too bad they landed on the same day, but this is an opportunity she couldn't pass up," Kay said. "She was really looking forward to playing one last basketball game, but this meet will help her prepare for her college track career."
The meet, run in conjunction with the U.S. outdoor national championships at Drake Stadium, was something Michelle had been looking forward to. After breaking the Class 2A state record in winning the 800 meters last month, the Rochelle senior started searching for a chance to run at the national level.
The first one she found was the New Balance Nationals, in North Carolina. But Rochelle was running a youth track meet that same weekend, and Michelle wanted to help out with that. So the search continued.
"I didn't even know this one with the USA national championships existed until I found it on the internet," Michelle said. "I saw my time was good enough to qualify, and I thought I'd give it a shot.
"It's kind of crazy, seeing some of the names who are going to run in the national championships. I'm not running in the professional races, obviously, but to even be in the same meet and on the same stage as some of these famous athletes is just amazing."
Kay, not surprisingly, is one proud mother. And while the retiring Rochelle coach would love to have her daughter – and one of her best players – around for her final game, on the track is one of the few places she's just as happy for Michelle to be.
Still, just like Michelle was when she was a little girl, Kay was thrilled to be courtside Monday at the Telegraph practice. She's looking forward to the fun-filled atmosphere an all-star game provides, and feels she'll enjoy the scene as much as she knows her players will.
"I've already missed it a little, and it was fun to be back in the gym," Kay said. "It's bittersweet being done, but it's going to be fun to be able to get back out on the court one last time.
"I'm going to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere, be able to take things in a little more when it's not the do-or-die situation of a regional game. I've coached in one other all-star game, and it's always so fun to see all the players so appreciative and excited for one last hurrah."
Kay, who will remain at Rochelle's middle school as a physical education teacher, is planning on whetting her basketball coaching appetite by taking over the eighth-grade girls program. That season lasts 8 weeks instead of 4 months, and she knows it won't wear her out as as much as the past 2 decades as a varsity coach.
As for Michelle, she's facing some big changes as well. The Rochelle valedictorian is headed to the University of Chicago to run track, and her mom has no doubt she'll be just as big a leader by example in college as she was at the high-school level.
And after she runs in Des Moines, she'll more than likely be in touch with her mom about what's going on at the SVM All-Star Classic.
"I'd just tell her and all the girls to go out and have fun playing basketball one more time," Michelle said. "There are big changes ahead for both of us, but I think she knew it was the right time to leave, and I agree with her. It's going to be different, but it will have its positives … just like us being able to go through the ups and downs together the past few years."
Kay Dobbs file
School: Rochelle High School
Position: Varsity girls basketball coach, middle school p.e. teacher
Family: Husband John, daughters Michelle (18) and Niki (15)
Years coaching: 21, including last 16 at Rochelle (last 15 as head coach); spent 9 years at Davenport (Iowa) Assumption, including final 5 as head coach (took team to fourth in state in final season of 1995)
Record at Rochelle: 243-160 (all-time winningest girls coach at school)
FYI: Retired as Hubs varsity girls coach following last season. … Went 54-28 over last 3 years with Michelle on team. … Michelle was two-time NIB-12 East player of the year and two-time special mention IBCA all-state in basketball, and is seventh all-time in Hubs history in scoring (913 points) and third in rebounding (570). … Michelle won 2A state title in 800 last month, setting new class record of 2:10.78; she placed third in race in 2012.
SVM All-Star Classic
When: 5 p.m. Thursday
Where: Sauk Valley Community College