Skaggs moves on to DACC
DANVILLE — Challenges are as much a part of Randy Skaggs' coaching resume as success. A new one awaits.
Skaggs will take over as the softball head coach at Danville Area Community College. He replaces Dave Strebin, who resigned after three seasons.
"One thing I've always wanted is to coach at the collegiate level and try it," said Skaggs, who has been a high school coach for multiple sports since 1979. "I thought this would be a good opportunity."
Skaggs won't shortchange the Jaguars. Six days ago, he resigned from all teaching and coaching duties at Schlarman, where he was the softball head coach and had been hired to coach football.
He takes over a DACC program (28-20 this year) that's in better shape overall than when his 12-year softball coaching stint began at Schlarman.
Five years prior to Skaggs coaching softball at Schlarman in 2001, the Hilltoppers didn't have enough players to field a team. In an earlier stretch from 1990 to '94, Schlarman won six softball games.
A year ago, Skaggs' Hilltoppers (38-3) placed second at state in Class 1A. Eight of his final nine teams won at least 20 games on the field.
He is not concerned with learning the recruiting aspect of junior college softball.
"When you break it down, why come to DACC?" Skaggs said. "Why are we different? Everyone will play games. Everyone has the academics. Everyone usually takes (spring) trips.
"My thing is, what will make DACC different is how much I know about the game and I will help them with their education, making sure they do the best they can do. I will make sure they get to a four-year college, whether it's for academics or if they desire to play softball, I will help that way.
"I want the kids and their parents to understand, they will get a lot of personal caring. I will make sure they are doing the things they are supposed to be doing. I look at it as they trusted them to me and I will keep them as safe as possible and help them prepare for their future lives."
DACC athletic director Tim Bunton said he received inquiries from five individuals. Bunton liked Skaggs' approach.
"Randy has a passion for it," Bunton said. "He is structured. He is disciplined and will demand that his players go to school, which is important to us. He will demand things (in softball) that hopefully will allow us to compete at a high level."
Skaggs will continue to organize summer softball teams for the East Central Illinois travel program he started in 2000, but he will step aside from the coaching to avoid conflicts. Junior college coaches are not permitted to work with their players in the offseason.
This year, ECI has 10-and-under, 12-and-under, 14-and-under and 18-and-under teams. In 2013, it will add a 16-and-under team as well as a 23-and-under squad so DACC athletes will have the chance to play in the offseason.
When not involved with DACC — which has 10 fall dates — Skaggs, 55, will substitute and devote more time to an athletic training business he opened at his home in 2004.
He had about 300 clients last year at HIS Place Sports, a facility that features four indoor batting cages. Most athletes he works with are in baseball, softball, basketball or volleyball.
"I will expand that to more full time," Skaggs said.
DACC will retain nine players from last year. Among the three signees are Westville's Abby Barth and Paxton-Buckley-Loda's J.J. Valentine.
"I hope to carry 18 to 20 players," Skaggs said. "I want plenty of depth, and numbers like that will increase the competition for positions."
Coaching softball will be easy compared to the other imminent task on Skaggs' list.
"The toughest part is leaving the kids (at Schlarman)," he said. "That place has been my home for so long, but this might be one of my last chances to go to the college level."
Meanwhile, Schlarman promoted football assistant Catlin Crozier to head coach.