He’s won a national championship, coached in an AFC Championship game, and, at 35 years and counting, is the longest-tenured Division I football coach to hail from Wichita.
But Kirk Doll, a 1969 West High graduate, has worked in the anonymity that accompanies being an assistant coach. The hours are long and the recognition is minimal, but Doll never minded.
So it felt unusual for Doll to step into the forefront Saturday afternoon when he joined nine others being inducted into the Wichita Sports Hall of Fame at a ceremony at Hillside Christian Church. It quickly became an emotional day for Doll.
“There are only so many events in your life that stand out,” a teary-eyed Doll said, “and this will definitely be one of them.”
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Other inductees included Ron Allen (East boys basketball coach), Bob Hanson (Wichita Sports Commission president), Alex Harden (WSU women’s basketball), Charles Koch (WSU booster), Ernie Moore (WSU men’s basketball), Roy Oeser (Kapaun wrestler), Bill Oswalt (South baseball coach), Don Racine (Bishop Carroll girls basketball coach), Ricky Ross (South basketball), and Marci Williams (bowler).
While some opted for humor in their acceptance speeches, like Racine, who had the crowd howling by closing his speech thanking officials during his 33 years of coaching for “letting me help them officiate,” Doll’s was one of the most emotional speeches.
Doll, an assistant coach at East Carolina, was moved that his mother, along with close friends, old classmates and a few coaching mentors, were in attendance.
“There’s not enough time to express my gratitude,” Doll said. “It took a lot of people and a lot sacrifices over the years, from family to coaches to just special people in my life. I’m overwhelmed by it, to be honest. This is just a very memorable day for me.”
Some might remember Doll on the LSU staff in 2004 that included Nick Saban (currently at Alabama), Will Muschamp (Auburn), and Jimbo Fisher (Florida State) and went on to win the national championship over Oklahoma.
Doll also coached special teams for the Denver Broncos, along with coaching stints at San Jose State, Tulsa, Arizona State, Notre Dame, and Texas A&M twice.
While fans will remember the big games that his teams won over the years, Doll will remember the bonds forged with his players.
“You go into coaching for the players,” Doll said. “This is a great honor and I’m very appreciative of it, but those phone calls I get from them, hearing from them how great they are doing in life, that’s just awesome.”
Doll is East Carolina’s special teams coordinator and running backs coach. In fact, East Carolina’s spring game was Saturday afternoon and at approximately halftime when Doll took the stage.
“I’m going to catch a lot of grief for missing it from the other assistants,” Doll said with a laugh.
But don’t worry, forever the assistant coach, Doll found some way to make the trip home worth it for his team.
“I’m actually going to be out here the rest of the week recruiting now,” Doll said. “It kind of worked out for both sides.”