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August 27, 2020
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Dwight's boys basketball team celebrates a victory in 2018. The Trojans underwent a plethora of changes this summer, including a new athletic director, two new conferences and a new girls basketball coach.

Daily Journal/David Volden

Dwight has new AD, girls hoops coach for 2020-21,

Dwight tiene nuevo entrenador de baloncesto de AD, niñas para 2020-21,

By Cody Smith

Despite not having high school sports because of the global pandemic, Dwight Township High School and its athletic department have been busier than most this summer.

During the summer, the Trojans found both a new athletic director and girls basketball coach. Former athletic director Andrew Pittenger will become the school’s new principal, and administration wanted his replacement to be someone who is familiar with the area.

The school chose Cathy Ferguson, a Dwight native who has spent more than 10 years in the administration of Dwight’s grade school, as well as being a part of the high school for the past couple of years.

“It’s my hometown; this is my place; it’s my zone, and I love it here,” Ferguson said. “Everyone here is welcoming, and I have been here at Dwight for the past five years, and this will be my sixth year back.

“When they offered me the position, I was a little surprised, but I was thrilled. Everyone knows I have a passion for it.”

Ferguson spoke heavily about the importance of communication. She said she feels as though that’s the most important thing an athletic director needs to do in order for its athletic department to succeed, especially when dealing with a pandemic.

“To me, communication is key always, especially with the coaches,” Ferguson said. “It’s not like there’s going to be a major change with me in charge. Andrew Pittenger, my predecessor, who’s now the principal, did an excellent job with the coaches and kids. I’m huge in communication, and I like to see what coaches want and see what we can do.”

Going forward, Ferguson said she believes it’s best for her to take a more off-hands approach when dealing with Dwight athletics. She wants to let her coaches have their necessary freedoms and only intervene when they need assistance with something.

“I let the coaches do their own things, but if there’s issues, naturally, you’ve got to step in,” Ferguson said. “You let the people who know what they are doing best, do things. And then when they need guidance in something they have somewhere to come. From there, we will figure things out together if they need answers.”

Along with Ferguson, Dwight also added Chuck Butterbrodt who is set to take over as the new head basketball coach for Dwight’s girls varsity team next season.

Butterbrodt will take over a Trojan team that finished 12-14 overall and 4-2 in the Sangamon Valley Conference last season.

Butterbrodt will get the opportunity to coach Dwight’s lone All-Area and All-Conference player, Kayla Kodat, who will be a senior this fall.

Trojans heading to Tri-County Conference

Along with new faces, the Trojans will have a new conference home beginning in 2021-22. After announcing their departure from the crumbling Sangamon Valley Conference earlier this summer, the Trojans will call the Tri-County Conference their new home for a majority of their sports.

“I think it will be great,” Ferguson said of the move. “I think it’s a positive for Dwight. We definitely needed a conference to get into, and we’re just very glad that they’re accepting us in.”

Earlier this month, the Trojans joined fellow SVC mates Central, Momence and Seneca in a football-only move to the Vermilion Valley Conference. That move was predicated by Cissna Park, Iroquois West and Watseka leaving for the VVC in all sports. Paxton-Buckley-Loda left for the Illini Prairie Conference.

This news greatly helped the Trojans to maintain their rivalry with Seneca, a rivalry held over from the old Interstate Eight Conference days. The Irish were the one team of the SVC that Ferguson definitely wanted to keep competing against.

“For us, Seneca is always our great local rivalry in all our sports,” Ferguson said. “So, Seneca is definitely a team we want to still compete against.”

Dwight (official IHSA enrollment of 253 1/2) will become the conference’s third-largest member by enrollment, behind only Seneca (440) and Putnam County (280 1/2). All other schools in the TCC have current enrollments between 108-200 1/2.

The Tri-County Conference includes current members Woodland, Putnam County, Marquette, Midland, Henry-Senachwine, Roanoke-Benson, Lowpoint-Washburn and Seneca. DePue and Peoria Christian left the league at the end of last school year.

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Dwight’s Kayla Kodat connects with a pitch during a 2018 game. Kodat and the Trojans will be competing in the Tri-County Conference beginning in 2021-22.

Daily Journal/File