Like any high school coach, BJ Chitty has always had a goal to coach at one of the highest levels possible.
Chitty has achieved that goal early in his professional career.
The former four-sport athlete at Northview who guided the Cottonwood girls and boys basketball teams this past year has been named the new head boys basketball coach at Dothan High School. He replaces Todd Taylor.
“I am ecstatic for the experience I am about to get to add to my resume,” Chitty said. “The fact that I am 26 years old coaching at a Class 6A school is surprising. I always knew the opportunity would come, but I never thought it would come so fast. I am at a loss for words.
“I can’t describe how grateful I am for the opportunity. When I got the call and they told me I would be the head coach, it was crazy. I didn’t know how to feel. (I am feeling) excitement, scared, but overall I am happy. I feel it is a great opportunity, another stepping stone to show what I can do.”
What he showed at Cottonwood was an ability to turn programs around.
He took over a girls team that had lost 120 of its previous 122 games over six seasons, including a 103-game losing streak, and directed the team to 13 wins over two seasons, including 11-14 this past year.
Chitty took the reins of the boys program this season after the team went 0-23 and he guided the program to a 7-19 record, the most wins for the Bears boys team since 2013-14.
With Chitty taking over as Dothan head coach, the basketball rivalry between the two city schools now has an interesting twist. Both boys head coaches attended one city school and are now coaching the other. Janasky Fleming, Northview’s veteran coach, graduated from Dothan in 1990. Chitty is a 2010 Northview graduate who played under Fleming while in a Cougar uniform.
“I don’t take it as strange,” Chitty said of being at the other school from his alma mater. “It is different. It definitely is different, but like I said, I am grateful for the opportunity no matter where it is at. Anywhere I go, I will give it my all and give everything I have for that program. I will represent that program.
“I graduated a Northview Cougar. Right now, I am a Dothan Tiger.”
The basketball rivalry also got another twist because of the Chitty hire.
“It is the teacher against the student now,” Chitty said of facing Fleming. “It will be a great, great match-up.”
The two matched up last year when their teams met at the Carroll Tournament in November. Fleming’s 6A Cougars easily beat Chitty’s 2A Bears, 76-23.
“That will probably be the weirdest thing – facing him,” Chitty said. “I went up against him last year, but going up against him this year will be a little different because of the level of competition. I definitely have a team now that can compete (against him) and be physical along with the intensity that he brings to the game.”
The new Tiger coach said former teammates and classmates have already begun teasing him about his move from cardinal and gold to red and black.
“They are giving me a hard time and they are calling me ‘Traitor,’ but it is all fun,” Chitty said. “They know it’s just business and nothing personal.”
Chitty already has a major goal in place at Dothan.
“I want to bring winning back to Dothan High,” Chitty said. “I want to bring that vibe back. We want to play with intensity.”
The Tigers finished 10-16 last year and barely reached .500 the year before, going 15-13.
It starts, said Chitty, with discipline.
“I will instill discipline,” Chitty said. “We will do everything the right way.”
With his schedule full with two teams last year, Chitty said he didn’t get to see Dothan play last year, but he has talked to others who did and has also watched film of last year’s team.
“From what I know, from what I have heard and seen on film, they have tremendous talent and great athletes,” Chitty said. “It is a very young team. I have some ninth graders that will be the sophomore class next year and that is a pretty strong group coming up.”
After watching the players on film, he already has an idea of what the Tigers might be like on the court under his direction.
“I have a nice-sized team, some good young talent, some good speed-type ability, so we will push the pace this year,” Chitty said. “I am going to see how much they can stand with pushing the pace endurance. We have to have good cardio sessions, good workouts in the weight room and we have to play physical.”
The coaching job won’t be Chitty’s first experience at Dothan High. He spent the spring of 2016 as a volunteer coach with the football Tigers.
Chitty, who earned a degree in criminal justice from Troy University, will teach a law enforcement class at Dothan as he did at Cottonwood. He will also coach wide receivers for the football team.
While attending school at Northview, Chitty lettered in football, basketball, baseball and track and field (junior year only). He signed a football scholarship to Troy and excelled with the Trojans from 2011-14, catching 80 passes in his career for 701 yards with six touchdowns.