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Basketball Coach Wins National Honor

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JUNCTION CITY, Ore. — A local high school coach is celebrating four decades on the court, but recently he was recognized for much more than the length of his career.

Friday marked Coach Craig Rothenberger’s 1,003rd game as a head boys basketball coach. He spent the majority of those games supervising from the sidelines in Junction City. That’s exactly where he spent Friday night, not only racking up that historical game, but tacking on another career-defining honor.

Rothenberger’s resume is 44 years long. His professional experience is diverse, listing everything from teaching to coaching three different sports, nearly three decades as athletic director for the Tigers, and then there’s his basketball career. He coached his 1000th game just last week, and on Friday he added yet another accolade.

“It gives me great privilege to announce this year’s Oregon Boys Basketball Coach of the Year to Mr. Craig Rothenberger,” said Rob Younger, Oregon Athletic Coaches Association spokesman. “When we look at coach of the year in the state of Oregon, we look at lots of criteria. First one is of course their success on and off the court. Craig has had an outstanding career here at Junction City, 33 years here. He does a great job in the classroom, as athletic director, as boys basketball coach.”

But as Younger went on to explain, Coach Rothenberger’s recognition didn’t stop at the state level.

“Craig was selected this past fall as our boys basketball coach of the year for our state, which is a tremendous honor in itself, and then he went up against the Section 8 coaches, which are the six Northwest states, and he was selected as the coach of the year for our section,” Younger said.

From there, Younger says the association decided to nominate Coach Rothenberger for its highest honor.

“Because of his outstanding achievements, on the court but probably more importantly off the court, it gives me great pleasure to announce that Coach Rothenberger was chosen as the 2012 top boys basketball coach in the United States,” Younger said.

It was clear by the boom from the bleachers, that not just the OACA, but the entire community agreed the coach deserved this distinction.

“He’s committed himself not just to basketball, but to this community, and I think what we wanted to do is recognize coaches that service the well-rounded student athlete, and you just can’t get a better mentor for young people, and in a lot of way he’s Mr. Junction City,” Younger said.

“It never even crossed my mind that it would be something that I would have the opportunity for, but I, just knowing that other people recognize what you’ve done with your life is important, so it’s important to me,” Rothenberger said.

Coach Rothenberger will receive his official plaque and be recognized yet again at the OACA Awards banquet in May. He says he doesn’t know if he’ll retire after that, but he says this year wouldn’t be a bad one to end on.

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