Doyle named Strasburg’s new boys basketball coach

Following months of turmoil, Strasburg High School’s boys basketball program took a step in the rebuilding process with the hiring of a new varsity head coach.

Hamilton Doyle will take over as the Rams’ head coach effective Aug. 1, a hiring approved by the Shenandoah County School Board last week.

Doyle will head a program forced to forfeit the second half of its 2015-16 season amidst an investigation into allegations of student misconduct on a bus carrying members of Strasburg’s varsity and junior varsity boys basketball teams following an away game last December. Seven students were suspended in connection with the incident, which came to light in January, and later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault or battery by mob, while three students were eventually expelled from school for 365 days.

Doyle replaces former Rams head coach Matt Hiserman, who remains as Strasburg’s athletic director.

The 54-year-old Doyle said he “thrives” in coaching situations where he’s tasked with guiding a program through adversity.

“I think the challenge of going to something that needs to be rebuilt and stuff is, I mean for me as a person, that makes my blood run and gives me a challenge as a coach to try to be the best that I can be to help (the players) be the best that they can be,” Doyle said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon.

“I like challenges like that,” he added. “That’s where I think I do my best work.”

Doyle will come to Strasburg following a one-year stint as the varsity boys basketball coach at Bertie High School in Windsor, North Carolina. Last winter, Bertie went 15-11 overall and advanced to the second round of the 64-team North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2A state tournament. The season included Bertie’s first 100-point game in the program’s history, Doyle said, as well as the school’s first-ever victory over Beddingfield High School by way of an upset victory in the first round of the state tournament.

Doyle said his interest in moving north to Strasburg was the result of a couple factors. It will allow him to be closer to his son, Joshua, who plays baseball for Coppin State University in Baltimore, and his new coaching position will present a bigger challenge than he was afforded at Bertie, a school that Doyle said has a strong, established basketball tradition.

“I think because they (Bertie) already have a tradition and they’re not starting in that sense, that it’s easy for somebody to come in and continue working with that program as opposed to taking a program right now that’s fractured,” Doyle said. “I think that’s more a challenge to me and something that maybe we’ll be able to put a positive spin on and try to take it a little bit further than what it’s been before.”

Doyle will be the third different head coach for Strasburg’s varsity boys basketball team in the last three years. Millson French held that title for 39 years before retiring in 2013, after which Hiserman took over in that capacity.

During the 2014-15 season, Hiserman guided the Rams to an appearance in the Virginia High School League Region 2A East tournament semifinals, where they finished one win shy of their first state tournament appearance since 2000. Prior to the 2015-16 season, Strasburg had reached the regional tournament for three straight years. The Rams were 7-5 this past winter before their season was suspended in January.

Doyle, an Indiana native who played college baseball and football at Cal Poly Pomona and later the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, began his coaching career in his home state before moving to New Mexico in 1999, where he continued to coach before moving to North Carolina last year, he said.

Doyle said his basketball teams traditionally incorporate multiple defensive schemes coupled with a motion offense.

“I like running motion offenses because you can come in and you can start offensively where the kids are skill-wise and then build on that,” Doyle said.

Doyle, who will also teach social studies at Strasburg, said he and his wife, who is also a teacher, won’t be moving to the area until the end of the July, giving him a little more than three months to begin some fall conditioning and become acclimated with his new players before the high school basketball season begins in November.

“It’s not unfamiliar to me to be under the gun in that sense, to evaluate where they are talent-wise and being able to assess where they are … and getting some scouting information on some of the schools that are in that area and stuff like that,” Doyle said. “I have my hands full, but we’ll manage and we’ll be successful.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com

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