Father-daughter keep Hall of Fame in the family

In January, Bob Doty joined daughter, Jill, in the Murray State Athletics Hall of Fame becoming the first father-daughter duo in University history to do so.

Ed Marlowe
Staff writer

 

In January, Bob Doty joined daughter, Jill, in the Murray State Athletics Hall of Fame becoming the first father-daughter duo in University history to do so.

Evidently, speed can run in the family.

In 2007 Murray State volleyball and track star Jill Doty was inducted into the Murray State Athletic Hall of Fame and in January, Doty was joined there by her father, former track star Bob Doty, becoming the first father-daughter Hall of Fame duo in Murray State history.

From 1961-65, Bob Doty set and broke numerous Murray State and Ohio Valley Conference track records, cementing his name as one of the greatest sprinters ever to call Murray State his home.

Those records almost didn’t make it into the Murray State history books, as Bob originally committed to Oklahoma State prior to deciding to join the Racer family.

Bob said it was his humble, small-town upbringing that helped him change his mind and recommit.

“I called (Oklahoma State’s) coach and said, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t think I can survive out there,’” he said. “I needed something smaller.”

Murray State needed him as much as he needed to be a Racer.

Bob Doty competed in track for Murray State from 1961-65, was head coach of the Racers track team from 1997-2004 and coached his daughter throughout her high school years.

His distinguished collegiate career included an OVC-best 21.9 second 220-yard dash, a Murray State-record 9.6 second 100-yard dash and a 7.1 second 70-yard dash at the 1964 Mason-Dixon Games, all set while helping the Racers win back-to-back OVC Outdoor Track Championships in 1962-63.

His senior year, Bob was ranked fourth in the nation in the outdoor 440-yard relay clocking in at a blistering 41.2 seconds.

By the end of his career, 12 Murray State and OVC records had fallen at the feet of Bob Doty and, while most have since been tied or broken, his legacy resides not only in his efforts on the field but also off the field and in his family.

Just ask his daughter, Jill.

As a junior in high school, father Doty coached Jill to an Illinois State Championship in the 100-meter dash. Not only did she take home the gold medal, she also snagged a brand new car in the process.

“Dad and I had a bet when the season started,” she said. “He said, ‘If you ever win the 100, I’ll buy you a car.’ I remember standing on the podium and waving at my parents. It was one of the best moments of my life.”

Reaching the podium, however, wasn’t as easy as it sounds.

When Jill was a freshman in high school, Bob said he had to let an assistant coach take over Jill’s training in order to keep things from boiling over between them.

It took Jill witnessing exceedingly fast track runners at a school meet to realize she had to listen to her dad in order to meet her full potential.

“That night, she came home and said ‘If I keep my mouth shut and if you keep your mouth shut, you just tell me what to do and I won’t back talk and I’ll do what you say”, her father said. “From that night on, we got along.”

Both Doty’s laughed after hearing their comments on the relationship.

“It wasn’t really rocky,” Jill said. “We got along great.”

Under her dad’s tutelage, Jill trained in the elongated start – a starting position where the blocks are located from back to front – almost putting her in stride immediately out of the gate.

“He gave me really good advice,” Jill said. “I was really fast out of the blocks.”

Her success in high school translated into several offers for college, but Murray State offered a full ride for her to play volleyball and run track.

She said it wasn’t so much her dad’s influence sending her to wear the blue and gold, but more the people and the welcoming attitude that brought her to visit western Kentucky and eventually choosing Murray State as the next destination on her path of life.

“People were so nice and so sincere; other schools weren’t as welcoming,” she said. “People stopped what they were doing to talk to me. The people still remembered me from recruitment.”

While admittedly better at volleyball, Jill also starred in track at Murray State, and wherever she went, her parents followed.

“My parents always encouraged me,” she said. “They traveled with me. I had a meet at Arkansas State and my dad was there to rake the pit for the long jump. The team needed some points, but I hadn’t jumped in a long time. I posted a 19-foot long jump, which was pretty good, and I’m just glad my parents were there to see it.”

Both Dotys credit Murray State with providing the tools necessary to succeed and helped them find the courage to seek out and accomplish new things in life.

Jill Doty, former Murray State track and volleyball star, was coached by her father, Bob, also a Racer.

“The sports mentality taught me how to love life and the academics of Murray pushed me into my career,” Jill said, now an elementary physical education teacher in southern Illinois. “My life changed at Murray State.”

After teaching and coaching for 28 years in Hoopeston, Ill., Bob and his wife, Nancy, retired and moved to Murray. He spends most of his free time assisting the University in numerous functions.

For Bob, choosing Murray as a place to retire and eventually return to coaching just made sense.

“Murray, it just grows on you,” he said. “You’ve got a university here, you’ve got good weather, good food and you’ve got whatever you need right here.”

From 1994-97, Bob volunteered as both a men’s and women’s track coach at Murray State before working for seven years as the head cross country and track and field coach, officially retiring from all positions in 2004.

With Jill’s induction into the Murray State University Hall of Fame in 2007 and Bob’s following in 2012, the Dotys became the first father-daughter combination in the Hall.

But for them, it’s was just another victory for Team Doty.