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updated: 5/30/2012 10:18 AM

Doll departs Elk Grove for international opportunity

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  • Brian Doll turned Elk Grove into one of the premier football programs in his three years as head coach. Now Doll will turn his attention to trying to help football grow and prosper in a new position in London.

      Brian Doll turned Elk Grove into one of the premier football programs in his three years as head coach. Now Doll will turn his attention to trying to help football grow and prosper in a new position in London.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer


Brian Doll initially did not take the idea of a London calling too seriously.

Doll had turned Elk Grove football into one of the premier programs in the Mid-Suburban League. But about a month ago, some friends started to inquire about Doll's interest in making football one of the premier sports in Europe.

The conversations eventually became more serious and gained more traction. On Tuesday, Doll officially resigned as Elk Grove's head coach to pursue a global sports marketing career with The Specialized Marketing Group, Inc. (TSMGI), a Deerfield-based company which is part of Aon Corporation's sports marketing activities.

And if Doll is as successful at his next challenge as he was promoting and developing Elk Grove football, then the sport should continue to grow and prosper on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Elk Grove football certainly took off in success and interest since Doll arrived from New Trier. The support for what he accomplished in short period of time -- three playoff trips in three seasons, a 24-9 record and last season's Mid-Suburban East title and run to the Class 7A quarterfinals -- was evident again after the news spread through the school Tuesday.

"Today was probably the toughest day I've had in a very long time for a lot of reasons," Doll said. "Dr. (principal Nancy) Holman, for all she's done, her confidence bringing me in and the support of the program.

"I thank her so much for all she's done and Rick (assistant principal for student activities Mirro) and Jon (boys athletic director Rowley) and everybody who wanted the program turned around and did all the things need to be supportive. They were amazing."

Doll said his coaches and players were as well during the meeting with them Tuesday. Dejan Basara, last fall's all-area honorary captain, once again showed his leadership at a crucial time.

"It was a brutal moment to look the kids in the eye and tell them I won't be coaching them next year," Doll said. "The hardest part is the emotional attachment to the program. I thanked them for all they've done and I know they're going to move forward.

"The thing that really helped today is that I'm not going to coach (elsewhere). There were some very mature conversations. Basara was great explaining to the younger guys this is an opportunity of a lifetime."

One where Doll's challenge is to continue the momentum he said has been increasing football's foothold in England. He will likely run and put together coaching and skill development clinics and help the development of European athletes for American football. He said there is also a chance he'll be doing some work for the famed Manchester United soccer club.

Helping to ease the move to London, which will take place in September, is Doll's Australian wife Annie lived there and has a lot of friends still there. Doll said he also has friends in London a well.

"This was obviously something that was appealing to her," Doll said. "It's an opportunity for me to branch out and meet a lot of people not only in the business world but the sports world."

Doll said he told Holman what was happening Friday night and made his final decision Monday morning. That will make for a quick transition for Doll's replacement with the season less than three months away.

Rowley said a plan is in place and he hopes to have a new coach named by next week going into the start of summer football camp.

"We're in a real good shape from top to bottom and we'll be fine," Rowley said. "The kids were obviously surprised by the announcement and so were people at school, but it's an opportunity Brian couldn't really pass up.

"He really built a lot of solid relationships with kids and we felt really good about what he was doing and we were proud of what he was doing. The last three years were just awesome and so much fun to be a part of. He did great things for the school and community."

And Doll expects all of it to continue as he watches from afar.

"I feel good about where the program is at," Doll said. "It's a solid staff and the kids bought into the program. Obviously we had goals of going farther than we did but we accomplished a lot of things we set out to do."

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