Matt Uthoff is switching sidelines.
Luckily for West Delaware fans, he’s still going to be coaching Hawks basketball.
The seven-year West Delaware boys basketball coach announced earlier this week that he has taken over as the school’s girls basketball coach. Uthoff has seen some glorious times with the Hawks, a key factor in the school’s 2000 runner-up team as a player, then guiding West Delaware to two state tournament appearances and two WaMaC Conference titles as a coach.
His reason for taking over the girls team is what’s waiting in the wings. Uthoff is the proud father of two daughters that he called “basketball junkies.” While they’re in fourth and sixth grade right now, in a few years, he hopes to be along for the ride when they commence their prep basketball journeys in Manchester.
“I’ve had some conversations with my wife the past couple of years,” said Uthoff, who played collegiately at Loras and also coached at Maquoketa prior to taking over at his alma mater. “My dad was a head coach for 25 years, he coached at a school I didn’t play at and he wasn’t able to see all of my games. … So I knew at some point in time, I would make the switch. When the job came open, I felt it was time.”
Uthoff went 6-16 his first season with the Hawks in 2013-14 and the program took significant strides from there. The next year they were 11-11, 16-7 the year following and peaked at 25-2 in 2016-17. West Delaware placed fourth in the Iowa Class 3A state tournament that season, with their only two losses coming at Wells Fargo Arena. He was 98-65 overall as boys head coach, a .601 win percentage, leading the Hawks back to state in 2019.
West Delaware finished 6-16 this past season but pushed perennial power Dubuque Wahlert to overtime before dropping a 68-65 decision in the first round of the postseason. On the bright side, all seven players who saw the floor in that game will return next season. The boys team will graduate only one senior.
West Delaware went 2-20 on the girls’ side this past season. The squad featured three seniors, four juniors, four sophomores and four freshman. Uthoff said there is a lot of potential talent at the middle-school level.
It’s an emotional decision, Uthoff said.
“I’ll miss a ton (about the boys program),” he said. “West Delaware was my dream job. I graduated here. It was my goal to be the West Delaware boys coach. I’ve seen those kids grow into awesome young men. That’s the hardest part for me.”
Uthoff will replace Rod Conrad, taking over a girls Hawks team that struggled this past season. When it comes to coaching the girls, he said he plans on bringing the same style he used for the boys program.
“If you were to characterize how our teams have played, I think most kids would agree how hard our kids play. How competitive. How well they defend,” Uthoff said. “Those are characteristics that we’ll still implement with the girls.”