Excessive Faculty Soccer: Chicago Academy’s Anthony Dotson lastly finds his place
As a youth intervention specialist and soccer coach in Chicago public schools, Anthony Dotson has heard some bad luck stories.
But he can also tell a lot about himself.
Dotson, who became assistant head coach of the Chicago Academy after two seasons as assistant that spring, grew up in Bronzeville and played as a senior on Troy McAllister’s first team at Phillips.
In the field, he was good enough to receive scholarship offers from Eastern Kentucky and Division II Truman State, but not good enough to take advantage of those opportunities.
“I got into arguments in high school,” said Dotson. “I finished my studies at 1.9 [grade point average]. “
The only college program willing to take a risk was Livingstone Division II in Salisbury, North Carolina. But family worries – his grandmother was struggling with cancer – and financial problems weighed heavily on him.
“I was homesick after that first semester,” said Dotson. “I canceled and came back home.”
He ended up in Division III Rockford for one season before returning to Livingstone to play for one season and get a bachelor’s degree in sports management in 2015.
Back in Chicago, Dotson found a job at a health club. But it didn’t work out and in 2017 he was homeless for two months and slept in his car.
Another health food store job came and went. But his luck finally turned when he was hired as a security officer at CPS. Five months later, he was promoted to youth intervention specialist. That means working with children to make sure small problems don’t turn into big ones.
Two people who got to know him well believe that this is the job he was born to do.
“Anthony has a big heart first of all,” said Rahman Muhammad, an assistant police chief for the Chicago Police Department. “His background, his lived experiences – that pretty much determines who he is now. … he’s like a big teddy bear. He’s tough on the outside, but inside he’s just this child who wants to be loved and wants to give him love back. “
Chicago Academy director Lydia Ryan was immediately impressed by Dotson when he applied for the youth intervention agency position.
“It was really obvious from the first few minutes of the interview that he was passionate about working with young people,” said Ryan. “And we thought that this is a guy who can inspire and motivate children, what was missing back then.”
Dotson has been open with his players about his past fights and his stories resonated with them.
Chicago Academy’s coach Anthony Dotson performs a linemen exercise during soccer practice. Kevin Tanaka / For the Sun-Times
“It definitely inspires me,” said quarterback Earnest Davis. “I’ll talk to him about things at home and we can share about things we’re growing up. He spoke to us as children, as players and as young men, that makes him one of the best coaches I’ve ever had. “
Lineman Anthony Rivas agrees.
“He told me his life story,” said Rivas. “It showed me how much I took for granted and how to start being thankful. I am grateful that he is here. “
The Chicago Academy doesn’t have a great football tradition. Dotson is the Cougars’ seventh coach since 2006, and a 26:12 win over Foreman this spring marked their first home win since 2015. That season marked the culmination of the Chicago Academy with their only conference title (at Inter-City 5) and a program record of seven wins.
But Dotson intends to end the coaching revolving door and build a successful program.
“My daily motivation,” he said, “is to be a better partner, father, son, friend, mentor and coach.”