Donald Rollman, head coach of the Peninsula Pirates men’s team, waves a cut net in triumph after Peninsula clinched the NWAC North Region championship in February. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Donald Rollman, head coach of the Peninsula Pirates men’s team, waves a cut net in triumph after Peninsula clinched the NWAC North Region championship in February. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Peninsula head coach Donald Rollman takes flight for Seattle Pacific

PORT ANGELES — Donald Rollman may not have been seeking a new position in basketball, but he’s found one — as the head assistant coach for the tradition-rich Seattle Pacific men’s basketball program.

Rollman’s addition is set to be announced by the school Friday.

As Peninsula College’s head men’s basketball coach since the 2018-19 season, Rollman compiled a sterling 81-48 record (48-29 in North Region play), including a 25-4 record and North Region championship in 2022-23.

He guided his Pirates teams to the NWAC Tournament in every season it was held upon ascending to the position after two years as a Peninsula assistant under former head coach Mitch Freeman and a season as interim head coach in 2018-19.

“Donald was a great role model for our student athletes and his work ethic was hard to match as a recruiter and in taking care of his players,” said Rick Ross, Peninsula College Associate Dean for Athletics and Student Life.

“At our level, the coach is also a father figure and I think he represented the college really well in that role.

“He was a great part of our team of coaches and athletic staff. We have a lot of fun and he’s got a great sense of humor.”

Talent on new team

Rollman will join the staff of Keffrey Fazio, a former Falcons assistant who was named interim head coach in May when former Seattle Pacific coach Grant Leep moved from the NCAA Division II school across town to NCAA Division I Seattle University.

The two men have known each other dating back to Fazio’s successful tenure as West Seattle High School head coach.

“I’ll be the head assistant coach there,” Rollman said. “The team was phenomenal offensively last season but need to improve on the defensive end, which has been our focus at Peninsula College. There’s a great grasp on the offensive end and we will work to improve on both ends of the floor.”

Seattle Pacific went 17-11 last season and returns a great deal of talent, including Rollman and Peninsula College’s former NWAC foes Maui Sze (Bellevue) and D.J. Clark (Skagit Valley), along with North Kitsap standout Jonas La Tour. La Tour, part of a number of terrific prep contests with Port Angeles, was hurt for much of his freshman year and averaged 5.3 points in nine games.

Peninsula standout Roosevelt Williams Jr. also has signed to play for the Falcons, so a talent-rich backcourt should be a strength for Seattle Pacific.

Willing to wager

Having been in the position before himself, Rollman said he had no qualms in joining the staff of an interim head coach.

“I’ve bet on myself before and it’s worked out,” Rollman said. “I’m not afraid to bet on myself and Keffrey and embrace the belief in getting it done. I always say ‘Pressure is a privilege.”

Rollman looked back fondly at his time at Peninsula.

“I’m so grateful for our guys and the way they bought in over the years,” Rollman said.

“The toughness, the willingness to defend at a high level and holding to a standard isn’t easy, getting after it isn’t easy, and I never let up. The guys who bought into that had a lot of success here and moving on. We separated ourselves from a lot of people and a lot of teams because of our ability to play at a consistently high level.”

Rollman prided himself on seeing his players graduate and find new four-year schools on a routine basis.

“Our guys graduating and moving on,” Rollman said. “We moved six guys on this year to keep playing and have another guy working an apprenticeship and setting himself up for a great career. All seven of our sophomores graduated this year, seven sophomores graduated last year. So helping guys set themselves up to be successful, whether it’s in basketball or work or family life, is really rewarding.”

Ross was impressed by Rollman’s teams on and off the court.

“Coming in for his first gig as a head coach to make the playoffs, then have four straight winning seasons and this past season — arguably the best team in the NWAC until injuries hurt them late,” Ross said. “I enjoyed the things he did off the floor. His teams were the most involved of any of our teams in volunteering in the community. They were regularly involved in Boys & Girls Club events, CrabFest and more.

“On the court, they were disciplined, respectful to officials and other players and fans. They worked hard, displayed really strong fundamentals and they were fun to be around — both players and coaches. He recruited high-quality people.

“He also had the most aggressive athletic study program. He was really intent on getting them all their degrees and moving them on to the next level. That will be a great legacy for our future coaches to follow. That’s one of the most important things we do is getting them degrees and moving them on.”

Rollman also was the lead fundraiser for the athletic department and made numerous friends on the North Olympic Peninsula.

“This is the hardest part about leaving,” Rollman said. “The way this community bought into who we are and what we do as a program was outstanding. This community knows basketball, they want to watch good basketball, and they’ll let you know it.

“It was a lot of fun to come to work every day, surrounded by good people like Rick (Ross), (college president Dr. Suzy) Ames and (former president) Dr. Luke Robins and those in the community.”

Rollman said the team also received great sponsor support locally from “7 Cedars and their CEO Jerry Allen, Dan Wilder, First Federal and all of their support.”

Ross said the college is accepting applications for the position now and expects to interview candidates beginning July 11 with the goal of hiring a new coach by July 17.

________

Sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman can be contacted at mcarman@peninsuladailynews.com.

After a national search, Peninsula College removed the interim tag and promoted Donald Rollman to be the sixth head men’s basketball coach in school history. (Peninsula College Athletics)

After a national search, Peninsula College removed the interim tag and promoted Donald Rollman to be the sixth head men’s basketball coach in school history. (Peninsula College Athletics)

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