Freeport grad takes over boys basketball program

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Sunday, May 14, 2023 | 6:52 PM


For more than two decades, Rich Macura served as an assistant coach in a number of scholastic boys basketball programs.

He learned from a who’s who of mentors in the sport and passed on his knowledge to hundreds of athletes ready to make a name for themselves on the hard court.

Now, Macura is set to lead his own program.

And it is at his alma mater.

The 1992 Freeport graduate, a former assistant with the Yellowjackets, was hired last Wednesday to lead the boys basketball program as its next coach.

“I am definitely excited to be back at Freeport and get working with the kids to hopefully do some big things,” said Macura, who takes over after Sean DeVinney guided the program the past two seasons.

Macura returns to Freeport after spending two seasons as a varsity assistant to Corey Dotchin at Highlands.

He was a longtime assistant at Freeport through the 2020-21 season, and with seeing Freeport play recently with the Golden Rams and Yellowjackets in the same section, he already was familiar with a few of the players he will coach.

“It was tough last year coaching against Freeport, and it will probably be just as tough playing Highlands next year with all of the relationships and connections I made with the coaches and players there over the past two years,” Macura said.

A teacher in the Highlands School District, Macura had a chance to introduce himself to the Freeport players and parents and watch the team play Thursday at a summer league game.

He said he’s excited to get started.

Several key seniors graduated from the Freeport team that went 13-10 overall, 5-5 in Section 1-4A, and earned a trip to the WPIAL playoffs.

The Yellowjackets drew a daunting task in the first round against Laurel Highlands and fell to the Mustangs, 69-45.

“I want this team and this program to compete at a high level, and the work toward doing that begins now. There’s always an excitement for the opportunity to improve and compete. Our section again is going to be pretty challenging with Hampton, Highlands and Knoch. They all have a lot of people coming back. If we can compete with those guys, we will be happy. But before that, it’s going to take a lot of preparation.”

Games at the St. Joseph summer league, a trip to the Grove City basketball camp this summer, open-gym workouts and other opportunities, Macura said, will give him and his coaching staff — 2014 Knoch graduate Austin Miller and 2016 Freeport grad Josh Beale — a good idea of how his team progresses leading up to fall games and workouts before the start of the season in late November.

Freeport, Macura said, has two lettermen returning in guards Brady Sullivan and Gavin Glista. Both will be seniors this upcoming academic year.

Macura said the team is all together for open-gym workouts and games except for sophomore C.J. Walker, who continues his commitment to the Freeport baseball team. The Yellowjackets open the Class 3A tournament Thursday as the No. 8 seed against No. 9 South Allegheny at Plum High School.

Macura caught the coaching bug fresh out of high school at Freeport working with then eighth-grade coach Mike Beale at a couple of tournaments.

He said his high school coach, Garrie Davies, was a big influence on him as a player and also with his pursuits into coaching.

“I really got hooked from there,” he said.

“Coach Davies definitely was a mentor to me. He made a big impression on me when I started playing. He really motivated me to be the best I could be.”

Macura coached at Freeport through completion of his degree at IUP and then began a brief coaching stint with his uncle, Mike Nesbit, at DuBois Central Catholic in District 9.

“I really got to enjoy his style of coaching, and I learned a lot there,” Macura said.

Macura then made his way back to the Pittsburgh region and continued teaching and coaching.

He started coaching at the junior high level at Highlands under legendary Golden Rams coach Rich Falter.

Falter, who died last May, was the winningest coach in Highlands basketball history with 255 victories over 17 seasons punctuated by the 1995 WPIAL title.

“Rich, I feel, was really ahead of his time with that up-tempo style,” Macura said.

Macura joined Mike Beale’s staff as a varsity assistant when Beale became the head coach at Freeport in 2004 and also served in the same capacity during Davies’ return to Freeport as well as three years with Freeport graduate Wayne Greiser through the 2020-21 season.

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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