Leechburg boys basketball coach Damian Davies resigns

Friday, June 2, 2023 | 3:29 PM

Damian Davies said it was time to step away as head coach of the Leechburg boys basketball team but said he leaves with many positive moments from the four seasons of his second stint with the program.

Davies said he made the decision a couple of weeks ago, ending the run that began in June 2019 when he was hired after the school district decided to part ways with former coach Corey Smith.

“I’ve been coaching since I was 19 years old, 31 years of it, with time at Freeport and Burrell and the last 20 or so years at Leechburg coaching boys and girls,” Davies said.

“I’ve loved coaching and the interaction with the players and other coaches. I love teaching at Leechburg. The staff and administration have been very supportive.”

Davies, when talking about his decision to step away, noted the continued challenges small public-school basketball programs face from preparation in the summer and fall to the actual season of competition.

But, he said, he enjoyed the opportunity to help the program face those challenges each year.

“We worked hard, the players and coaches, during open gyms over the summer and other things to be as ready as possible for each season,” Davies said.

Davies’ first stint with the boys basketball program went for 14 seasons, and he helped guide the Blue Devils to the WPIAL Class A championship and PIAA playoffs in the 2006-07 season.

His contract was not renewed by the school board after the 2015-16 season amidst hazing allegations that were brought against the boys basketball program. No evidence was found that proved Davies guilty of any wrongdoing.

He reapplied for the position and received support from players, students, parents and community members, but the board chose to go in a different direction.

Davies, however, was approved as an assistant with the girls basketball program. In three years on the girls side, he helped the varsity team win 38 games with an 18-4 record in the 2017-18 season.

Davies went 48-29 the last four seasons with the Leechburg boys varsity. The team made three WPIAL playoff appearances.

During the covid-affected 2020-21 season, the Blue Devils went 8-5 overall and made it to the semifinals of the WPIAL Class A open tournament.

Leechburg erupted for 18 wins and a runner-up section finish to Imani Christian in 2021-22. The team advanced to the WPIAL quarterfinals.

“I will miss that journey together to be the best we can be. It’s been the greatest part of my life,” Davies said.

“The coaches and a lot of my former players are some of my closest friends. When the kids come through the high school, I get them in the classroom, too. It creates an additional bond. It is so good to have the chance to help create great things.”

Leechburg athletic director Andre Carter confirmed Friday that the hiring process for the next boys head coach continues. The hope, he said, is to have a candidate presented to the school board within the month.

The board meets June 14 and 28, and a decision could be finalized at either of those meetings.

Carter, the girls basketball head coach, said he appreciated the connection he made with Davies as colleagues the past couple of years.

“We shared a number of similar beliefs and philosophies in building a program, including focusing on strengthening the elementary programs,” Carter said.

“He’s always been very open and supportive. We worked well with coordinating gym time and things like that. It was a good relationship.”

Davies said he isn’t ruling out a return to coaching at some point.

“Coaching is a great medium for teaching, and I love teaching at Leechburg,” he said.

As far as Leechburg basketball specifically and Blue Devils athletics in general, he hopes to be someone who can be called upon as an advocate.

“Being in the district and continuing on as a teacher, I will always be here to lend support for Leechburg basketball,” Davies said.

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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