Doug D’Amore, who coached Catalina Foothills to state title in 2021, resigns after 10 years

Doug D’Amore after Catalina Foothills won the 2020-21 state championship, the first in school history (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Doug D’Amore, who coached Catalina Foothills for 10 seasons and led the Falcons to the 2020-21 state championship, has confirmed he has resigned to spend more time with his family.

D’Amore and his wife Claire have three kids — Emma (10 years old), Cooper (8) and Nora (6) — who he wants to spend more time with while continuing to work as an orthopedic medical-device consultant for the Stryker medical technology company.

During the four-month basketball season from November through February, D’Amore said he was often out of the house by 5:30 a.m. and did not return until around 9:30 p.m.

“My day to day job is pretty consuming, so it was time to kind of take a step back and give it a few years,” D’Amore said. “Once my son gets a little bit older, and depending on how the work-life balance is going, I will probably get back into (coaching) in some some aspects.”

D’Amore, 42, had a 215-62 record in his tenure at Catalina Foothills. He coached the Falcons to eight region titles, including this season with his team finishing 19-8 overall and 5-1 in the 5A Southern.

He achieved at least 20 wins in eight of his 10 seasons.

Doug D’Amore was 215-62 in his 10 years as Catalina Foothills’ coach (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Catalina Foothills’ first state championship team in program history in 2020-21 finished 19-1. The Falcons included Arizona walk-on Will Menaugh, a 6-foot-10 post player.

“Someone told me recently we had the most wins in the last decade in the state,” D’Amore said. “I just think that the relationships that have been built with all the kids is paramount.

“At Christmas time, 30 kids who played for me come back to our gym and play. We just hang out and talk about the good old times. They all say I’m soft and old now. It’s gonna be hard. Definitely a ton of just amazing memories — a lot that are not on the basketball court like traveling and being with kids, doing things that I’m gonna miss.”

One of his former players is Carson Peabody, son of Pima coach Brian Peabody. Carson was a member of Catalina Foothills’ 2021 state championship team. Out of that relationship, D’Amore and the elder Peabody have become close friends.

“Most importantly, I can now go to Peabody’s games, sit behind his bench and scream at him the whole time,” D’Amore said with a laugh.

Those close to the Catalina Foothills program know D’Amore is not a conventional coach.

He allows his children to be around his seat when he coaches. He interacts with his players as more of a friend than a coach, often chatting and laughing with them before and after games.

“You know, I never coached basketball. I don’t love basketball like a lot of people do,” he said. “I enjoy hanging out with teenagers. For me, it was never basketball. It was an excuse to kind of go be a teenager and hang out with them and hopefully be able to provide them an understanding of life in general.”

D’Amore gets that endearing characteristic from his late father.

The former standout at Mountain View, Scottsdale Community College and Idaho State is the son of the late “Big Doug” D’Amore who operated a group home for children in Tucson’s child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

For more than 35 years, he was a foster father to more than 350 for whom he was a guardian. The elder D’Amore, who passed in 2017, was referred to as “Coach” by numerous boys and girls athletes he coached in youth leagues.

Doug Jr. and his two brothers — Tyler and Tommy — played basketball in college. Tommy is a trauma/recon sales manager at Stryker. Tyler is the vice president of Audioeye, a digital accessibility hybrid that helps businesses with website remediation.

Their sister Sheri married former Stanford wide receiver Jon Pinckney. Their three sons Ben, Quinn and Cole played for the Falcons.

Doug D’Amore Jr. also played professionally overseas. As a junior at Idaho State in 2003-04, he made all eight of his 3-point attempts and finished with a career-high 28 points in a win over Montana State.

Claire D’Amore is a former pro beach volleyball player who started the Desert Sand Volleyball club in Tucson. She played at NAU and later coached at Arizona before focusing on individual volleyball training. The D’Amores have a sand volleyball court in their backyard where she works with aspiring beach volleyball players.

“Because of my coaching it was hard for her to do more coaching, so by me being able to step back, it allows her to do more coaching,” Doug Jr. said. “I don’t think she’ll ever coach high school but she just wants to have a bigger impact on the beach volleyball scene.”

Doug Jr. also is now able to concentrate on Emma’s 4-H Club activities, Cooper’s basketball and baseball games as a second grader and tending to Nora as she starts school.

His brother Tommy coaches Cooper’s team. Doug Jr. would rather keep a lower profile with his son’s development until possibly when Cooper reaches fifth grade in three years.

“I am kind of a volunteer, assistant coaching,” he said. “Honestly, I enjoy just sitting watching. I get asked to help out a little but I always tell them, ‘No guys, I am perfectly content sitting at centerfield just enjoying the sun and hanging out with my dogs, my wife and just us being a parent like everyone else and not have to worry about managing a game, a program, the kids and the expectations.'”

He mentioned that he will continue consulting with Catalina Foothills’ existing and former players to give them guidance with their skills and their lives.

“I’ve accomplished everything that I ever wanted to accomplish in basketball,” Doug Jr. said. “I do this because I enjoy the game and the game can teach teenagers a lot about how to be successful as they move on into college and their careers. That, to me, is what I’m going to miss the most just to have those relationships.”

He said he won’t be out of coaching forever.

He considers this time of his life a “sabbatical” from coaching.

“Everyone’s like, ‘Oh, you’re retiring?’ I said, ‘Listen, you don’t retire from hobbies. You retire from professions,'” he said. “A lot of people, especially in my industry, play golf. I don’t do that. I hunt. And I spend my time in the outdoors with my family.

“Some people on the weekend play golf. I’ve changed. I used to coach basketball. And now I am gonna do new hobbies.”


ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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