Maestri’s impact will last much longer than tenure

Published 11:04 pm Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Things change, it’s a part of life. For 31 years, Don Maestri has been the head coach of the Troy University men’s basketball team. That changed on Tuesday when Phil Cunningham was officially introduced as the Trojans new head coach after Maestri retired on March 10.

The mark left by Maestri’s employment at the school will last much longer than the 31 seasons he spent manning the Troy bench. He brought life and attention to Troy basketball. Showtime, 200-point games and classic one-liners defined Troy basketball.

Inside the locker room, Maestri’s impact was even greater. Players knew that no matter what happened on the court, their coach had their back. He wanted his player to succeed not only on the hardwood but in life. Along with longtime assistant David Felix, Maestri molded young men into community leaders.

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Maestri’s teams were flashy yet classy.

For a want-to-be sports writer like myself, Maestri was a dream to work with. He was always honest, treated everyone the same, yet made everyone feel special. That is a quality very rare in today’s world. He is a unique, intelligent and passionate person. The man gave 31 years of his life to Troy basketball. Felix gave 32 as a coach and four more as a player. Troy gave back. Fans packed the old cracker box that was Sartain Hall. The students section was rowdy, the Sound of the South loud. Memories and records were made all while Maestri and Felix roamed the bench.

No matter what the future holds for Maestri and the Troy basketball program, no one will forget what they did for each other. Every basketball coach that is ever employed by Troy University, no matter how successful, will be compared to Don Maestri. 500 wins at a school in the southeast corner of Alabama is nothing to sneeze at, it’s one hell of an accomplishment. The players, the fans and the students will always know Maestri’s name not because it is big and bold on the court in Trojan Arena but because of the man he is and the program he built.

Maestri’s time at Troy will be forever remembered as the Golden Age of Troy basketball.