Farmington, Maine – UMaine-Farmington's director of athletics, Julie Davis, announces the hiring of Sam Leal as the men's basketball head coach. "After a competitive national search, we are thrilled to welcome home one of our own in Sam Leal '14 to lead the Beavers. Sam has thrown himself at opportunities working with some of the best in collegiate basketball so he could grow and learn while contributing to advancing their programs. He is eager to bring all of that experience to UMF to keep the current momentum going, with a nod to the future and respect for our rich tradition and history. We are thrilled to have him on board and are confident he will hit the ground running and be a great coach and colleague leading the program forward," said Davis.
"I am extremely excited about this opportunity. I want to thank Julie Davis and the UMF community for their confidence in me to lead this program. Coach Meader has made a positive impact on so many players' lives, including my own. I feel so fortunate to have played for him and I look forward to carrying on the program's great success," said Leal.
Leal joins the UMF coaching ranks ready to build on the strong foundation and tradition of Beaver Basketball. He was a full-time assistant and lead recruiter this past year for Bates College. He was involved in every aspect of the program and beyond recruiting and strategic X's and O's, he played a key role in player development, has been fully responsible for operationalizing the team's social media presence, was integral in leading successful fund-raising events and assisted with scheduling and other logistics for the program.
"Sam did a tremendous job for us at Bates. His passion for the game and commitment to the development of our student-athletes, not just as basketball players but as young men, was an integral part of our success this year. Sam has great energy and positively influences all people he works with. While he will be greatly missed, I couldn't be happier for him to start his own program. He'll be a great addition to the UMF athletics department," said Jon Furbush, head men's basketball coach at Bates.
Prior to Bates, Leal served as a graduate assistant men's basketball coach at Springfield College while earning his master's degree in sport and exercise psychology. Basketball fans know Springfield is "the birthplace of basketball." In Leal's first year, Springfield went 12-2 in conference play, setting a NEWMAC record before advancing to the NCAA DIII National Semifinals. Coach Leal took the lead in developing the mindset for a winning culture with the team and staff, which served the team well as they advanced deeper in tournament play. He played a significant role in recruiting major contributors to the team's continued success this year. In 2019, he was tabbed to help organize the NABC Division III All-Star Game in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
"I am elated for Coach Leal, and congratulate UMF for hiring him. Sam has a great pedigree, is excellent working with young people, and is adept at recruiting talented players and good people. He is, most of all, a student of the game, and an outstanding teacher. Sam will be a great young head coach and an asset to the coaching profession," said storied coach Charlie Brock of Springfield College.
Leal graduated from UMaine-Farmington in 2014 with a teaching degree, specializing in mathematics. He played four years for the Beavers, contributing on and off the court. A stellar student, he earned NAC scholar-athlete recognition multiple times, made the dean's list and graduated cum laude. He was recognized by his peers with the school's Beaver Pride Award, and also made the National Association of Basketball Coaches Honors Court. Upon graduation, Leal found a spot on the University of Southern Maine's coaching staff and then went on to teach math for two years at Greely High School while exploring graduate school opportunities.
"I am thrilled Sam Leal has accepted the position as the next men's basketball coach at UMF. As a former player, he is one of us. He has the knowledge, leadership ability, and work ethic to be an outstanding coach,' said retiring coach Dick Meader. Meader had previously announced his retirement after the season. https://athletics.umf.maine.edu/sports/mbkb/2019-20/releases/20200305l5byvu