Davis High baseball coach Dave Leo decides time is right to retire

Saturday , July 15, 2017 - 11:54 AM

RYAN COMER, Standard-Examiner Staff

KAYSVILLE — Dave Leo enjoys going to Sill's Cafe in Layton in the morning for his cup of coffee. He likes to talk to, as he calls them, “those old guys that don’t have jobs anymore.”

Leo got in his car Thursday morning and took a step toward joining their ranks, though he’s not quite there yet. He drove to Davis High School, met with assistant principal Bradley Chapple and informed him he was no longer going to be the school’s head baseball coach.

“Brad and I had a great visit and he gave me a big hug and thanked me and that was it,” said Leo, who turned 70 in April. “I got in my car and went home, and I had a tear in my eye but I felt good.”

Leo started his run at Davis in 1978, helping the in various capacities. He became head baseball coach in 2003. He actually decided a year ago that this would be his last season, but he didn’t tell anybody.

His decision was solidified during winter workouts when rose at 5 a.m., plowed the snow off his driveway and drove to school.

His only problem was he didn’t know how he was going to eventually tell anyone.

“How do you go tell somebody you’re done doing something that you love doing more than anything in the world?” Leo asked rhetorically.

He found a way, and now he’s ready to enjoy spending more time with his family.

A CAREER COACH

Leo’s coaching career started at Carbon High School, his alma mater, in 1973. He was the head baseball coach at Carbon for three seasons before he took a teaching position at Kaysville Junior High.

In 1980, Leo started helping Ward Sawley, then the head football coach at Davis. Leo would scout opponents and help keep time during games. He kept doing that when Jim Dickson took over in 1984, and in 1994, he started assisting Dickson on the coaching staff.

Leo stayed on as an assistant ever since, working under both Ryan Bishop and Tyler Gladwell. He said he was asked by new head football coach Mitch Arquette to continue assisting. He plans to continue helping with the football team and teaching at Kaysville Junior High.

“It really makes me feel good to think those guys want me to stick around,” Leo said.

Leo also assisted on the baseball team when Kent Draayer was the head coach. Draayer coached at Davis from 1967-91.

In August 2003, Leo was asked to take over as the school’s head baseball coach. Initially, he balked because he didn’t know if he wanted to coach two sports. He decided to give it a try and didn’t regret it.

Davis won the region title five of Leo’s final eight years, but it’s using the sport to help prepare kids for life beyond high school that he singled out as something he really enjoyed.

“Like I tell (the kids), ‘What are you going to do if you apply for a job and you don’t get it? What are you going to do? You’re going to do the same thing you did when you struck out at home plate. You’re going to suck it up and go try again,’” Leo said.

FAMILY AS WELL AS BASEBALL

Leo knows a thing or two about battling tough life situations. While Davis was dominating its regular season slate of opponents with a perfect 24-0 regular season record this season, Leo’s younger brother, Kenny, was dealing with the effects of a brain tumor.

Kenny had surgery in December to remove a nonmalignant tumor from his brain stem and was hospitalized until the end of May. Dave visited him every day.

“There were more nights than none that I’d get home at midnight and get my uniform off and get a shower and eat supper and start the day over,” Dave said.

Kenny has since been released and is now at his home in Price, but Dave continues visiting him to help him rehabilitate. Dave said Kenny has had to learn how to walk again.

Nevertheless, Dave is encouraged by his brother’s rate of recovery and he said the family is “pushing toward a happy ending.”

“CONFIDENCE TO RUN THROUGH A BRICK WALL”

Dom Fuller allowed just three earned runs in 48 innings, an earned run average of 0.44, and was subsequently named the 2017 All-Area Baseball Team’s Most Valuable Player.

Throughout his time at Davis, Fuller was repeatedly brought into the game as a relief pitcher with the opposing team threatening. He wasn’t a fan of being placed into such pressure-packed situations, but he said what helped him get through those situations was knowing his coach had so much belief in him.

“That guy could give you the confidence to run through a brick wall,” Fuller said. “He gave me so much confidence throughout my four years. Even if I was down, he’d tell me no one’s better on the mound. Even though it wasn’t true, he gave you confidence to make you think it was true.”

Contact Standard-Examiner sports reporter Ryan Comer at rcomer@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @RyanComerSe and on Facebook.

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