May 30, 2024

Sean Campbell’s Dedication as Leesburg Head Basketball Coach is a Slam Dunk

3 min read| Published On: May 30th, 2024|

By Kyle Coppola

Sean Campbell’s Dedication as Leesburg Head Basketball Coach is a Slam Dunk

3 min read| Published On: May 30th, 2024|

Double Duty

Leesburg High School’s (LHS) coaching staff was one of the busiest in Lake County this past season.

Sean Campbell, head basketball coach and his assistants worked tirelessly to lead the school’s boys’ teams to success. 

Their challenge became more difficult when the girls head coach stepped down, creating an unexpected gap in leadership.

In response, Coach Campbell, who coached two state-champion Leesburg boys’ teams, made the challenging decision to coach both the boys and the girls. But he did so knowing he would have plenty of support from Assistant Coaches D’Mani Nettles, Jason Horton, Cam Smith, Derrick Campbell and Yolander Scarberry.

“I knew when I decided to take both on that it was going to be difficult,” Coach Campbell says. “Practice was the easy part; the hard part was the logistics.” 

It was also the first time he coached girls’ basketball. 

“My coaching style did not change much but the way I approached certain things had to change,” Coach Campbell said. “I also got to coach my daughter, Macey Campbell, and that was a thrill in its own right. But the biggest thrill was seeing the girls’ eyes light up with excitement when we started winning. The girls’ team went 1-24 during the 2022-’23 season. Most of these girls didn’t know what it was like to be a winning team. When they started winning games, that was one of the most rewarding feelings of my life.” 

The Leesburg girls finished 24-2 in one of the biggest turnarounds in Lake County sports history. 

“I am a two-time state champion and this ranks as one of the most challenging things I have ever done,” Coach Campbell says. “I have won a lot on a variety of platforms. I coached everyone else’s kid, but I never coached my own. It was the most amazing thing to be a part of my daughter’s senior night as her coach and to witness her growth and see her building memories are things that will last a lifetime. I loved every minute of it.” 

Love is the right word. Coach Campbell’s eyes light up every time he talks about Macey. But he also glows when he talks about how much the Leesburg program represents. 

“When I joined Leesburg in 2011, Bill Miller was the principal and he touted how good the basketball program and athletics were,” Coach Campbell says. “He mentioned that what we truly needed to focus on was ‘winning in life.’  We needed the academic (component) to change in a positive direction and that has been successful with the fresh ideas Principal Michael Randolph has brought to Leesburg, including the Cambridge AICE (Advanced International Certificate of Education) programs. It’s resulted in one of the highest ever graduation rates in Leesburg High School history.”

In 2023, Leesburg High experienced an 87% graduation rate. It’s a source of pride for D’Mani, an LHS alum.

“Academically, since I attended Leesburg High, the opportunities for all kids are at an all-time high but especially for young African American kids . . . the opportunities for them at Leesburg High are outstanding,” D’Mani says. “I have witnessed this change firsthand and I can tell you that the opportunities for our Black youth have never been better. That is due to the teachers, faculty and overall leadership provided on and off the court.”

D’Mani, who, at 22, is one of the county’s youngest coaches, serves as an inspiration. Apart from coaching both varsity teams and heading the JV program, he is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology, owns a clothing line and aspires to serve in local government. His dedication mirrors that of the entire coaching staff, who view Coach Campbell as a father figure and value his vital insights into the game. 

“Coach Campbell is like everyone’s father,” D’Mani says. “That’s just how he treats everyone.” 

Reflecting on the season’s success, Coach Campbell says his players deserve the praise. 

“It was more of the kids than it was us. We just put the structure in place to allow them to play their game,” Coach Campbell says. “But I give all the credit to all the kids this year that played incredibly hard because they earned their success.” 

And that success was considerable. The Lady Yellow Jackets and the boys’ team both reached the FHSAA Regional Finals. But now, all eyes are on the future. 

The hard work that fueled the LHS basketball coaching staff in 2023-’24 laid a foundation for the potential of an even bigger run next season. 

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About the Author: Kyle Coppola

Kyle Coppola was born in Newton, Massachusetts and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communications from Curry College in 2016. After traveling to Florida on a family vacation, he decided he could not get enough of the warm weather and made the move from snowy Massachusetts to central Florida 8 years ago.

For the last decade Kyle has gained valuable experience in social media content creation, marketing and sales, writing, video production, sports announcing and even broadcasting for local radio stations, such as FM 102.9 in The Villages and FM 91.5 in Massachusetts. Every year he volunteers at The Villages Charter High School as a play-by-play sports announcer for the football games as well as a public address announcer for the basketball games, including the annual Battle at The Villages Tournament.

Outside the office Kyle is a husband and father to two beautiful girls along with their cat. In his spare time he likes to spend time with his family, travel, play golf and swim. He is also a huge sports junkie and even bigger motorsports fan and loves to attend racing events when he can.

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