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Contact: William Sodoma
Date: May 24, 2011
Strahorn, head coach at Plymouth State University this past season and an assistant coach for four years at Columbia University, will start at Colby June 1. Strahorn will be Colby’s first new head men’s basketball coach since 1970, when Whitmore arrived. Strahorn is the seventh head coach in Colby men’s basketball history dating back to the 1937-38 season.
“I’m truly excited that Damien has accepted our offer to be the next head coach of men’s basketball at Colby,” said Harold Alfond Director of Athletics Marcella Zalot. “No one can replace Dick Whitmore, because, frankly, he is irreplaceable. But Damien has the right mix of terrific basketball knowledge and high-level recruiting experience that we need, combined with his knowledge of the traditions and history of the men’s basketball program at Colby.”
Whitmore amassed a career record of 637-341 and stepped down after the 2010-11 season ranked seventh all-time in career wins in NCAA Division III men’s basketball history. He is in the top 50 among coaches in career wins in all NCAA divisions.
Strahorn said two things about Whitmore stand out. “First, you look at the 600-plus wins, the championships, and the fact that he’s one of the winningest coaches of all time,” said the 2002 Colby graduate who majored in economics and minored in administrative science. “The second part is the amazing impact that he’s had on so many of his players’ lives and the resulting connection he has with so many former players. I’m very honored and humbled to be taking over for him.”
Despite taking over a Plymouth State team with just one returning starter and a squad predicted to finish last in the Little East Conference, Strahorn helped the Panthers to a sixth-place finish and an 11-14 record last year. He arrives for Colby’s 2011-12 season after the Mules lost star players Adam Choice, Mike Russell, and Christian Van Loenen to graduation over the past two years.
Strahorn was in the Ivy League at Columbia for four years under then-head coach Joe Jones, who is now associate head coach at Boston College. Strahorn was named interim head coach for the spring after Jones left for Boston College. He was in charge of spring workouts and did some home visits to incoming players.
Strahorn started out at Columbia as a third assistant and worked up to Jones’s top assistant for his final two years with the Lions. Strahorn helped Jones lead Columbia to its most Ivy League wins in a three-year span since 1994, and he helped tie the university’s record for most wins in one season in the previous 30 years with a 16-12 record in 2006-07. Columbia had its best four-year record since 1980 during Strahorn’s time there.
Strahorn coached four years with Whitmore, first as a volunteer and then as a paid assistant coach.
“What a great opportunity it was to be able to learn from Coach Whitmore so early in my career,” said Strahorn, who is working on his master’s degree from Plymouth State and hopes to finish his degree work online. “I’m really grateful to him and for entrusting me with opportunity to do a lot of things as an assistant. That time at Colby really prepared me well for Columbia.”
Strahorn, a native of Menlo Park, Calif., was a two-year player at Colby after transferring from Foothill College. During his senior year, Strahorn earned All-NESCAC first team honors and was named to the All-New England second team. A captain his senior year, Strahorn averaged 22.9 points per game.
Besides his new job coaching the Mules, Strahorn also will have the opportunity to keep his fellow Colby basketball alumni active and engaged in the program.
“As a graduate of the program he has experienced the energy, the enthusiasm, and the sense of family within the men’s basketball program that transcends generations of players,” Zalot said. “He is the perfect person to continue building this family while simultaneously putting his own stamp on the program. I watched Damien play as a student and lead his team as a captain. He now has the opportunity to lead the entire program as our new head coach. It is a great challenge and opportunity, and Damien will be terrific.”