By: Ally Doty
Leah Drury, the women’s head basketball coach for Pensacola State College, announced her resignation today, Feb. 26, at the Hartsell Arena, which has been her home for the last two years of her coaching career.
The event started out lightly, when Bill Hamilton stepped up to the podium and knocked over the back-drop banner on himself, and PSC President Dr. Ed Meadows, getting a chuckle out of the crowd that consisted of the men’s and women’s basketball teams, men’s basketball head coach Pete Pena, his wife and softball coach Brenda Pena and other PSC staff members.
Meadows made his way to the podium to speak a couple of opening words before he let Hamilton share the news.
“I want to say a few things about our coaching staff and our players,” he began. “I think that all of you players that are sitting in here have reflected the character of our coaches. The reason we are able to call you all ‘student athletes’ is because we have coaches who care truly about our players and their success after athletics is over.”
The mood soon turned sour when Hamilton approached the podium, fixing his tie nervously and staring at the back wall as though he was searching for the right words to say.
“The reason that we have called this press conference today,” Hamilton said, “though it is not a happy press conference, is that I regret to inform you, that Monday morning, I accepted Coach Leah Drury’s resignation. There was a lot of tears shed, but she has convinced me that the move she is making is right for her.”
The whole room seemed to turn as all eyes shifted to Drury’s position in the back of the room.
“She completely took me by surprise when she came to me with this news. We will look and we will find somebody equivalent to her,” Hamilton continued. “We will pick up and move on hopefully as good as the hands we have been in the last two years. But this day is not about that search, it is about Coach Drury.”
Applause echoed through the Don Perry Room as Drury walked toward the podium, eyes down at the floor.
“First off, I just have to uhmm..” she started, but she could not make it through the first sentence. Tears streamed down her rosy cheeks while she struggled to find the words to say.
“Thank you Coach Hamilton,” she said, “for believing in me. From the first day I got here, all the way up till now. He has given me an opportunity that I could not be more thankful for or more blessed to have.”
Drury continued to speak, thanking her players and her assistant coaches who have helped make PSC her home for the last two years and to all of the staff for supporting her through her tough moments.
“I have come to a point where I don’t want to be a coach,” she said. “I don’t want the life. It is very time consuming and in order to be great as a coach you have to put everything you have into it. All of your time and all of your energy, everything you have. I have decided that’s not the direction I want my life to go in.”
Drury does not know what the next step in her career or her life is, but she “could not be more happy with the last two years of her life.”
Dr. Meadows made it clear at the end of the conference that “Drury will always have a job here. We will make room in our staff for this young woman if she chooses to stay and continue to make PSC her home.”
Hamilton and his athletic staff “wish her luck” and will begin the search for a new Head Coach for the women’s basketball program.