As Marlon McGaughy prepares to take over the Liberty High School basketball program, he has a former Leopards coach in mind whose style he would like to replicate.
Considering that person is Bobby Patton, who coached Liberty during a 63-game regular-season winning streak and to a state finals appearance, McGaughy has his work cut out for him.
McGaughy was named the Leopards new coach at a board of education meeting on Tuesday, taking over for Dan Gorski. McGaughy guided Sharon John F. Kennedy to regional final appearances in each of the last three years, following Patton's tenure at Sharon JFK. McGaughy said he learned a lot from Patton when he was an assistant at Sharon JFK.
''He's been a mentor for me all my life, and I kind of want to follow in his footsteps,'' McGaughy said. ''(Patton) really likes the kids, and he's a motivator. He made you want to play basketball; he made you want to be a successful young man.''
Success is the main reason McGaughy was hired. Athletic director and football coach Jeff Whittaker said Liberty had several viable candidates who applied, but McGaughy's background and winning ways at Sharon JFK placed him at the top of the list.
''They all brought something different to the the table,'' Whittaker said of the candidates. ''But this individual is a proven winner, and that was definitely a plus. He's also an individual who expresses a true passion for the kids and coaching. He exemplifies coaching as a learning process and an extension of school. That in itself was an essential credential for the candidate we wanted to hire.''
Those attributes were ones McGaughy talked about extensively. He said he picked up many of the characteristics from Patton, and the others were attained during his three-year tenure coaching the Eagles.