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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


“From player to coach, rugby’s Sitton inspires”

Lisa Beth Earle/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

Rugby Coach Dave Sitton
Lisa Beth Earle
Lisa Beth Earle/ Arizona Daily Wildcat Rugby Coach Dave Sitton

Arizona club rugby coach Dave Sitton has been a part of the rugby team for 38 years as both a coach and player. One of the longest coaches in Arizona school history had the opportunity to coach some of the “”finest young men you will ever know.”” 

Sitton originally came to Arizona to play baseball for coach Jerry Kindall, but when injuries left him unable to play, he turned to rugby.

“”Baseball was too dangerous for me,”” Sitton said. “”Rugby seemed to be a lot safer. There are not too many people who are going to tell you that.””

In his junior year, Sitton traveled to England and Wales to play rugby and was introduced to rugby coach Jon Evans, who became Sitton’s mentor. Sitton said Evans took him under his wing and lit a fire under him that never went away.

Upon returning to Arizona for his senior season, Sitton got involved with coaching, and after graduating became head coach at the age of 22.

His involvement in the community didn’t stop there. Sitton is the global marketing director for the Arizona Cancer Center. He decided to work for them after being treated for, and cured of, lymphoma.

Aside from coaching and playing, Sitton has also long been involved with broadcasting Arizona sports and rugby around the world. His interest in play-by-play started as a child growing up in Los Angles and hearing sportscaster Vince Scully.

“”I had a deep respect for baseball,”” Sitton said. “”Growing up in Los Angeles, I was familiar with the great Vince Scully. Coach Kindall and I joked that I should get into broadcasting, and that was something I had in the back of my mind. Growing up in Hollywood, (broadcasting) came somewhat naturally.””

In 1981, Sitton began his broadcasting career at Arizona doing baseball play-by-play for 10 years. In that time, he did about 700 broadcasts, including two College World Series.

“”I got (a) uniform,”” Sitton said. “”I would tape the pregame show, catch batting practice, put the pregame show on the air, shower and then go (call) the game. I was in heaven.””

Of all sports, Sitton said he enjoys calling baseball the most.

After 10 years of calling baseball, Sitton took a position with the Fox affiliate in Tucson and for the past 21 years has done Arizona play-by-play television for sports including men’s basketball and football. 

“”I’ve had a lot of fun broadcasting and great employers the entire time,”” Sitton said. “”I love the people. I’ve been very fortunate to be involved with this program and the way I’ve been afforded the time to do it.””

In his time at Arizona, Sitton had the opportunity to cover the 1997 National Champion basketball team, including its final two games that it lost prior to taking the NCAA title.

“”(They) played horrible,”” Sitton said. “”The next thing you know they’re in the NCAA Tournament. I was in Korea when (they) beat Providence. I learned enough Korean to say ‘I need the TV and remote.’ I’ll never forget it. It was wild.””

Sitton’s first love, however, will always be coaching. Sitton said he finds his inspiration from a rather unusual coach. “”I listen to Yoda,”” Sitton said. “”Yoda was a damn good coach. He coached Jedi, and I coach rugby players.

“”If you do something well, I don’t like to say nice try,”” Sitton added. “”Yoda was right. There is no try. You either do, or you don’t. It’s that simple.””

The relationships Sitton has built while coaching cannot be replaced.

“”(I) have a lot of friends who don’t understand why (I) put so much time into rugby,”” Sitton said. “”I get teary-eyed about it, because I wouldn’t trade the relationships I’ve got with friends around the world for anything. The heart and nature of rugby produces a respect for the players amongst themselves. It’s the wildest fraternity on the planet. I’ve always loved it.””

Junior prop Rudy Padilla described his coach as respectful and amiable.

“”He’s always been a great help to me,”” Padilla said. “”(But) he’d never talk like (Yoda), and he would damn sure never be nice, when being mean will help you out.””

Senior flanker Nathaniel Schneps described his coach as tough and intense.

“”He’s a tough teacher, but if you have any problems, he will not push you too hard,”” Schneps said.

Coaching for more than 30 years has left Sitton with many memories, but one stands out.

“”One of my favorite moments in the history of the program was last year for the 40th anniversary,”” Sitton said. “”(Past players) who had never met each other before (came down for a weekend), and by the time the weekend was over they were best friends. The camaraderie and respect for the program was such that it was great.””

Sitton wants to teach his players to be men, which is one of the things he enjoys most about coaching.

“”My greatest joy is when I get letters back (from past players),”” Sitton said. “”I got one very poignant letter from a guy I coached for (three years in the 1980s). He told me, ‘I can’t tell you how many things I learned from you I use in my life every day.’ It fills me with joy.””

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