Wildcats Insider
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Tuesday, Mar. 04, 2014

Wildcats Insider

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- DAVIDSON ATHLETICS
Davidson football hired Charlotte Country Day alumnus Derham Cato to coach its offensive line and tight ends.
  • Upcoming events

    Wednesday, March 5

    Baseball at North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 3 p.m.

    Friday, March 7

    Men’s Tennis at Georgia Southern, Statesboro, Ga., 2:30 p.m.

    Baseball vs. UMass, Davidson, 6 p.m.

    Women’s Basketball vs. SoCon Tournament, Asheville, TBD

    Men’s Basketball vs. SoCon Tournament, Asheville, TBD.

    Saturday, March 8

    Women’s Basketball vs. SoCon Tournament, Asheville, TBD.

    Women’s Tennis at Winthrop, Rock Hill, S.C., 10 a.m.

    Women’s Lacrosse at Kennesaw State, Kennesaw, Ga., 1 p.m.

    Baseball vs. NC A&T and UMass, Davidson, 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

    Wrestling vs. SoCon Tournament, Buies Creek, All Day.

    Men’s Basketball vs. SoCon Quarterfinals, Asheville, TBD.

    Sunday, March 9

    Women’s Basketball vs. SoCon Tournament, Asheville, TBD.

    Baseball vs. UMass, Davidson 12 p.m.

    Women’s Tennis at Wofford, Spartanburg, S.C., 1 p.m.

    Men’s Tennis at Elon, Elon, 1 p.m.

    Baseball vs. NC A&M, Davidson, 3 p.m.

    Men’s Basketball vs. SoCon Semifinals, Asheville, TBD.

    Monday, March 10

    Women’s Basketball vs. SoCon Tournament, Asheville, TBD.

    Men’s Basketball vs. SoCon finals, Asheville, 9 p.m.

    Source: www.Davidsonwildcats.com.

Generally speaking, many assistant football coaches at the collegiate level get their jobs through connections with a head coach.

But in Derham Cato’s case, that’s not how things shook out.

When he heard that the Wildcats were looking for an offensive line and tight ends coach for the 2014 season, the former All-State linebacker at Charlotte Country Day – who spent the last three seasons as a graduate assistant at Vanderbilt University – reached out to coach Paul Nichols to express his interest in joining the program.

“It was kind of a random occurrence,” said Cato, who grew up in Charlotte. “My former high school coach (Mike Fresina), who also happens to be a Davidson alum, told me about the position, and I reached out to coach Nichols myself.”

An interview was set up for Jan. 3 – which made for a busy week for Cato, who was with the Commodores in Birmingham, Ala., preparing for the BBVA Compass Bowl.

“I hopped on a plane to Charlotte that Thursday night after practice, did the interview Friday morning, and was back in Birmingham later that afternoon helping the team prepare for its bowl game,” said Cato.

Vanderbilt went on to win its bowl game over Houston, 41-24, and four days later, Cato learned that the Davidson job was his.

“It’s ideal being a young coach and having an opportunity to come in and be responsible for over half the guys on the field and to have input on the game-planning,” said Cato, who graduated from Dartmouth in 2005 after lettering all four years.

“I’d be hard pressed to find a better situation,” he continued. “It’s hard for young guys to get this kind of opportunity; I’ve got to pinch myself almost every day.”

On top of O-line and TE coaching duties, Cato will also contribute heavily in recruiting, where he’ll help to schedule official visits of potential Wildcats recruits.

“I feel like recruiting is a strong point for me,” said Cato. “Just having grown up in the area and having spent the majority of my life in North Carolina, I feel like I have some good, strong connections with the schools.

“Our goal is to put up a fence around the state for the elite academic kids,” Cato continued. “We want to keep those kids that we’re losing to Ivy league schools in this area. Playing at Dartmouth, and beginning my coaching career there, I understand what it takes to get young men here that can also handle the academics.”

Cato didn’t always know that he wanted to coach.

Following his four years playing for Dartmouth (three as a starter at defensive tackle), where he recorded 98 tackles – 14.5 for a loss – and three sacks, Cato spent several years playing professionally in the Arena Football League, Canadian Football League, NFL Europe, and Arena Football 2 League.

In 2007, the Toronto Argonauts released him late in the season.

“I was going back-and-forth about going into training camp that following year,” he said. “I finally decided that I needed to get into the real world and took a job with a (technology) company.”

It didn’t take long for Cato to miss football. He helped coach at Charlotte Country Day, but that just wasn’t enough.

“I remember wondering, ‘What am I doing with my life?’ “ Cato said. “I had bought a condo, and I sold it during the housing crisis for not a lot of money and got a job as a strength coach at Dartmouth.”

Five years later, Cato’s back in Charlotte with his wife, Lauren, and 4-month old daughter, Finley.

This time, it’s with a “real world” job, coaching football, and an exciting career ahead.

“A lot of my friends in the coaching community were very happy for me,” said Cato. “All my high school friends were fired up to see I was coming home. It’s a great situation.”

Seth Lakso is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Seth? Email him at sethlakso@gmail.com.

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