There wasn’t much fanfare surrounding Barry McLeod’s decision. He sent an email to the school principal at Bridgeport Central.
That was how Barry McLeod made it official: he is retiring after 26 seasons as the head boys basketball coach at Central.
“My wife (Sandra) has been driving up to games at places like Norwich Free Academy for a long time,” McLeod said. “This is now a year-round job if you want to be successful.”
McLeod, 64, said he had been “flirting with the idea” of retiring the last five or six years. He retired as a physical education teacher at the school in 2017.
“I’m going to miss the hell out of it to tell you the truth,” McLeod said.
McLeod did indicate back in February that last season could be it.
“We (he and his wife) will sit down at the end of the season and we will see,” McLeod told Hearst Connecticut Media. “It won’t be for too much longer. I don’t know for sure.”
In typical McLeod fashion, he is unsure of exactly how many career wins he has: it is believed to be close to 400 since he took over the job with the 1993-94 season.
He won his final game: 80-65 over McMahon on Feb. 21, 2019 on the night the court was named in his honor.
McLeod starred at both Notre Dame of Bridgeport and then Centenary College alongside future NBA great Robert Parish. McLeod was an assistant at Sacred Heart with former longtime coach Dave Bike when the Central job opened.
“Dave said, ‘Are you nuts (about taking the job)?’” McLeod recalled. “I thought I could do it. When I first took the job, we had some tough years.”
But McLeod slowly turned things around. The Hilltoppers went on to win three FCIAC tournament championships (2010, 2013 and 2014) and three Class LL state championships (2003, 2010 and 2014).
The Hilltoppers finished No. 1 in the New Haven Register’s state media poll in both 2010 and 2014. Both times, McLeod was named the New Haven Register’s State Coach of the Year.
All of the championships carry their own special meaning for McLeod, but it is a particular tournament win that stands out: defeating St. Joseph in the 2012 FCIAC tournament quarterfinals. It was the only loss the Cadets had that season en route to a second consecutive Class LL state championship.
McLeod remembered the score of the beatdown St. Joseph gave Central on its home floor on Feb. 3, 2012: 92-56. He also remembers leaving the final result on the scoreboard for his players to see — and remember.
And of course, there were all of those Park City battles against Harding and former coach Charlie Bentley and Bassick and former coach Harrison Taylor.
McLeod said he doesn’t anticipate coming to see any home games for whomever replaces him. He hopes its longtime assistant Mike Rose.
“It will be difficult for me to go back there. I will go see the team play on the road,” McLeod said. “I have some fantastic memories that no one can ever take away from me.”