Sitton much more than rugby head coach for the Arizona Wildcats
At the UA, some might think of Dave Sitton as the men’s rugby head coach. Some might think of him as the voice of Wildcat sports. The truth is, Sitton is all that and more.
Sitton’s rugby career started when he was 18 years old.
When Sitton was a junior at the UA, he was selected to play on a regional U.S. team in England and Wales. There he became friends with Jon Evans, who according to Sitton was one of the world’s finest rugby coaches.
“He instilled a fire in me to coach rugby,” Sitton said.
During his senior year, Sitton was a coach as well as a player, which he said was a disaster.
But he stuck with it, and is now in his 39th season with the UA rugby program.
“He’s really involved,” said Craig Samoy, a senior flanker for the UA. “He’s really well known and brings a lot to the club. He’s passionate; you can tell he cares about the program.”
Sitton has turned rugby into a career, not just as a coach, but as a broadcaster as well.
Originally, Sitton came to the UA to play baseball. After he blew out his shoulders, he was offered a position to do play-by-play for the UA baseball games on the radio.
When the U.S. National Ruby Team expanded onto television, Sitton happened to be the only American with both rugby and announcing experience, and thus,, his broadcasting career took off.
Besides rugby broadcasting, Sitton has been the voice of UA sports for over three decades and has won multiple Emmy Awards for UA football and basketball telecasts. Networks he’s worked with include ESPN, ABC and NBC Sports and his commentating has been been broadcast worldwide.
Sitton has also managed to juggle various positions in the community that don’t relate to rugby.
For 25 years, Sitton has served as Chairman of the Board of the Tucson Pops Orchestra, where he performs as an MC and a vocalist.
In 2009, Sitton received the United States Marine Corps’ “Outstanding Citizen Citation.” He now serves as an honorary commander of the 55th Rescue Squadron at Davis-Montham Air Force Base.
Sitton also has lifetime status with the Tucson Conquistadores, an organization of businessmen from around the community, and the Centurions of St. Mary’s Hospital. Those are only some of his many accomplishments.
Although Sitton has an incredibly busy schedule, he’s managed not to miss too many rugby matches over the years. Even cancer couldn’t stop him.
On his 50th birthday, Sitton was diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma. After eight chemotherapy sessions, Sitton said he murdered cancer. There was no remission — the cancer was just gone.
“I missed games the weekend I was being diagnosed, and that’s it,” Sitton said. “After we started my chemotherapy sessions, I didn’t miss any Arizona basketball broadcasts; Fox Sports let me broadcast with a baseball hat on when I did baseball. I didn’t miss any more rugby matches or practices. I kind of just told cancer I wasn’t interested and went on with my life.”
Rugby has taken Sitton all over the world, from Scotland to New Zealand, Hong Kong to Texas. At the end of the day, though, Sitton says the relationships he’s made through rugby are what keeps him coaching.
“I’ve stayed in contact with an incredible number of players and ex-players that have become friends and family friends,” Sitton said. “The friendships we’ve been able to develop have been remarkable.”
Sitton’s dedication to his players is reflected in the success of the team.
Last June, the Sevens team placed second to Dartmouth University in the Collegiate Rugby Championships in Philadelphia. The Sevens will compete again this summer.
“He was able to put UA rugby in the group,” Samoy said. “We’re committed to the program.”
The Fifteens rugby squad finished 8-4 in the regular season, which earned them an at-large berth in the national tournament. They will host a regional Fifteen-A-Side tournament on April 27 and 28 at Rincon Vista Stadium.