BOONE, N.C. – Upon the retirement of legendary head coach John Weaver, Appalachian State Athletics will turn to two of its own to direct the future of the Mountaineer track & field and cross country programs.
Damion McLean, a 2002 App State graduate and longtime assistant coach, has been elevated to head track & field coach. Michael Curcio, a 1987 graduate, assumes the new title and role of head cross country and associate head track & field coach.
Both moves were approved by Chancellor Sheri Everts and the Appalachian State Board of Trustees on Friday morning.
“Damion and Mike have both done an outstanding job throughout their careers at Appalachian State, and I am excited to see the tradition of excellence within our track & field and cross country programs continue under their leadership,” Director of Athletics Doug Gillin said. “They believe in comprehensive excellence and supporting the whole student-athlete – academically, socially and competitively. We conducted a national search and found that the best two individuals to lead our program are right here, they are both graduates of this great university and have bled Black and Gold for many years.”
The duo has been an integral part of the Mountaineers’ success over the years.
Following his career as a conference champion long jumper, McLean began coaching at his alma mater in 2003 and has mentored 37 conference champions, 104 all-conference performers and six conference MVPs. App State’s track & field teams have captured 30 team conference titles during McLean’s tenure with the program.
“I am grateful and blessed to be the next head coach of Appalachian State Track & Field,” McLean said. “I want to thank Doug Gillin, Brittney Whiteside and the search committee for giving me this amazing opportunity. In this new role, the student-athletes and I will continue to work hard in the classroom and preserve the championship model that this program has built.”
Curcio has coached the App State men’s cross country team and distance runners for the last 23 years and the women for the last 18 years. Combined, his cross country teams have won 15 league titles, and the track & field teams have claimed 38 more conference championships during his tenure. He has mentored his pupils to 363 all-league performances and 75 individual conference championships, as well as four track & field MVP award winners.
“I’d like to thank the administration and the search committee for having the confidence in both Damion and me,” Curcio said. “It’s a new model for the App State program, and I’m very excited that the current staff will continue moving forward. It’s quite an honor for me personally, to continue being part of Appalachian State. I’d also like to thank Coach Weaver and Roachel Laney for bringing me back up the mountain 23 years ago. Coach Weaver entrusted me with the cross country programs. Coach McLean, myself and the rest of the staff will work very hard with our student-athletes to live up to the high standards set by Coach Weaver. We will work every day to live up to the confidence and expectations of Chancellor Everts, Doug Gillin, Brittney Whiteside and Appalachian State.”
Academics has served as a major priority for both men during their Mountaineer coaching careers. Numerous student-athletes have received USTFCCCA All-Academic recognition, Academic All-District honors and NCAA and Southern Conference postgraduate scholarships, while the Mountaineers average more than 30 student-athletes on the university honor rolls every semester.
A native of Lincolnton, N.C., McLean began his coaching career at App State as the jumps coach in 2003 and added sprints and relays to his role in 2013. He has mentored 17 NCAA qualifiers from nine competitors. His athletes hold eight individual school records (three male, five female), and his relay teams own four school records (two male, two female).
Most recently, McLean guided Chelsey Hargrave to the 2018 Sun Belt women’s outdoor long jump title, and had four sprinters, two jumpers and one relay earn All-Sun Belt honors in 2018. His athletes broke three school records this past year, including Jabari Johnson in the men’s indoor 200 meters (21.21) and outdoor 200 meters (20.70) and Jordan Johnson in the men’s indoor long jump (25-2).
McLean presents various coaching techniques and methods at an annual speaking engagement for the NCTCCCA, is a member of the USATF and USTFCCCA and boasts USATF Level 2 certification in the jumps, sprints and relays, as well as USTFCCCA Strength & Conditioning certification. He received a bachelor’s degree in communication with a concentration in advertising and a minor in business from Appalachian State in 2002 after a standout athletic career in which he won SoCon championships in both the indoor long jump (2000) and outdoor long jump (2001). He still ranks third in school history with a college-best long jump of 25-2.
Curcio, who originally hails from Long Island, N.Y., is a 13-time conference cross country coach of the year, most recently after leading the Mountaineer men to the 2017 Sun Belt cross country title. He was also voted the 2003 USATCA Division I Men’s National Assistant Coach of the Year for Distance. On the track, his pupils hold seven school records on the men’s side and four on the women’s side.
This past season, Curcio took a men’s cross country team full of freshmen that was predicted to finish fourth at the conference meet and led it to a Sun Belt title on its home course in Boone. That followed up the women’s team title in 2016. The women were runners-up in Boone last fall. His track athletes earned three all-conference honors in 2018.
Curcio, who graduated from Appalachian State in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education, was a three-time All-SoCon performer in track and a member of four consecutive indoor and four straight outdoor SoCon championship teams as a Mountaineer. He still ranks seventh all-time in the 1500 meters (3:49.60). He earned a master’s in athletic administration from The Florida State University in 1992 and coached at Florida State from 1988-92 and at South Florida from 1993-95 before returning to Boone.