Leaverton Returns To RoughRiders...As Coach

By Jeff Johnson, Reporter

Cedar Rapids RoughRiders' Doug Leaverton (left) fights with Green Bay Gamblers' Robert Shea during the first period of their game at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena on Saturday, March 28, 2009, in southwest Cedar Rapids. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

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By Grant Burkhardt

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Doug Leaverton was working as a server in a restaurant back home in suburban Cleveland when he read on the Internet that the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders had run out of assistant coaches.

Travis Winter left the club to take a heading coaching position in the NAHL. Phil Tetzlaff was relieved of his duties.

So he figured as many times as head coach Mark Carlson had helped him during his days as a RoughRiders player, it was time to pay him back a little and learn about the game while wearing a suit and tie instead of a jersey.

“I called up coach and asked him if he needed help,” Leaverton said. “I just want to come in and help out the team any way I can. It might be something I want to get into down the road, and there’s no one better to learn from than coach Carlson. Just the way he runs the team, runs the organization is always impressive and first class. Overall, it’s just a great opportunity to be back here.”

“When he said he wanted to help, we welcomed him back with open arms,” Carlson said.

Leaverton, 24, played for the RoughRiders the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons as a defenseman. He played two seasons at Colorado College before deciding to leave and has been working and saving money since.

And trying to figure out his next move. This might help him.

“It’s interesting, a lot different than playing,” Leaverton said. “It gives you a little different perspective, more perspective on what coaches actually do and go through on a daily basis.

“I’ve thought about trying to get back into the game at some level, whether it’s here or overseas. I’m always trying to stay in shape just in case. But it’s just great to be back in the game in some aspect.”

Leaverton is a volunteer coach, so is not being paid. He has moved back in with his old billet family, actually.

He first arrived in town last Saturday, a couple of hours before the RoughRiders played the Dubuque Fighting Saints. Late in that game, Dubuque coach Jim Montgomery became upset with a hit one of his players received from a RoughRiders player and began screaming at Carlson through the glass that separates the team benches.

Leaverton listened to the berating for a minute, then gave it right back to Montgomery.

“I told coach right before the game, ‘Do me one favor and don’t get kicked out,’” Leaverton said with a smile. “He said ‘I’ve never been kicked out even one game, and I take great pride in that.’ I just told him ‘All right, I should be good then.’”

The RoughRiders play Friday night at Dubuque and host Waterloo on Saturday night.

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