Grady Gallagher has the vision to keep the Western Dubuque boys basketball program moving in the right direction.

After three successful seasons leading DeWitt Central, the 28-year-old made the family decision to apply for the Bobcats’ open post and was quickly offered the job earlier this week.

After a landmark 18-5 season under Wayne Cusick that took the Bobcats to the Class 3A state tournament for the first time since 2012, Cusick quietly resigned last month. He’ll continue teaching at WD, but was looking to dial back his duties.

“I’m super excited,” Gallagher said. “When the opportunity became available, I talked to Coach Cusick and asked him if they would be interested, and if I was someone that they would even take a look at. He said I’d be a great fit, so I decided to apply. This is a good spot and I’m very excited for this opportunity.”

Cusick finished with a 27-38 mark over three seasons as head coach of the Bobcats, and was an assistant under Dennis Geraghty since 2012.

“I’m ready to start a new journey,” Cusick said. “I’ll keep teaching until I feel like I’m ready to move on from that, too. It’s been 38 years coaching, and last year was special. The players gave us everything they had, and I love and appreciate everything the players and our staff put into last season.

“After 38 years, I’m ready to move on and start a new journey, a different path. It was fun.”

The Bobcats are hoping Gallagher is the man to keep it moving forward.

Gallagher prepped at Woodbury Central and played four years at Buena Vista University, graduating in 2015. After three years as an assistant with the Sabers, he took over the program and led DeWitt to a 40-27 record over three seasons. His 2019-20 squad finished 18-6 and fell just short of the state tournament.

After losing a majority of his starting lineup from that team and the Sabers joining the Mississippi Athletic Conference this past season, DeWitt finished 12-11.

“Grady has a great demeanor to lead a program,” WD athletic director Tyler Lown said. “He has a strong vision for what we want the program to be, and that’s a K-through-12 program and to do things the right way.

“His integrity is one of the first things that comes to mind. He builds relationships off the court and will continue to build our multi-sport culture at Western Dubuque, which is something we take great pride in.”

Gallagher’s wife, the former Paige Kluesner, is a 2010 Western Dubuque graduate who recently accepted a first-grade teaching position at Farley Elementary School. Most of her family lives near Farley.

With plenty of family support around him, it’s time for Gallagher to give the MVC a go a year after tackling the MAC.

“I see a lot of similarities between DeWitt and Western Dubuque,” Gallagher said. “Both playing 4A schools and both playing in a very tough conference. You have to be prepared night in and night out, and you have to bring it every single night. Even if you’re prepared, that still might not be enough.

“This is a good fit in that I’m a young coach and will hopefully be here a long time with lots of family in the area. Coach Cusick, and the coaches before him, have done a great job putting the program in a good spot and it’s very exciting for me to be coming to a family area that preaches multi-sport athletes. I might be a basketball guy, but I love all sports.”

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