Darren Berkley led Massaponax to five Commonwealth District championships in eight years before recently announcing his resignation. (submitted photo)

Berkley hitting the railroad, ending ‘labor of love’ coaching Fredericksburg-area hoops

by | Jul 8, 2024 | ALLFFP, High school sports, Sports, Spotsylvania

Darren Berkley was a fixture on the Fredericksburg area high school basketball scene for nearly two and a half decades. 

Berkley was the head coach of the boys’ basketball team at Fredericksburg Christian School for 13 years, followed by a three-year stint at King George and the past eight years at Massaponax. His teams won 388 games in that timeframe. 

Berkley recently resigned as head coach at Massaponax following a campaign in which the Panthers reached the Class 5 state tournament and played for the Region 5D championship. 

“Coaching basketball is a labor of love, and I’ve loved it around here,” said Berkley who also spent two years coaching middle school at FCS. “I’m really going to miss the kids, the assistants and the camaraderie of the coaches and the community.” 

Berkley, 53, is returning to his hometown of New Castle, Pennsylvania to assist with the family business of owning and operating a short-line railroad. 

He said the relationships he built with members of the basketball community in the region will be his lasting takeaway, as well as winning five conference championships at FCS and five Commonwealth District titles with the Panthers. 

Berkley, who considers himself a man of faith, also said he’s proud that he did not receive a technical foul in public school competition and reached the state final four at both public and private schools. 

“That’s a pretty good run in 24 years,” he said. “Couldn’t ask for much more. Always give God the glory though.”

Berkley was a standout guard at Houghton University in New York, where he graduated in 1993 and was inducted into the school’s Hall of Honor in 2021. Berkley used his playing experience to mentor the guards on his high school teams.

He said he plans to coach again eventually in Pennsylvania, but likely as an assistant. 

“I think there will be some involvement,” Berkley said. “I’ve been a head coach so long that it’ll be nice to give back and help. New Castle is a small town in the Pennsylvania rustbelt. I think there’s some interest, but I don’t know if I’ll jump in right away. It depends on how busy I am and what my responsibilities are [with the railroad].” 

Berkley coached several future college standout performers at FCS and Massaponax, including former University of Maryland and Virginia Tech guard Seth Allen. While Allen helped FCS reach the state semifinals in 2011, Dorion Staples, who went on to compete at Division I SIU Edwardsville helped lead the Panthers to the 2020 Class 5 semifinals. Berkley also coached alongside former Massaponax standout guard Aaron McFarland, who became an All-American at Division III Christopher Newport University, and later joined Berkley’s staff. 

“It’s been a great run. Massaponax was a really good fit and [athletic director Stan Clements] was great to work with,” Berkley said. “I felt like it was a really good transition there. We had some talent. There’s no doubt, you don’t win without talent.” 

Berkley said Massaponax should be viewed as an attractive option for aspiring head coaches. The Panthers have begun advertising the vacancy. They were 20-7 last season and lost 40-39 in the state quarterfinals to eventual Class 5 runner-up L.C. Bird. 

“It’s a great job,” Berkley said. “There is a lot of talent there. It is not empty.” 

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