Becoming a coach was always part of the plan for Mark Linebaugh.

“I think I knew that at a pretty young age,” said Linebaugh. “I would even say that going into my high school years, I knew that was the direction I wanted to go.”

Linebaugh just wrapped up his second season as the head coach of the Lycoming College men’s basketball program.

“I’ve been fortunate to have been at a couple of different levels and just learning about NCAA Division III and how things work here and the balance between the academics and the athletics side, was something that was important to me,” he said.

Working in Williamsport is the latest stop in a basketball odyssey for the Annville native.

Before Linebaugh was a coach, he was a standout player who helped Annville-Cleona High School win a PIAA state championship during the 1998-99 season.

“From a team perspective, understanding the connectivity of that group, how everybody unselfishly did what they needed to do,” said Linebaugh. “It was truly about the group.”

Linebaugh was the star for the Dutchmen. A player who would finish his career with 1,847 points, 33 of which came in the state championship game against Quaker Valley in 1999.

“He had incredible internal drive,” said Scott Pera, Linebaugh’s head coach at Annville-Cleona and the current head coach at NCAA Division I Rice University. “Mark was as motivated as any player I have ever coached. He just was laser-focused on wanting to be great, wanting to be coached. … For a month in March, that year in 1999, he didn’t miss a big shot that mattered one time … he made them all.”

Read More: From JV to the AAC: Scott Pera’s journey as a basketball coach

“As we got older, we kinda had the right mix, being in a small town like that, being able to accomplish what we accomplished was certainly a special thing,” said Linebaugh.

After his high school career was over, Linebaugh played Division I college basketball at Colgate University. He scored 1,349 points for the Raiders, was named the Patriot League Rookie of the year in 2000-01, and performed well enough to earn a professional basketball opportunity in Denmark for Falcon Basketklubben in the Danish First Division.

Mark Linebaugh. (Photo provided by Lycoming Athletics)

It was during his time in Denmark that Linebaugh’s coaching career began. After his first pro season, he was offered the position of player-coach.

“It wasn’t easy,” said Linebaugh. “I earned their respect as a player, playing with those guys from the beginning. The hardest thing was … trying to run up and down the court and you’re still trying to coach at the same time. You’re trying to see different things, you’re worried about substitutions. That made it a little bit challenging.”

After a few years abroad, Linebaugh returned to the United States and dropped the “player” part of player-coach. He started his college coaching career at Dickinson College before returning to his alma mater as the head coach at Annville-Cleona High School from 2008 to 2011. For the second time in his life, he moved from Annville to Hamilton, New York, and became the director of basketball operations at Colgate. Next up were assistant coaching stints at Hobart College, Rice, and Dickinson (again).

After his second stop in Carlisle, it was time for Linebaugh to become a full-time head coach.

“I think it was one of those situations where the timing was right,” said Linebaugh.

He was hired to lead the Lycoming program prior to the 2022-23 season.

“It was one of those situations where I knew a little bit about Lycoming over the years but not a ton,” said Linebaugh. “(I) went through the interview process, got to campus, and was certainly impressed with the administration, and the people, and the campus, and the school, and just seemed to be a perfect fit.”

Pera added: “He knows that area very well. He knows the D3 landscape of Central Pennsylvania … very, very well. He’ll be a very good recruiter because of his passion and ability to develop players. He just knows the game.”

In Linebaugh’s first season as head coach, Lycoming went 16-10 overall and finished second in the MAC Freedom division. The Warriors played their first season as a member of the Landmark Conference in 2023-24 and struggled by finishing with a 9-16 record.

Despite the win-loss results, players say Linebaugh’s leadership guided them through a season of ups and downs.

“He kept it real with us,” said Lycoming freshman forward Hayden Pardoe. “It’s a process and that’s what he continues to preach … and all we can continue to do is work hard, grow together, grow this program and hopefully get better and compete for some championships in the future.”

Championships are something Linebaugh knows how to win. Just look at what he did at Annville-Cleona.

“For me, it’s the competitiveness,” said Linebaugh, when discussing how his time at A-C has impacted his coaching career. “It’s also the part where you keep moving forward. … Don’t stop, no matter what the situation is.”

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TJ Eck joined LebTown in January 2024. He has been a sports journalist for more than 10 years. Aside from covering sports feature stories for LebTown, TJ covers boys basketball for and serves as a sports correspondent for TJ began his journalism career in 2013 as a...


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