New Castle News

New Castle

March 11, 2014

Steelers Partnership: From rags to riches, Croton native finds success by putting God, others first

NEW CASTLE — As a boy, Damian Williams believed in himself even when circumstances didn’t seem to merit it.

Growing up in poverty in lower Croton, Damian didn’t always know when his next meal was coming.

When hunger pangs caused his stomach to growl, rummaging through a Dumpster in the back of a neighborhood grocery store usually sufficed. There, he found bread and other items that had been tossed out due of their expiration dates.

His family received food stamps, but they were often used to provide others in the family with cigarettes.

At Ben Franklin Junior High, Damian qualified for free lunches, but he wouldn’t use the green tickets to get them. “I had too much pride,” he said.

It might have appeared there was no way out, but the boy was determined to prove that persistence — along with faith in God and one’s self — can overcome obstacles.

Even as a youngster, Damian had an entrepreneurial spirit. He’d stop at Q’s Dairy and use money earned from doing chores for his neighbors to buy a box of snack cakes. Then he’d sell them out of the box for 50 cents each to other students.

“I always found ways to survive,” he said. “We have control over how we respond to adversity.”


Today, the New Wilmington resident is founder and chief executive officer of Leadership League LLC, a multi-faceted company. Damian lives on a 10,000-acre farm with his wife and business partner, Anne, and their two children, Jerica and Markus. His Pittsburgh office is located at the top of the Duquesne Incline in Pittsburgh.

In partnership with the Pittsburgh Steelers and former player and current broadcaster Tunch Ilkin, Damian has co-authored a new book “Forged in Steel: The Seven Time-Tested Leadership Principles Practiced By the Pittsburgh Steelers,” published by Mark Miner Communications.

These principles are used to teach leadership at the annual Forged in Steel leadership forum and in corporate training programs.

Leadership League manages a number of events for professional sports teams, the latest being the inaugural “Steelers Cruise” — involving more than 35 current and former players, as well as hundreds of fans. They set sail yesterday for a Caribbean tour.

“At 38, Damian is wise beyond his years with great poise and maturity,” said Miner, who passed on an initial offer to publish the book. When a second overture came weeks later, Miner hopped on board because of what he saw in Damian. “He understands human motivation and how teams respond to leadership and what good leadership is and what it is not.”

Damian learned it all along the way.

“My parents divorced and we bounced around a lot when I was young,” he said. 

After attending Ben Franklin in seventh and eighth grades, Damian went to New Castle High School for his freshman year. But he went to live with his grandfather, switching to Neshannock High School, where he competed in cross country.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
New Castle
  • Taggart.jpg Arsonists damage New Castle’s football field

    With the New Castle football team just days away from the start of practice, vandals have hit Taggart Stadium. Someone set fire to artificial turf at the stadium and damaged a blocking sled the team uses in practice.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • school.jpg New Castle hires information technology director

    The New Castle school district has a new information technology director. At its meeting this week the board hired Emily Sanders of Cranberry Township to fill the position, left vacant by the retirement of Beth Barber.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • NC_Hoops.jpg Former Lady 'Canes stars reunite for tour of Europe

    Ryenn Micaletti and Abby Allen are headed to Europe. Micaletti and Allen — both members of the 2007 WPIAL Class AAAA girls basketball championship team — have joined forces with News Release Basketball to spend nearly three weeks in Germany and Belgium later this summer playing basketball and helping run clinics.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • High school registration scheduled at New Castle

    Registration has been set for new students in grades seven through 12 moving into the New Castle school district.

    July 15, 2014

  • Police.jpg Couple accused of contacting rape victim

    A man accused of raping a woman at gunpoint allegedly tried to get her to drop the charges.

    July 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • festival1.jpg Break out the bubbly

    New Castle may be the Fireworks Capital of America, but Friday night bubbles filled the air.

    July 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • wampum1.jpg State title ties: Wampum, New Castle teams celebrate incredible success

    Their spectaular success stories are separated by more than a half century. But they sat side-by-side Thursday morning, sharing more than just breakfast at Jata’s Diner, a familiar meeting spot for former Wampum High School players. 

    July 5, 2014 4 Photos

  • Hooker.tiff Male Athlete of the Year: New Castle's Malik Hooker

    Once in a while, an athlete comes along who redefines the very word. Then, there’s Malik Hooker. The New Castle High graduate took athleticism to a level rarely seen before in the area on the basketball court and on the football turf.

    July 4, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • school.jpg New Castle board adopts budget despite uncertainty

    The New Castle school board adopted its 2014-15 budget Monday but may have to re-open it next week. The $5.4 million budget, introduced in May, has no tax increase and will not tap into the fund balance. Taxes remain at 17.72 mills.

    July 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • school.jpg District to sell closed schools, contents

    The New Castle school district will advertise for proposals to buy its three just-closed elementary schools.

    June 26, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads

Would you want to know what your pet is thinking about you?

Yes! I'd love to know what my pet is thinking.
Nah, it's probably not that interesting.
I don't know. I'm afraid of what I might find out.
     View Results