Pickens' Perspective: Danko worthy of milestone victory
If you've ever spoken with Dave Danko, you know that he takes high school girls basketball very seriously.
The Fairfield Warde High School head coach sits on the verge of joining an exclusive club of FCIAC coaches who have won 300 games. Danko currently has 299 and will go for the milestone win tonight against Staples.
If the milestone victory comes tonight against the Wreckers, it will be fitting. Danko's long-time friend and mentor Ed Huydic is a member of the 300- and 400-win club, currently sitting on 415 wins. Danko got his 200th victory against Huydic five years ago and he realizes the significance that Huydic has had on his career.
"I modeled my program after his early on," Danko said. "I consider Ed a top coach in the league."
The more remarkable accomplishment for Danko is the ability he has had to be successful year after year. He's never missed the state playoffs in 16 years as the Mustangs' head coach, and has only missed the FCIAC playoffs once, last year.
I mean, it's not like he is at a private school where he can recruit or find people from other towns. He's basically going with the hand he is dealt, and he's turned most of those hands into winners, including three FCIAC championships.
More importantly, to Danko, has been the success coming at Fairfield Warde High School. He is a graduate of the school, played basketball there and has spent his entire head coaching tenure on Melville Avenue.
I find it hard to believe that there will be too many coaches who devote themselves to their sport the way Danko does around again. He coaches Connecticut Breeze AAU and Warde. These are year-round entities that take constant maintenance.
"I do it for the love of the game," he said.
But that's why Danko loves it. He lives and breathes basketball. If you spend any time with him, you know it. He's a hardcore supporter of Warde athletics, as well. If you're at a game at Fairfield Warde High School, chances are you'll see him there.
But more importantly is the impact he's had on the kids. To an outsider he may look demanding and psychotic at times. But everything he does is for his players. The parents of the program trust that he's going to do what is best for the kids, and he has done so.
"I've been fortunate to have such high quality student athletes come through Fairfield High and Fairfield Warde," he said.
So is there a more fitting person for a 300th win? I can't think of any.