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Dan Vasquez will bring coaching experience in various sports to Madison this winter as the new assistant coach for the Hand boys’ ice hockey team. (Photo courtesy of Dan Vasquez )
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After gaining a good amount of experience coaching different sports during the past year, Dan Vasquez is looking to take the lessons that he learned and apply them at Daniel Hand High School.
Dan played multiple sports at Newington High School before moving on to Central Connecticut State University and then transferring to Eastern Connecticut State University. On the coaching front, Dan was an assistant coach for Xavier ice hockey last winter, a JV lacrosse coach at Cromwell this spring, and is now serving as a defensive backs coach for the Hartford Public football squad.
This winter, Dan will be back on the ice at a new site when he begins his first season as an assistant coach with the Hand boys’ hockey team.
“I was looking for another coaching job, and I learned a lot from the Xavier staff and was looking to apply it with a different program,” says Dan, a former All-State First Team ice hockey player who lives in Newington. “I saw the opening on the CIAC website and applied. I met with [Head Coach Luke Galvin], and he was a good guy and very welcoming. I like the town of Madison and heard good things about Hand. I think it’s a good fit, and I’m excited.”
Sports often models life with all of its ups and downs. Dan uses the similarities between the two to fuel his coaching approach, while teaching athletes how to strengthen their character by overcoming setbacks.
“I like to use winning as an educational tool. How you bounce back and handle adversity is big in life,” Dan says. “You can learn a lot from sports, so I like to use those lessons as a priority with coaching.”
Dan says that he isn’t too concerned whether his roster features the leading point scorers in the state. He likes fielding a team of players who score the hustle points that don’t show up on the stat sheet.
“I love seeing the kids work hard and produce for the team. The harder you work, the more you’ll get out of it,” says Dan. “I like to see them grow in skills both on and off the ice and be respectful of the team. I also want the kids to support the community around them.”
Dan knows that Coach Galvin brings a wealth of knowledge to the rink, and so he feels optimistic about helping him continue creating a culture that benefits everyone involved.
“Hand has the talent to compete with many teams. Luke has a lot of experience and has been in all levels of the game, so we have a strong base to grow from with the support of the community,” Dan says. “We want to have the experience here where the kids don’t have to play hockey somewhere else and have that close community feel.”
Galvin says there were many suitors for the Tigers’ assistant coach position, but Dan’s pride and passion for coaching won out in the end.
“Coach D’s application was one of several interested people that we received. All the applicants had well-stocked résumés. What impacted me the most about was how people I spoke to talked about Dan just as a person. Energetically, good to the bone,” says Galvin of Dan. “Being an accomplished three-sport athlete—an accomplished hockey and lacrosse player and already well immersed in coaching amateur sports—all this coupled with a strong personal presence and a tremendous energy, Coach D is a great fit for our program and how we want to build. His presence makes us instantly improved and stronger, and we have not even started yet.”
As he gears up for his first year at Hand, Dan wants to foster healthy bonds among the boys on the ice, while also getting everyone—including potential future stars—excited about Tigers’ ice hockey.
“I want to have good relationships with the players and show them the value of the game on and off the ice,” says Dan. “Long term, I want the team to compete and have the numbers go up. I want kids in middle school to also be excited about playing here.”
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