Passion, Persistence, Pride, and Patience

by Jhon G. Lindarte

In our Hispanic community there are figures of inspiration who make us feel proud of our origin and culture. One such person is Rochester’s, Daniel W. Dunne. Dunne who is considered a “Neorican” (his mother was born in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico), has demonstrated throughout his life the passion, persistence, pride, and patience needed to be successful in the fields of sports, and education.

Through his love of basketball and teaching, Dunne who is 60, has had the opportunity to pursue, and achieve a modicum of success in three of his life dreams: playing collegiate and professional basketball, teaching, and coaching basketball.

In 2021, he was selected as an Observer in the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Assistant Coaches Program. This intense sixth month program that concluded in September, is designed to teach a select group of former NBA, G-League, WNBA players, and a qualified coaching group of Observers the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the skills needed to be an NBA or G-League Assistant Coach. The program’s extensive technical training included how to operate scouting and video editing software; training in analytics; learning how to do player evaluations, develop detailed scouting reports, and individual player development plans for players at the G-League and NBA levels. Dunne was proud to be the only Hispanic, and the only one from New York in last year’s program. Plus he was by far the oldest participant in the group (by probably twenty years).

Dunne’s vast coaching experience…which includes positions with the Premier Basketball League’s Rochester Razorsharks, being a FIBA (international basketball’s governing body) certified coach, working the Open Tryouts for several G-League teams, (Raptors 905, Long Island Nets, Delaware 87ers/Blue Coats, Lakeland Magic), Monroe High Schools Girl’s Varsity Coach, coaching at the collegiate level at SUNY-Brockport, Niagara University, and Molloy College, and internationally (USA, Puerto Rico, England, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Ecuador, Burkina Faso, and Australia), as well as running his own player development company, Full Court International, along with scouting for the Harlem Globetrotters, and several teams in international leagues, plus having played and worked with renowned coaches such as Bill Raftery, PJ Carlesimo, Dave Cowens, Jim Lynam, Jerry Stackhouse, Stan Heath, and Robert Spon, certainly made Dan an attractive candidate for an Observer position.

Portrait photo of the coach by Karen Fien

“I was very happy and excited about being selected to participate in the Assistant Coaches Program! The selection process was very competitive! To be part of such a prestigious program, and to be trained to coach in the best professional basketball leagues in the world, and being the only Hispanic participant was mind blowing! I learned more than I ever thought I could learn about the technology, and am now comfortable in using most of the software…something I would not have said six months ago. The program also taught me that coaching in the NBA or G-League is a TOUGH job, and you HAVE to have a high level of passion for the game to put in the time and effort to coach at that level”

In August, Dunne interviewed with three NBA G-League teams for a position on their coaching staffs. He was a finalist for two of the three teams, but ultimately was not selected. “Naturally, I was disappointed that I did not land any of the positions. I know I did well in the interviews. The Assistant Coaches Program really helped me to get ready to be a G-League Assistant Coach, and I am thankful for the opportunity to have been strongly considered by the three teams that interviewed me.”

Dunne is a retired Bilingual Social Studies teacher. He taught at Monroe Middle/High School in the Rochester City School District for 30 years. A vast majority of his students, who were from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba, were limited in their knowledge of English, or, English Language Learners. Dunne taught U. S. History in Spanish and English. His emphasis was not only to help his students learn the course work, but also help them to acclimate living in a new culture, climate, learn a new language, and to be proud of their native culture, language, traditional and rituals. “I tried to instill in my students to develop an interest in something they liked to do and were good at, and to fuel their desire, passion, to build an internal strength…to persevere! There were going be people who would tell them that they could not follow their dreams, that they can’t follow their heart, to be what they want to be…but I would encourage them to have pride in who they are, and in what they wanted to do with their lives.”

Many of the life lessons Dunne taught his students were learned on the basketball floor. At 6’10” Dunne played at New York State powerhouse, Long Island Lutheran High School, where he was a “Preseason Honorable Mention All American” in 1979. Through his hard work on the court in developing his basketball skills, and in the classroom, he earned a basketball scholarship to NCAA Division I, Seton Hall University. He was the second Hispanic, after his teammate, Ray Ortiz, to ever play in the Big East Conference. Dunne’s mother having been born in Puerto Rico, made him eligible to play as a “Neorican”, in the very competitive Puerto Rican Superior Basketball League. He played four seasons in the Superior League, winning the League Championship in 1978 as part of los Piratas de Quebradillas. He was also named to the Puerto Rican Junior National Team in 1978, was on the Puerto Rican National Team in 1979, and was named to the 1980 Puerto Rican Olympic Team. He also played one season in Australia.

The basketball related skills he learned and embrace…to be respectful, pay attention to detail, have a positive attitude, listen, learn, play hard/intense, learn/play to improve, but have fun in the process! The importance of enthusiasm, work ethic, that there are no short cuts, working together towards a goal, learning and using fundamentals and basic skills to build upon are important to develop better playing techniques…carried over not only to his classroom teaching, but also to his coaching career.

Even at age 60, Dunne who had tasted success on the basketball court as a player and coach, and in the classroom as teacher, is willing to keep working and wait his turn for the “right coaching position” to offer new generations his knowledge and experience… to instill in his players that the key to success has many faces: dedication, academic education, being unselfish, discipline, and commitment. But mostly to have Passion, Persistence, Pride, and Patience!

To learn more about Dunne, visit his website: www.fullcourtinternational.com

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