Monday, January 11, 2010


We meet people throughout our lifetime...anywhere, anytime and at different circumstances. Some people we connect with...we feel a genuine warmth, a bond and a friendship quickly forms. This was the case with John Daly...a stellar guy whom I met 6 years ago.

My boys, John and Mike were in the third grade and they went to Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Scarsdale, NY to tryout for the CYO basketball team. They were super excited, as was I. There on the court, was this very professional looking a dark suit, instructing the boys on doing drills. He did not look like a church volunteer, but rather a professional NCAA Basketball Coach. His style, mannerisms and seriousness all struck a cord in me. After some time, all the boys sat around in a circle and John spoke. He let them know, that this was basketball...not a recreational team, but a real competitive one. He was going to be teaching them skills...skills that they could develop and keep for a lifetime. John's motto was, "Play Hard and Play Smart". He only wanted dedicated boys on the team. This wasn't the NCAA however, John ran the team, as proudly as any College/University coach.

I met his wife Liz that night. She was in charge of registration. What John did on the court, Liz did behind the scenes with her organizational skills. Completing the forms, it said, "Emergency Contact", I so naturally asked Liz, whom I just met, if I could put her name down. She said, "sure, I am always here".

Well, that night I can still remember vividly in my mind and heart. You see, John did become my boys basketball coach for two wonderful years. In fact, my daughter Julia, also in the third grade, (being a triplet) was invited by John to train with the boys during the practices. He loved her smiling face and dedication to the sport and would say, "do you want to play"? She would shyly respond with a little nod, "yes" and John said, "then come on, what are you waiting for"?

As I write this, I fight the tears in my eyes and more deeply, in my heart. You see, John, whom later became my friend, passed away suddenly at a basketball game. I was not present at that game. However, on his way to that game, right after New Year' John was pulling out of the church parking lot, he saw me, opened his window and yelled, "Happy New Year Kath"! That was the last time I saw him. During the game, my dear friend, not feeling well, hugged his son and another boy he loved, gave them a kiss on the forehead and walked out of the gym. He collapsed in front of the building. John passed away shortly thereafter.

Today, three years later...the spirit of John Daly lives on. One way he lives through my beautiful children. You see, they all learned from the best...a man who taught them much more than how to dribble a basketball. He gave them all something...something special, which they keep closely within their heart and mind when they play basketball. You can see it and feel it! They play with fierce determination and concentration. They play as if their Coach John, is still watching them from the bench. They try and make as few mistakes as possible. They "Play Hard and Play Smart" or at least they try each game.

Although in my opinion, John left this earth way too soon...he is not really dead. Quite the contrary. John is healthy, alive and his home now, is in Heaven. John's spirit and soul live on...forever. He can see us and watch over us. He can lovingly guide us from Heaven too, if he wishes. When our bodies fail us on earth, we do not die. We leave our physical bodies and proceed in spirit to where we came from. To our real home...a place that is peaceful, happy and filled with love. That is where my friend is...I know this for sure.

Our life on earth, is not all we have. It may be the ending of "what we know and love", but it is the beginning of a new journey. No one really dies...things just change. It can be hard, sad and difficult to lose someone we love. John Daly left behind two incredible, loving boys, Jack...probably the best elementary/middle school basketball player in the world! In third grade, he could score 12 points, in under 2 minutes of the game, single handed. And Matt, his younger brother, who played basketball too and strived to be everything for his father. Matty always gave 100% in each game...because they learned from the best, their father.

Liz, Jack and Matt...I today am still sorry for your loss. My heart aches for all of you...Please know that your husband and Daddy is OK. John is with God...and God is taking good care of him! Till we all see each other again...

(Under John Daly's loving guidance and John Campana, Assistant Coach, the boys went on to win the 3rd and 4th grade CYO State Championship.)


Anonymous said...

Kathy, That was a beautiful piece you wrote, John had a tremendous effect on all of us,kids and adults..Thanks for sharing ...


Jim Fargiano said...

Beautiful sentiments, Kathy. Thank you for giving us a peek at one of God's angels on earth...and now back to heaven.

K. Frangeskos said...

Dear John,

Thanks for your kind compliments. The time we spent together will forever be forged in my mind and heart.
You were a big part of that team spirit...and I too, will never forget your loving coaching for both my boys.
Nothing can compare with you and John Daly...the fun, victories, lessons and laughs!

With love and thanks,

K. Frangeskos said...

Dear Jim,
Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts...
Heaven has some great people!
Best regards

Anonymous said...

I do not know John, but I sighed a prayer for everyone that knew him. He sounds like a great guy!