In Memory

Daniel A. Van Detta (Dir. Phys Ed)

Daniel A. Van Detta (Dir. Phys Ed)

Dan Van Detta Fatally Stricken         by Paul Bostwick

Daniel A. (Danny) Van Detta, director of physical education in the Batavia schools where his coaching career spanned more than 30 years, collapsed and died of a heart attack Wednesday night, December 13, 1972, while driving from the Senior High School to Genesee Community College. He was 60.

The well-known and popular sports figure known affectionately as "Coach," had suffered a heart attak four years ago, but his only consession to that was to give up coaching football. He was in his fifth year as director of physical education and had coached baseball through last Spring. He also was director of the city's highly regarded Summer Recreation Program.

During World War II he was commissioned on the battlefield in Europe and awarded the Silver Star, the nation's second highest honor, for gallantry in action.

Coach Van Detta, who resided at 246 East Avemue, had been at the Senior High School where a wrestling match was taking place. He decided to drive to Genesee Community College where the BHS swimming team was participating in a swim meet. He was accompanied by Miss Elizabeth A. Dimmick, health education teacher at the Junior High School and a close friend of the family.

En route to the college, Coach Van Detta stopped the vehicle for a traffic signal and suddenly collapsed at the wheel. Miss Dimmick drove him to nearby Genesee Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival at 7:10 p.m.

Few men have left the impact on athletes that Coach Van Detta left on those he coached.

Daniel Van Detta's 1932 Batavian Senior photo:

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02/16/15 03:43 PM #1    

Glenn F Corliss

His obituary couldn’t say it better “Few men have left the impact on athletes that Coach Van Detta left on those he coached”. His wife once said that they didn’t have kids because the players were their children…and they would invite a few of us to their house for pizza.

Coach probably had as much influence on us as a drill sergeant has on raw recruits.   He not only taught us how to play football, but taught us how to be men. One prime example was; one of our classmates used the” f “ word while having a disagreement with another coach.  Back in 1964 this was tantamount to running over someone in a wheelchair.  Coach made it a point to approach every one of us who was friends with that student and made sure that we knew how wrong his actions were.  He didn’t have to; nor was it a sport he coached, he just wanted to reiterate how grievous being disrespectful to an authority figure and the use of the wrong words was.

Coach used a paddle to motivate and punish his players.  A prime example of coach using the paddle to motivate was him swinging it at Brigg’s head when the ball snapped.  It took a couple of hits to motivate Tom to drop back faster. (they don’t coach football that way now adays)  When you had messed up (practice or school) the pain of the punishment on your buttocks was never as bad as the mental anguish because you knew you had disappointed Coach.

Coach loved his cigars.  However, he caught one player smoking cigarettes and made him practice all season, but didn’t allow him to suit up for games.  On school nights, Coach used to drive around town looking for players that were out  later than his football player imposed curfew. I remember how sad I was when Coach told me I wasn’t big enough for big time college football. But Coach sent off  game films to colleges where he had contacts or thought I might be able to continue my football career.  Obliviously he did this for other players (see below)

Our senior year we had an amazing team (lost one game by one point) because of talent and his coaching:

Bob Stevens (tight end) broke his ankle, missed most of the season, lost all chances of scholarships.  Bob was a fantastic basketball and baseball player also.  ( Coach had me learn the tight end plays so I could help Bob’s replacement remember/execute  the plays)

Jim Starr (tight end) numerous academic scholarships (implied to play sports), went to Cornel

Karl Buckholtz (tackle) junior, don’t remember college choice

Glenn Corliss (tackle) numerous academic scholarships (implied to play sports )went to Alfred and played football

Jim Keller (guard) too small for college football

Jerry Tiberio (guard) numerous academic scholarships (implied to play sports) West Point appointment

Jim Pastore (center) football scholarship to Wake Forest

Tom Briggs (quarterback)) football scholarship to Wisconsin (rumor is-girlfriend got scholarship also)

Ronnie Constantino (half back) too small for college football

Pat Woodring (half back) football scholarship to Purdue, played behind LeRoy Keyes

Bill Bossler (full back) football scholarship to Miami

02/17/15 05:15 PM #2    

Allen B Chatt

Excellent eulogy, Fred. Early on in 8th grade football, Coach, not knowing any of us, pulled us out of line based on our size, to position us on the team. One of the highlights of my life was being positioned at Fullback and Safety. Forever grateful to Coach for this recognition! Did well, particularly on defense, since the only plays for the FB were 30, 31 & 32. Only lasted a year though: nature caught up with me by 9th grade. Then, while playing intramural basketball against the teachers, Amby Ryan fell on my leg, breaking my ankle ... school insurance covered the expense AND discovered I was blind in one eye ... no more school sports for me after that. RIP Coach.

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