Fife to retire

Dan Fife
Dan Fife

Clarkston News Sports Writer
It will be the end of an era for Clarkston school athletics after Dan Fife retires as athletic director this year.
“It is the right time for me,” said Fife, who will finish his 22 years as Clarkston Community Schools athletics’ chief this fall, on September 30.
He plans to continue coaching the Wolves Varsity Basketball team, however.
“It has become harder to have practice or go home after school and then come back for a game,” he added. “I want to be excited about coming back. I want to see the kids. I am just tired. You have to enjoy it. I don’t want to be tired coaching. I want to be sharp.”
But he’ll miss his job as head of athletics, working with students.
“Always the kids,” he smiled, adding he has enjoyed being around the players and getting to know them in their own world.
Superintendent Dr. Rod Rock said while Fife has been affected by players, the community has been affected by him.
“Countless teachers, administrators, parents, and community members have been positively affected by Dan,” Rock said.” As an athlete, a coach, person, father, and administrator, his accomplishments are remarkable.”
As athletic director, Fife has had the opportunity to watch the athletes from the sidelines either it be football, girls soccer, swim, tennis matches and all the sports Clarkston has to offer.
“It makes your job a lot more enjoyable to be able to go watch the game in a supportive way instead of just watching the officials and the coaches,” Fife reflected.
He also enjoyed watching the growth of the athletic programs including the struggles and the successes in the programs as well as watching the players grow.
“Often times coaches are judged on the amount of trophies we have in our trophy cases,” Fife said. “Our trophy cases are full of many things of our successes. But really those kids who leave Clarkston, those are our trophies of who they become.”
He added it’s not just seeing the students in athletics but also seeing them being successful in their academics as well as the performing arts, visual arts, robotics program and everything the school district have to offer.
“I was at the senior awards for our kids and graduating in 1967 we were just barely over the numbers to be a Class A school at that time,” said Fife. “Seeing the growth of the school in everything and the opportunities for our kids today is so impressive to be a part of Clarkston. Clarkston is a special place.”
He currently doesn’t have plans for retirement though spending more time with his ten grandchildren is part of the plan.
“I don’t know what to do when I wake up in the morning and am not coming into the school,” Fife said before glancing around his office. “This room is my room. It’s my second home.”
He added is also always on the move and doing something.
“Anyone who knows me, knows I don’t like to sit down very often. I am on my feet doing something. I don’t know what you do when you wake up and don’t have no plan on what you are going to do,” Fife said. “So many people say you have to have a plan. I don’t have a plan.”
He does plan on continuing coaching for a year and possibly more depending on how he feels.
“I don’t have a time table of when I will retire from coaching,” he added. “I don’t want to coach too long. I don’t want the game to outgrow me. I want to still be able to make the right decisions with kids and I want to leave when I still feel young. Although I do and always will maintain the values I was taught from my father which were just as important as the ones from my coaches and teachers I had while in school at Clarkston – Be accountable for your actions and be responsible for who you are.”
Since he has spent a majority of his life in athletics he feels some of the best lessons come from playing sports.
“You can fail a test and make up for it. When you fail in playing sports you get knocked down. Sports teaches you to get up and fight through it,” he said. “Because I have been immersed in athletics my whole life I refer to my athletic thoughts and what I have learned in athletics. Everything I have been through in my life it has helped me even with raising my kids, job opportunities, taking this job and illnesses. Athletics teaches you to get up and fight. Dealing with an official we learn not to react. You try to keep your composure. Try to deal with a tough boss as opposed to a tough coach.”
He paused and then smiled, “often times I think if a coach is the worst thing a kid deals with – God Bless them because most of the coaches put their heart and soul in. As a player you may not understand but they care.”
Fife added if it wasn’t for teachers coaches would struggle.
“That’s what makes us special,” he said. “Our teachers – how hard they embrace their job, how hard they work and often times don’t get recognized. If they are asking for the same kind of commitment in the classroom as we are in the athletic arena – we are all trying to help kids be the best they can be. I couldn’t be successful without our teachers and without our administration.”
He was offered the opportunity to apply for the job as athletic director in 1994.
“As far as I can remember I have been playing athletics all my life – youth sports, high school, college, professional sports. So I thought I was pretty familiar with athletics and the idea of how athletics work,” Fife said. “As far as an athlete I had a lot of different experiences throughout my life – ups and downs.”
He also had experienced coaching not just on the high school level but at the college level as an assistant, too.
“We did have issues with players and the highs and lows of players,” Fife added. “We had issues with their families so I felt I had a pretty good background with experiences not only through my own experiences playing and coaching at the college level. It really helped me see athletics from both sides.”
He was offered the position and began his term as athletic director in the fall of 1994. When he took the position, he also wanted to continue coaching which was approved.
“I felt that also helped me,” Fife added. “Coaches knew they wouldn’t have issues because I was one of them. I was experiencing the same thing. I knew the hardships and what they were dealing with most of the time because I was right there with them either experiencing it with them or had been in the situation. Coaches knew I had their back.”
As far as his legacy as an athletic director and a coach, Fife paused as he glanced at the wall with the Clarkston Boys Varsity Basketball team photos and the faces of all the players he has coached since starting as head coach in the 1982-1983 season.
“My legacy is the kids on the wall – that’s who I am,” he reflected. “That’s who our basketball program is. Either they know it or not that is who we are. They have had an impact on me.”

3 Responses to "Fife to retire"

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.