Buffalo, NY - Coming off the heels of their most successful season since taking over the women's basketball program, Head Coach Dan Glover and the Spartans have built a special group of individuals all working towards one collective goal.
In the team's eighth year under Glover, the women posted an 18-9 overall record and a 15-5 conference record - good for third in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC). In addition, the team earned two all-conference honors as Danielle Hore earned first team honors while Sara Pfeiffer earned second team honors and newcomer of the year - the second consecutive year that the award was brought home by a Spartan.
Under his guidance, the women have had nine all-conference players, three newcomers of the year, three playoff appearances, and three 1,000 point scorers. Glover currently sits second all-time in program history in wins and is closing in on the career milestone of 100 wins.
In addition, three former players have all joined the women's basketball coaching staff after concluding their careers with the program. Of those former players turned coaches, former four-year player and two-sport athlete Darian Evans is a Lake Shore graduate as well.
However, the mainstay of Coach Glover's coaching staff has been Associate Head Coach Dan Gerken. The relationship between Glover and Gerken extends back to high school where Glover played under Gerken at Lake Shore High School.
Gerken has been part of the D'Youville coaching staff for five years, joining the staff in 2015-16. He has brought character, leadership, and experience to the coaching staff.
That relationship has grown exponentially over the year, helping result in the team's success each and every year. The two men took the time to reflect on their time together and gave insight to their special bond.
What was it like playing under Gerk?
Playing for Coach Gerken was a great experience. He was an individual who cared so much about his players as athletes but even more so as people. He was a coach that would give the shirt off his back for his guys. He was always someone that I knew I could count on no matter what. He made sure his players had opportunities to work and get better. During high school I remember him picking me up and dropping me off at home so that I could get to camp and get better in the offseason.
What did you learn from Gerk as a player that has translated to how you coach now?
I think one of the main things I learned from Gerken was how to treat people. How to be a coach who wants to win but to also remain true to your character and be caring and compassionate. To always give credit to others and stay humble. As a coach, I try to remain as much of who I am as a person off the court as a I am on the court. I learned to be true to myself and never change who I am. I think in doing that, players have trusted and believed in the message we are trying to deliver. There are also a few things we did in high school that I picked his brain on and we have as staples of our program now here at D'Youville.
What does Gerk bring to your coaching staff and the team as a whole?
Coach Gerken brings this (sorry Gerk) "Dad" persona to the program. He is someone that I trust in, the players trust in. He brings a lot of knowledge and experience to our staff and the program. He is a great educator, motivator, and provides a lot of joking and comedy to the staff and team. Overall, Coach Gerk is a crucial part of this program and my success as a coach. I continuously learn and try to be a sponge when around him and soak up as much knowledge about x's and o's,relationships, self care, and life in general.
What are Gerk's biggest strengths as a coach?
Knowledge, experience, integrity, character, and his ability to tell a story and use it to bring people together.
What was Danny like as a player?
Danny was always in love with the game of basketball. From the time he was a little guy running around at his brother's games, through summer camps and then during our seasons together, he was always passionate about the game. He was/is a hell of a shooter and would work as hard as his body would allow. The way he has handled adversity in his life and moved forward is a testament to the type of young man he is.
What made you want to join Coach Glover's staff when he asked you to be his assistant/associate coach?
I stepped down from coaching at the high school level because my children were beginning to play school sports. I distinctly remember coming up from our locker room at Lake Shore and speaking on the phone with my son who had a modified basketball game, that I missed preparing for our game. The excitement in his voice became disappointment in my mind when he said, "You should have seen it Dad, I had 17 points and we won." I knew it was time to step away and take care of my family. When Danny asked me to "help out when you can," it seemed to be the best of both worlds. Danny and I had remained pretty tight over the years and through his playing career at D'Youville. I still have the video of his senior game when he set the school record for the most three's and a great picture of the two of us after the game. I was just so proud of him as a player and young man that I could not turn down the invitation to work with him.
What is the biggest difference you've noticed from the high school to collegiate game?
The fact that you do not get to see the players in the hallways all day and share in their educational experience. With the proximity of the players at the high school level I could reach out at any point of the day to get a message to them or touch base with them. We now have the electronic ability, but it is not the same as face to face interaction - too many things can get misinterpreted when communicating electronically. Another difference for me personally, is that I was a graduate of the school I was coaching at, so many of the players that came through the system had a family connection that was already present. In the vast majority of the cases, that was a good thing!
What has been the transition like from head coach to assistant/associate coach?
I get to be the good guy all the time. The biggest difference I think is that I am not the final decision maker. It is Coach Glover's program and system and my job is to help make that system work. We share a lot of very similar thoughts in terms of philosophy and strategy so it is not a huge difference. In addition, Coach Glover is always willing to listen if I think that maybe there might be a different way to accomplish the same goals he has set forth. It is also my duty as the Associate Head Coach to help keep him focused on the next play and not get too involved with differences of opinions with the officials.
What makes Danny a successful head coach at the collegiate level?
I think the same things that made him successful as a player. His passion for the game and his true enjoyment of watching other passionate people share that love. He is constantly looking to learn and grow.
When did you coach at Lake Shore, how long have you been there, and what do you teach?
I coached basketball at various levels at Lake Shore from 1985 until 2013 with a break in the 1988-89 season to serve as an assistant at Alfred University with the men's program and served as the Academic Enrichment Coordinator, monitoring the freshman athletes and their academic progress. I also moved to Ohio and had a year away from coaching. I coached as an assistant with the Varsity Football team for 6 years, 1 year as Girls Varsity Soccer Coach and 3 years as the Boys JV Volleyball coach, I teach within the Academy of Business and Finance at Lake Shore.