A Life In Soccer, Joyfully Lived

Many readers know that besides “06880,” I have a side gig: coach of the Staples High School boys soccer program.

I’ve been involved in the game since I was 11 (as a player in Westport’s pioneering youth league, then at Staples), and from age 22 on, as a coach. I was named the Wreckers’ head coach in 2003.

The game has given me so much. It attracts smart, creative people. It teaches important life lessons, on and off the field. It is at once beautiful, tough and fun.

But now is the right time for that Staples coaching job I’ve cherished and loved to end.

With a full heart, great joy, and tremendous appreciation for countless friendships and a lifetime of memories, I have chosen this time to retire as head coach of the Staples High School boys soccer program.

The 2021 Staples soccer team celebrates a win.

This is a perfect time to make way for the next generation of coaches. Our program is strong and vibrant. We’re coming off a very successful season, with one of the greatest groups of seniors I’ve ever worked with. Our superb staff has ensured that the pipeline continues.

I began coaching in 1975 – the same year I graduated from Brown University. I coached dozens of teams – including sub-varsity at Staples – and in 2003, was named head coach. I am only the 3rd permanent varsity coach in the program’s 64 years.

Working with thousands of athletes; traveling the globe with teams, spending 19 years in the magnificently intense world of varsity soccer, and playing a small part helping boys become young men — on and off the field — has been the privilege of my life.

Joy after a state tournament victory. (Photo/Barry Guiduli)

I’ve coached players who went on to play in MLS, and who won national college championships (as player and coach). I’ve coached players who have gone on to make their mark on the world in a wide variety of professions, and on their communities as volunteers. Soccer has impacted them, in many ways. They have impacted me, too – many of them profoundly. I would not be who I am without them.

Similarly, my life has been enriched by so many colleagues: coaches I’ve worked with, and competed against. Administrators, trainers, teachers, soccer volunteers – all have made me a better person.

Some of my best friends are my coaching foes. (Photo/JC Martin)

I am proud of the state championship we won at Staples, our 4 FCIAC titles, and the many teams that fell just a game or two short. I am equally proud of the 18 Academic All-American awards we have won for team GPA, and of the tens of thousands of dollars we’ve raised for scholarships, and causes like cancer research and underserved youth.

I often say “there’s more to life than soccer, and there’s more to soccer than soccer.” I’m still not sure what that means, but I have gotten more out of this game than I ever could have imagined.

I’m leaving coaching, but not the game. I’ll continue my work with United Soccer Coaches at the national level – concentrating on high school and LGBTQ advocacy issues – and with the Connecticut Soccer Coaches Association. I’ll keep writing for Soccer America.

And of course, I’ll cheer for Staples soccer from The Hill at Loeffler Field. I’m told it’s the best spot in the state to watch a match.

PS: Of course, I’ll now have even more time to devote to “06880.” As we transition to a non-profit organization, we’ve got some exciting, community-wide ideas to bring to fruition. Stay tuned — and go Wreckers!

The beautiful game. (Photo/Brian Watkins)

90 responses to “A Life In Soccer, Joyfully Lived

  1. Paul Lenihan

    Thank you Coach, Amazing run and great stewardship of the program!

  2. Seth Schachter

    Dan, congratulations on your retirement from coaching soccer! Your dedication to working with so many players over the years is quite impressive on so many different levels! You have no doubt been a positive influence for so many! Amazing job!!!!! Best——

  3. No, Dan, say it ain’t so!

  4. Susan Siegelaub Katz

    Wow Dan – this is big! Looking forward to reading and hearing about all your new adventures.

  5. It is indeed the end of an era. Kudos on a long and storied career.

  6. Marjorie Almansi

    Dan – you are a leader in our community both on and off the field. This is a loss for the future soccer players but a win for the rest of the community if we get more of your time devoted to absolutely anything you touch. I’m sure this was a very hard decision. Much love and respect to you.

  7. Danny,
    Congratulations!! You have done it ALL!! WRECKER NATION is so proud of you and Thanks You for All you have done for so long. Most importantly, you have touched so many young lives, you have been there for the kids for so many years, and since knowing you for as long as I have, I know you will continue to be there for the kids. Danny, enjoy sitting on the hill, enjoy looking back on All that you have given to Westport & Staples Soccer, and most importantly what you have given to the youth of Westport. Thank you!!

  8. John & Kathy Brandt

    Job well done coach Dan. Farewell well written, as usual. Go Wreckers!

  9. Jan Carpenter

    Congratulations on all you have done and the more to come!

  10. Carol Waxman

    Congratulations on a well-deserved healthy and happy soccer retirement!
    Best wishes for your next adventure and a continuing of 06880!
    Carol Waxman

  11. Dan, the torch is being passed as a coach and we all thank you for the impact you made on so many Staples soccer players and their parents over the years.

  12. Congrats on a long and amazing run, Dan!

    • Thank you, Dan, for all you have done for Westport! Also, I’m curious who Jim Hood is. I knew a Jim Hood who worked the miniature golf, and was the son of Harvey Hubbell.

  13. Congratulations Dan. Thank you for all you do for our great community!

  14. Alan phillips

    Thank you Dan!

  15. Danielle Dobin

    Wow – the is the end of an era. You’ve had a profound impact on so many students, on and off the field. I know the program will continue to thrive but you’ll be deeply missed. My next door neighbor still remembers being on your team in the late 80s!! Exciting to see what’s to come for 06880!

  16. Robert Selverstone

    Well lived, Dan! Generations of young men are grateful for you and your work.

  17. Congratulations, Dan!

    • Chip Stephens (SHS '73)

      Way to go Coach! Now it’s time to enjoy from the sideline and watch your work and success with the Staples Soccer program continue to thrive thanks to the greats Albie Jeff and Dan.

  18. Congratulations Dan. What an amazing run you’ve had and what a great program the Staples has established from Albie Loeffler to you. Big shoes for the next coach to fill!

  19. Congratulations Dan! How do you do it all?

  20. Amy Schafrann

    Wow! I echo Tom Wall’s sentiments on all you have done for so many Staples students over the years, both on the field and supporting their academics, activities in the Arts and college aspirations. As someone who has sat on the hill as long as you have been on the field, I truly appreciate all you have done to support Westport youth. Congratulations and I look forward to seeing what’s next with 06880!

  21. Ken Bernhard

    Well done and well said. Very proud of you. Ken Bernhard

  22. Heart-felt congratulations, Coach, on completion of a stellar, admirable career. Particularly heart-felt for a several reasons: as one who had the great joy of being coached by Albie Loefler before the first Staples Varsity team ran onto a field with him, as an 8-year old at the All Sports Day Camp he ran with the great Coach Paul Lane; As someone named after a great coach, Pete Morgan of Trenton High and Princeton, and as one who was taught by my father, whose last day of coaching was the last day of his long life, that the title of Coach is the one he respected above all others, no lie. So let me say again, with every bit of that respect; congratulations, Coach.

  23. Rick Carpenter

    Dan, you did a great job. I moved back to Westport this past year and was so glad to be able to watch the Staples team from the hill. They were a great team and obviously well coached (they deserved to win the title). See you on the hill next season.

  24. There are coaches, and then there are Coaches who impact the lives of those who played for them. You will always be a Coach. Thank you for a job well done.

  25. Thanks to everyone! No one gets into coaching for the compliments — but these mean the world to me. I am truly blessed by the friendships and relationships I have made through this great game, and doubly blessed to have been able to coach in a community like this. See you on The Hill!

  26. Dan, we always knew you were great and now News 12 says so too! Congratulations and the best for your future endeavors.

  27. Lauren M. Barnett

    Dan- what a heartfelt farewell. Congratulations on all of your accomplishments and thanks for your dedication!

  28. Nancy Axthelm

    Just fabulous.
    Great thanks and congrats on all that you have done and will do!
    We’re lucky to have you.

  29. Matthew Panos

    Congrats Dan on taking the torch and then knowing when to pass it on!

  30. Thanks for all you have done, Dan.

  31. Tom Kashetta

    This town owes a lot to Dan Woog. Thank you Dan for all you do !!!!!!!

  32. Chuck and Mimi Greenlee

    Thanks Dan Woog not only for your Soccer contributions but for all you have done for our town!!
    Sincerely Chuck and Mimi Greenlee

  33. Catherine Walsh

    Well done Dan. On to the next chapter.

  34. Michael Calise

    Congratulations Dan and best wishes for continued success in all you do!!

  35. Stephen Axthelm

    Wow Dan, all of these accolades are truly deserved. You have contributed greatly and continue to enrich our community. And your work will help these young men for their entire lives. I used to tell the softball coaches at the beginning of the season, “if you do this right they’ll remember you”. They’ll remember you.

  36. Dan, from one recent “retiree” to another, Congratulations on a coaching career that has set a standard for every coach to come. As someone who knows a number of the athletes who have benefitted on and off the field from your guidance, you have left a great legacy. Enjoy a long “retirement” in good health.

    • Thanks, Jim. It’s been a great ride! And I appreciate you always coming to our end-of-year banquet (even beyond Westport: The Norwalk Inn was the only place big enough for us), and making our players and parents feel great with your presence and praise. It meant more than you’ll ever know!

  37. Amy Saperstein

    Beautiful piece Dan! and exciting new chapter!!! Congratulations on all your success!!!

  38. Roseann Spengler

    What a gift you have been to Westport’s soccer community. Thank you from one mom whose kids knew you. Much success as you move forward with 06880.

  39. Mary Sikorski

    Dan, Congratulations on your well-deserved retirement! Wishing you all the success, good health and happiness in your next chapter!

  40. Danny, amazing career, bravo!!!! Although I did want to mention that I thought you took me out of the game a little prematurely, in that tournament final in Annandale VA in 1976.

  41. Congratulations Dan. You have done so much for the Beautiful Game over the years….a true Westport legend.

  42. Martha Corneck

    Dan, Great memories of the seasons and thank you for all your efforts in designing and maintaining such a good program. All the best as you redirect your efforts into other interests!

  43. Congratulations on an illustrious coaching career Dan!! Now this will give you more time to watch the Dutch play!! LOL.

  44. Dan, for a long time you have been a wonderful, sometimes brilliant guide for our sport and our kids that will stand them in good stead for all their lives.
    Thank you!

  45. Thank you Dan for everything you have done for Staples and soccer and what you continue to do for the Westport community as a whole, not the least through 06880. Well done and Happy Retirement.

  46. Wow, Dan. I gotta admit I’ve been wondering when you’d make this decision. Congratulations on a wonderful, long career. There is no doubt that you’ve made Coaches Loeffler and Lea real proud of the way you’ve carried the remarkable tradition that is Staples Soccer. Enjoy this next chapter of your life. I’ll miss our occasional post game disections of this or that.

    Be well.

    Be happy.

    David Abrams, ’74 – last man off the bench.

  47. Robb McDowell

    Congrats on a spectacular career Dan! Thank you for everything you’ve done for Staples Soccer.

  48. What an incredible run, Dan! Your impact will be felt for generations to come.

  49. You’re the best, Dan! A town treasure!

  50. Congrats to you Dan, enjoy your next chapters and thanks for all you’ve done. I’m proud to have been on one of your teams, the experience has stuck with me!

  51. Bravo Dan for a great run with Staples soccer and beyond in Westport. Its been great knowing you as a bright eyed boy on High Point Road and seeing you grow into a fine coach and example for our young men. I look forward to seeing how your next chapter unfolds!

  52. Dan. A coach with the highest values and purest integrity. A shepherd of boys to men. A wit unmatched but dusted for all to enjoy. Congrats on a great run my friend.

  53. Marc Selverstone

    Huge congrats, Dan, for all your contributions on and off the field. You’re a mensch!

  54. publisher@westportjournal.com

    Congratulations, Dan, on a long career. Your legacy is all the good you have instilled in the players you’ve coached.

    Doug Weber

  55. Best wishes on your “retirement” and well done for an excellent coaching career – can I share Bill Shankly’s (Iconic Liverpool manager of 60’s) comment (which is in line with you “soccer is” – “football is not a matter of life or death…. It’s far more important than that!” Thank you for coaching Staples!


  57. New directions renew our energy and keep us young and involved

  58. Joshua Berkowsky

    We’ll all miss you at games, Dan! Best of luck in all endevors, now and forward!

  59. Mike Stroetzel

    Very nice article. Congratulations on becoming a part of such a wonderful place in Staples High School Soccer History. I came from the class of 1970….The Steve Baumann, Scott Williamson, era. Rode the bench most of the time, but had the honor of being Tri-Captain of the intermediate team. I will never forget those years. I will continue to follow your 06880 posts daily. Wishing you the best in future days.

    Mike Stroetzel – Staples 1970

  60. Congratulations! Thank you for all you have done!

  61. Peter Gambaccini

    What the 60-plus people ahead of me said. Some of us watched you grow up, and then watched you help so many other young folks grow up, and only part of it was about soccer. It sounds like you’ll still be contributing in plenty of ways that will make life fun and fruitful. It’s been an interesting life and that won’t change.

  62. Congratulations Dan! I was beyond fortunate to be coached by you and am lucky to this day to call you my friend. Best of Luck with the next chapter! Pete

  63. Alessandra Urist

    Dan, you make “It takes a village to raise a child” so true with your dedication and commitment to our village. Congratulations.

  64. Deb Rosenfield

    Well done, Dan! You’ve given back so much to this community and we all thank you. On to the newest chapter….

  65. A journey well taken on a ride with one of the classiest sports programs in Connecticut and beyond. The tradition, passion and connection that those who have played on that sacred ground below the hill have taken with them is truly a special memory that touched so many lives. Your efforts as a coach, sportswriter and promoter of “The Beautiful Game” has surely touched and enriched countless lives. And as you so eloquently wrote, the joy and satisfaction of molding young boys into soccer players and fine human beings has been such a rewarding and enriching journey that those who work with young people are given.

    From someone who spent fifty years below the hill as a referee, I can say time spent officiating games there was always such a satisfying experience. Players, coaches and fans were always respectful and with such a high quality of skill, games were an exhilarating experience to work.

    Take all those wonderful memories with you and hold them close as I am sure you will. The Westport Community, the players who you coached and the soccer community were fortunate to have a man of your character, commitment and compassion in a leadership role.

    To a new chapter; A Renaissance or rebirth of new visions and dreams to follow.

  66. Patricia McMahon

    Bravo and many Congrats on all of your success and accomplishments Dan.
    They were just a blessed and lucky having you .

  67. Clark Thiemann

    So many congratulations on 19 years of success as varsity Wrecker head coach and many more of making a difference at all of the other levels you coached.

  68. Bobbie Herman

    Dan — I’ve often said that you’re the glue that holds Westport together, and even this ex-pat, living 1/2 mile over the Westport/Fairfield line, will always be a Westporter, thanks to you.

    I wish you the very best in your new venture, and thank you for all you’ve done for so many, especially those of us who don’t play soccer!

  69. Bravo!

  70. Dan, congrats on a great career as a coach! I’m sure you have had a positive impact on hundreds, if not thousands of kids. What a legacy you have. Best wishes moving forward.

  71. Not one but two remarkable careers! You are a town treasure and we are lucky to have you. Congratulations and thank you for all you do!

  72. Dan- thank you for all you have done for soccer! Being part of Staples soccer was a life changing experience for Rob. I hope the wonderful post-soccer community you built for the boys- the Turkey Bowl etc- continues on. You have been a great coach and mentor to so many. Congrats and best of luck with your new nonprofit endeavor!

  73. Rich Avitabile

    Congratulations Dan. Staples soccer and the whole Wesport community has been lucky to have your enthusiastic guiding spirit. Best wishes for more success in your future endeavors.

  74. Congratulations on your retirement from such a fabulous and rewarding run. Although a ton of work, it likely didnt feel like it since your love, passion and concern for the sport and students always took priority. Looking back will provide warm memories, but looking forward provides exciting new opportunities and adventures – some of which your readers and friends can hopefully share in.

  75. Fredrik Martenson

    Dan, congratulations on an amazing coaching career! You have nurtured the incredible legacy of Staples soccer. On a personal note, thanks for all you have done for Chris!

  76. Lauri Weiser

    Congratulations, Dan, on another job well done!! Looking forward to hearing/seeing about your new adventures!

  77. Peter Barlow

    Hi Dan. Well, I don’t know anything about soccer but I know you are successful at many things so all these tributes seem very sincere and accurate and impressive. Cheers!

  78. Kuku Fleming

    Dan, you don’t say!

    You are a rare breed of character, thoughtfulness, integrity and compassion. Thank you for all that you’ve done for Staples Boys Soccer and for our town.

    Does this mean I’ll be seeing you more at the pool?

  79. Harriet Smiley

    Thanks for all you have done for soccer, in general, and Staples soccer, in particular. Best wishes to you as you continue on life’s journey.

  80. Chris Marcocci

    Hi Dan, congratulations on so many levels!! Well done my friend!

  81. Nicely done with grace and eloquence, as always. Be well.

  82. Tamarra R Pincavage

    Thank you for all of your contributions toward making Westport the fantastic town it is!

  83. Ngassam Ngnoumen

    Congrats Dan! Great coaches pour so much into developing our kids. Thanks for your lifelong impact!