In the world of collegiate basketball, when you say "Dandan" the first person that comes to mind is Frederick Oliver "Ricky" Dandan, Head Coach of the UP Fighting Maroons. Few are aware that another Dandan is involved with the squad from State U - Mark Dandan, one of the Assistant Coaches and son of Coach Ricky. When I first met the UP coaching staff last season, I didn't think the two were even remotely related — from my perspective, the only thing they had in common was the way they shook their heads.
A graduate of AB Interdisciplinary Studies at the Ateneo de Manila University in 2008 and currently pursuing a Diploma in Exercise and Sports Science at the University of the Philippines as his second degree, Coach Mark knew early on that he was destined to fall in love with the game of basketball.
"I had a ball in my hands when I was three years old," he recalls. Growing up in a basketball-loving brood, Coach Mark says his transition from player to coach was a natural progression. He says he owes his becoming Assistant Coach of the UP Fighting Maroons to his dad, who wanted him to experience coaching in the big leagues. "I guess he just wanted to give me a break, since I had been coaching for Ateneo High School as well," he says.
Coach Mark won't say that there are best and worst parts about having a working relationship with his father. The loyal son says that despite having to 'take his work home' with him every single day, he enjoys having Coach Ricky as both a dad at home and a boss on the court. "The best part is that we get to talk about lots of stuff. "It's basketball 24/7. Yun yung pinaka-bonding namin," he says.
Interested to know more about their life at home, I asked Coach Mark what's the one thing that few people know about Coach Ricky that he felt everyone ought to know. "When he's at home, he smiles a lot more. You can actually even hear him laugh," he says with a grin.
Acknowledging that they are exactly alike in terms of being hot-headed and their choice of words for scolding their players, among others, Coach Mark makes it a point to develop and utilize his own coaching style. "I don't want to be my dad's clone," he says. After all, the pressure of being 'Ricky Dandan's son' has plagued him almost his entire life. Coach Mark recounted how some people thought his getting into the basketball team of La Salle-Bacolod was a result of a few strings his dad, then head coach, pulled. "It's nothing new to me," he says. "I just brush it off."
Considering himself the only coach in the league who wears kicks, Coach Mark says his biggest asset is being able to easily relate to the players because of his young age. However, the way I see it, his biggest asset would have to be his intense passion for not only the sport of basketball but also for teaching skills and life lessons and molding the players into the best they can be. "Syempre, one cannot coach forever, [but] I plan to," he laughs. In fact, he and his friends are thinking of starting a personal training business. "Anything that I can still relate to basketball," he says.
And when asked what his outlook was for the Maroons this season, "Final Four," he chirped. "Period."
Call me biased, but for a very young age, Coach Mark is definitely looking like he's on his way to becoming one of the most promising, effective and well-loved coaches of the sport.
Editor's note: The blogger's views do not represent Yahoo! Southeast Asia's position on the topic or issue being discussed in this post.
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