Daniel McGuire

Dan McGuireDaniel McGuire tragically passed away in a 1976 automobile accident. Here are some words about him.

The scene is etched in Bill Hodge’s mind like it happened yesterday . . . he won’t ever forget the day he met Dan McGuire.

Hodge, who was then starting his first year as Moore Catholic track coach in September of 1976, was trying to round up candidates for the squad when he came across the tall, athletic-looking McGuire. Hodge remembers his sales pitch. It went something like this:

“How’d you like to join the track team?” Hodge asked

“That’s a fairy sport” was McGuire’s reply.

“Oh?” Hodge retorted. “I guess you’re pretty tough.”

“Yeah, I’m tough” McGuire shot back.

“Well, track’s a tough sport” Hodge came again. “Why don’t we see how tough you are? Why don’t you run track for two weeks and see if you can handle it?”

“We’ll see” McGuire said.

That day McGuire came out for practice and never missed another (save a bout with appendicitis and a few days he had to work) in over three years – until 15 days ago.

It was three weeks yesterday that Dan McGuire, 17 years old was killed in an automobile accident. The entire Staten Island high school track family has be convalescing ever since.

Especially the Mavericks – and their coach.

“I’m single” Hodge began, “and I don’t foresee a family of my own in the future right now. But, if I was ever to have a son, Danny is like what I’d want my son to be. He had so many good attributes – he was tough, a fine athlete, and combined that with a sensitivity toward his fellow human beings.”

“He had an infectious humor that would keep me and the team up, even when the going got tough,” Hodge added. “And he had that added quality of setting a goal, trying to attain it and never giving up.”

That latter attribute is one McGuire had tried to spread among his teammates. That’s why Hodge still took his squad to Sunken Meadows, L.I. two days after McGuire’s death to compete in the St. Anthony’s Meet when some other teams would’ve been deciding whether to continue with the season at all.

“All kids have sayings and Danny had one too” Hodge noted. “He used to say ‘Dig it! We’re the best!’ That’s why we went to that meet. Danny wanted us to become number one and didn’t want anything to deter us from attaining that goal.”

Hodge recalled the emotion that ran through every member of the team during the uncharacteristically quiet bus ride to the meet. “The bus driver asked why everyone was wearing black arm bands and I explained to him about Danny,” Hodge said. “He extended his sympathy and, after the hour drive to Sunken Meadows he must have sensed the emotion. He came over and asked me if I would mind if he wore an arm band too.

“That’s something coming from a total stranger.”

And then there are those who knew him. The day of the accident, Hodge received calls from virtually every track coach on the Island expressing their sympathy. There was also the mass at Moore, in McGuire’s memory, on the day he was buried. Some 800 people – students, fellow coaches and runners, alumni and others – packed the school’s gym at 8:00 a.m. to pay a final tribute.

“An outpouring of this type of emotion only happens for a truly beautiful person,” Hodge said, before adding, “which Danny was.”

He was also quite a runner. As team captain last year (a post his teammates elected him to), McGuire was a member of the mile-relay team that finished first among Island teams and the two-mile relay team that finished third. His 0:52 clocking in the quarter-mile was the reason he was ranked among the top 10 juniors in the city in that race last year.