By BRIAN JENNINGS
You can see him high above the bleachers in the press box of Fontana Field at every football game during the fall. You find him right behind the Blue Knights’ bench at every basketball game during the winter, and you can spot him out in the dugout wearing his white Southington cap at every baseball game during the spring.
Steve Daniels has dedicated his time and love to Southington athletics for years, but when it comes to keeping statistics for the Blue Knight football team, every number is accurately recorded down to the inch. His remarkable work for the football team over the years was recognized on Sunday, May 15 when Daniels received the “Outstanding Contribution to Football” award at the National Football Foundation’s Northern Connecticut Chapter’s scholar-athletic dinner, which was held at the Aqua Turf in Plantsville.
Jude Kelly presented Daniels with the award, as he spoke before scholar-athletes at the dinner about how the qualities of Daniels make him such a respected person, not only in his contributions to sports, but also in the way he lives his life. Kelly is a former Southington High School football coach, who enlisted Daniels as the team’s statistician.
“There are characteristics that we see in people that just stick out, which cause us to respect them and cause us to want to be around them,” said Kelly. “But if you ask Stevie to do something for you, it would be done, even on short notice, and he does it with that Stevie smile. It would be done better than anyone else could do it, including yourself.”
Not only could you keep your trust in Daniels, as Kelly explained, but you can also rely on Daniels to be a great listener as well.
“When you ask Stevie a question, he will answer, but only if it is a positive response that is not negative regarding anyone,” said Kelly.
Daniels attended Southington High School in the 1970s and wrestled for the Blue Knights when the program first started in 1974, and that strength carried him long after high school graduation with issues that he faced through physical disabilities and illness.
“How about tough, resilient, and having grit?” said Kelly. “Stevie has dealt with all of life’s difficulties, always with that smile. Yet, he never complained or asked for help.”
Kelly said that Daniels has believed in a value of being unselfish as well, always putting other ahead of himself.
“He lives through one of my favorite quotes: ‘Do whatever you can, for whomever you can, whenever you can, and expect nothing in return,’” said Kelly.
Kelly worked with Daniels at Southington High School for 17 years where Daniels was a member of the football booster club.
“I can remember him sitting there in meetings, just listening,” said Kelly. “He would answer a question that he always seemed to have an answer to, but not until he was asked.”
Daniels eventually became the club treasurer and took care of the club’s finances, and Kelly stated that the club never needed an audit.
“It was Steve, and everyone knew that every cent would be accounted for,” said Kelly. “And his football stats were so perfect, fair, and accurate. He continuously amazed the sports writers with his meticulous attention to detail. The coaches, players, and parents all loved and respected him for the job he did and the person he is”
Although Daniels may not have been thought as a teacher or coach, Kelly said that Daniels was to him because of the lessons he taught and demonstrated that had a lasting impact on the people he has come in contact with.
“With his humility, he is often overlooked,” said Kelly. “He is Southington’s finest, and Steve bleeds Southington blue through and through. He is a man of a few words, but is a long-lasting example of how to treat people and live your life. He is everyone’s friend.”
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at email@example.com.