SPRINGVILLE—Dan Troy has been coaching football for more than a half century and was on the verge of retirement until a twist of fate brought him to Springville as the new defensive coordinator, to help rejuvenate the Griffins’ defense.
A part of the North Tonawanda coaching staff last season, Troy’s Lumberjacks took part in a preseason scrimmage with Springville and during the course of that scrimmage he had an opportunity to meet and talk with Springville varsity coach Rob Valenti.
“If there was one thing that I could feel, it was [Valenti’s] passion for the game and how dedicated he was to his program,” Troy said while reflecting upon that first meeting. “It starts with the coaching staff and how loyal they are to the head coach and to the program, and I sensed that immediately.”
Troy said he was surprised when his phone rang with a coaching offer from Valenti after the end of last season. After a few standard questions to Valenti, Troy agreed to come on board.
While none of those questions focused on the team’s talent level, they did focus on the players’ character as well as the parents, community and administration. The more recent coaching years for Troy had somewhat soured the joy he had experienced for so many years prior.
“I still get a great deal of pleasure and joy out of it, but what had been happening at various programs – and not all programs – is that there were lots of problems, not only with the kids, but with the parents and the administration,” he said. “And that combination [of problems] just didn’t seem worth my time and my effort. I didn’t know if that was a sign of the times so I asked [Valenti] about the kids, because in all these years the approach and the work ethic and those kinds of things have changed.”
Valenti assured the incoming coach that his players at Springville were different and now having been around them for some time, Troy agrees and thinks they’re good kids with a decent work ethic. Another thing that impressed Troy was the community support. Troy says the turnouts at Friday night home Springville games remind him of those at now-Bishop Timon- St. Jude High School years ago.
In addition to Timon and North Tonawanda, Troy has spent the past 36 years with six other schools that include Williamsville South, Niagara Falls, Williamsville East, St. Joe’s, Tonawanda and Canisius. The latter three he returned for second stints that were all preceded by 17 years of coaching Parkview Little League football.
After beginning the season by introducing his defense in three Sunday excursions at the Buffalo Bills Fieldhouse, the team has taken part in a few seven on seven scrimmages prior to the official opening of Springville football Aug. 13.
If there’s one thing he’s seen so far, it’s been improvement.
“If your kids show a desire to improve themselves and they’re working at it, what more do you want, and that’s what I’ve seen so far,” he said.
Prior to this week’s start Troy and Valenti hosted four day clinics that focused on weight training and introducing both his new defense and Valenti’s new offense with the plan of being up to speed by this week’s official start to the season.
Asked if his new defense could be characterized as more aggressive or conservative, Troy said it’ll be a mix.
“We’ll use a combination of both. There’s a time and a place to be aggressive. To me, it all starts with technique and after that you have to know your assignment,” he said. “You’ve got to be prepared and preparation ranks high on my list with success, so that’s what I stress but it takes time.”