Niagara Gazette — Dan McDermott couldn't help but laugh when longtime friend Joe Catalano first asked him to help coach the Cardinal O'Hara girls basketball team. McDermott honestly wondered if he knew enough about the game in those days.
He was either being extremely modest or is a very quick study.
One of the most storied varsity basketball coaching careers in Western New York history came to a close a few weeks back when McDermott officially stepped down from his position with the Cardinal O'Hara Lady Hawks.
“I'm indebted to Joe Catalano,” McDermott said. “Not only for giving me my start, but for how much I learned from him.”
After leading the Hawks to Catholic Class B state title in 2012 and '13, the Hawks reached the very top of the mountain this season by not only winning the Catholic Class A title but also capturing the Federation state crown.
McDermott helped Catalano for a couple of seasons before taking the head coaching job at Nardin Academy (1991-97). After exiting Nardin, McDermott would return to O'Hara in 1998 where he remained until his retirement.
The state of Lady Hawks in the late 1990s was a far cry from the state powerhouse they are now. Junior varsity only that first season, it would be a year before they had enough girls for a full varsity squad and even longer before this team would be a legit contender.
But that's what they became under McDermott's watch.
Some observers around WNY have speculated that McDermott is packing it up because the talent well has run dry and that he wanted to go out on top. While lifting a state title plaque with his team after the final game was certainly an ideal way to say goodbye, McDermott explained that he had been mulling over the idea retirement for a while and that this was simply the right time to say goodbye.