As a general rule, Hall of Fame selectors traditionally look to such things as championships won, points scored, most valuable player awards and the like. Often, that is not a bad yardstick in assessing an athlete’s right to receive such exalted acclaim.
But that is not where you will find the credentials of Dan Stavely. Instead, Stavely has made his mark on a different, but very critical level. He has touched and positively influenced the lives of thousands of young men as an assistant college football coach through five decades in Colorado.
As a native of Colorado, Stavely moved from the University of Denver, where he was a champion wrestler and an average football player, into the high school coaching ranks. After stints at Aguilar (1936) and Johnstown (1937-39), Stavely went into the college ranks as an assistant to his alma mater (1940-46), a stint that was interrupted by four years of service in the Air Force.
He served two years as an assistant coach at Eastern Washington, and nine at Washington State before a return to his beloved state of Colorado as a freshman coach under Dallas Ward at the University of Colorado (1958). He spent 1959-62 at Stanford before returning to CU for keeps as its freshman coach for 18 more years, taking on the additional duties of athletic academic advisor and associate athletic director before his “retirement” in 1983.
Typical of the regard in which he is held by his peers, are these thoughts:
Coach Fisher DeBerry of Air Force Academy: “He has been the ideal role model for so many people.”
Dudley “Bo” Mitchell, former CU athlete and FCA leader: “Dan Stavely has done more for the University of Colorado than any other individual involved in the school’s athletic department. He made a choice to remain an assistant to stay closer to the players. He was, and is, like a father to literally thousands of athletes who have come through the CU program.”
Fred Casotti, from his book Football CU Style: “Dan Stavely is a devoted working man’s Christian who applies Christian principles to everything he does. Dan Stavely isn’t an angel. He can get down in the pits and drive a team to excellence as good and tough as any coach…He enjoys an earthy story as well as the next man…When I call Dan Stavely a working man’s Christian, I mean it as the highest compliment I can give him.”
When I call Dan Stavely a working man’s Christian, I mean it as the highest compliment I can give him.