Reporting the news since 1914

The Blue & Gold

Reporting the news since 1914

The Blue & Gold

Reporting the news since 1914

The Blue & Gold

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The Legend of the Light

Coach Dan Perez sends a weekly message of hope to current and past players
A votive candle at Saint Jude the Apostle Catholic Church.

Through life’s ups and downs, there is always light in some shape or form that finds its way into one’s life—if they let it.

For many Marist students, this light is brought by beloved coach and teacher Dan Perez, who has certainly made a significant impact on the lives of thousands of Marist students over the years.

Coach Perez strongly believes in the mission of Marist School, educating the whole person in the image of Christ. To share his faith and encourage Marist students, Coach Perez has created a tradition providing inspiration, hope, and support.

It all began two years ago in the winter of 2021 with his 8th grade girls basketball team. The team was struggling with their performance and needed some motivation.

Thinking how to best serve the team, Coach Perez told the girls he had a surprise for them that would cheer them up. He promised that he would announce the surprise on their team chat at nine o’clock that Thursday night.

Coach Dan Perez enjoys his 35th year at Marist, where he makes it a point to include his current and former players in his weekly devotion.

The girls, waiting in suspense, shared their many predictions about what the surprise might be. Thoughts of scrimmaging the boys, receiving a new player, and hiring a new coach ran through their heads. 

In the meantime, Coach Perez attended his weekly Thursday night adoration at Saint Jude the Apostle Catholic Church. He lit a candle for the team and said many prayers for the girls. After lighting the candle, Coach Perez took a picture of it.

He went back home and took his dog for a walk. He had forgotten, however, that he was supposed to send the surprise to the team. By 9:01, his phone was blowing up with texts from all the girls: “Where is it, Coach? Where is it?”

Coach Perez finally sent the image of the candle along with an inspirational message but not until 9:01, which is how the team gained the name Team 901.

Initially, the girls were disappointed and hesitant. Some even responded by saying, “That’s it!” not expecting the surprise to be a simple image of a candle. The team had not realized yet how powerful this candle was. The whole incident posed a challenge for Coach Perez, a challenge to continue his mission to use basketball to increase the girls’ faith.

Coach Perez continued to send an image of the adoration candle each Thursday night. Eventually, he began to receive positive feedback and stories about how the candle was making a difference.

The girls realized the significance of the candle and became appreciative of Coach Perez’s gesture. The team started to win more basketball games and suspected their success had something to do with the candle and their faith. 

Keeping the tradition going, Coach Perez began to send images of candles to his new 8th grade basketball team the following year.

To this day, Coach Perez still sends out a picture of a candle and heartfelt message to his current and past teams every Thursday night. The purpose of this tradition is to reach out to young people.

Each week the candle and message is different, providing inspiration in a unique and special way to each recipient. Coach Perez takes pride in developing the whole child and strives to bring hope in a challenging world.

Dan Perez is a remarkable coach and teacher, one who uses his faith to encourage and build up others. He plans to never stop this beautiful tradition.

Our school is truly thankful to have a role model like Coach Perez to share the light and brighten others’ lives.

As Coach Perez shared in one of his recent messages, “The flame will reach above any difficulties life brings your way. Stay strong, keep the faith, and remember: God is great.”

About the Contributor
Kate Owens
Kate Owens, Staff Writer
Kate Owens, a new member of the The Blue & Gold staff, is excited to share her love of writing with Marist. She is organized, hard working, and kind to others. In her free time, Kate enjoys spending time with family and friends, drawing, baking, and traveling. She is a student council representative, runs cross country, and plays soccer and basketball. In the future, Kate sees herself working either in event planning or marketing.