Notre Dame linebacker earns prestigious honor for athletics, academics
By Rich Fisher | Correspondent
For a guy who did not begin his high school career at Notre Dame, Dan Dargan certainly left a lasting impression on the Lawrenceville school – in the classroom and on the athletic field.
Dargan was recently one of 22 central New Jersey football players honored at the 56th annual George Wah Scholar-Leader-Athlete awards dinner. The event was hosted by the Delaware Valley Chapter of the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame, and Dargan received a $1,000 scholarship as an honoree.
“To be elected as a Scholar-Leader-Athlete is to see all my hard work that I’ve put in these past four years pay off,” said the Chesterfield resident, who belongs to St. John the Baptist Parish, Allentown. “It’s very rewarding to see the countless hours spent practicing and studying be recognized.”
Dargan began putting in the work at the Peddie School in Hightstown, but transferred to Notre Dame after his sophomore year. He played linebacker, defensive end and guard for the Irish and was named the team’s Most Valuable Defensive Player last fall. He was also tabbed one of the Top 100 Non-Public players in North/Central Jersey, earning third-team All-Non-Public and second-team All-CVC defensive honors. Dargan also wrestled and plays baseball for the Irish.
“As a transfer student, Dan eagerly awaited through the first four games of his junior season until he was eligible to play; when the day finally came when Dan was able to step on the field, he instantly gave the team an emotional lift,” Irish coach Marc Lordi said. “From that day on, Dan cemented his place as a team leader and eventually earned the title of captain during his senior year. A stalwart at linebacker, offensive line and special teams, Dan barely left the playing field for all 10 of the games during his senior campaign.”
What made Dargan’s emergence as a team leader so impressive is that he did so amongst teammates whom he only had two years to get to know – and vice versa.
“Earning the respect of teammates and coaches is difficult enough during normal circumstances,” Lordi said. “Dan was able to earn this respect from everyone in the program as a transfer. Dan brought his determined work ethic and academic prowess with him and has been progressing in all aspects of life ever since.”
That is especially true in the classroom. Dargan was a member of the National Honor Society as a sophomore and his GPA of over 3.4 has him in the top 10 percent of his class. He is a Spanish tutor and volunteers for Special Olympics, Special Learning Program and Best Buddies. He participates in the Ultimate Frisbee, Grilling and My Brother’s Keeper clubs.
None of that can be accomplished without a fierce desire and the ability to budget one’s time. Dargan was taught at an early age that one activity should never be short-changed over another.
“Balancing two jobs, school and sports isn’t always easy, but if you have the determination and willpower to do it and you desire to succeed, everything gets put into perspective and you just get it done,” he said. “My coaches, throughout all my years in sports, have basically told me the same thing – ‘You can’t expect to give 100 percent effort for some things instead of others. You must give your max effort in everything you do.’ My coaches have always harped on the fact that everything stems from your ability to learn, and if you can’t learn in the classroom, one cannot expect to learn on the field.”
Dargan has done all that, and yet, he takes it even further. The Notre Dame community was hit with a number of sudden, tragic deaths this year that left the student body searching for answers. Through much of that, Dan was the man they were able to lean on.
“Through those adverse conditions, Daniel always demonstrated compassion and leadership, two qualities that will serve him well in the future,” said Sean Clancy, the school’s summer school principal and college counselor. “Daniel leads because the role comes naturally to him, but not all natural leaders put the needs of others first. Daniel has demonstrated in these very trying times that he is always willing to put the other fellow first.”
With graduation just a few months away, Dargan is looking to continue his education and, possibly, his football career in college.
“I plan on majoring in architecture or engineering,” he said. “I planned on playing football, but am undecided as of right now. I was previously committed to the University of Rochester, but have decommitted and am opening up my recruitment.”