The Dan Mooney Foundation Story
Dan Mooney Foundation’s dream started nearly four decades ago. Around 1965, out in the cold New York fall weather, just shooting baskets just kept warm. I also had my father’s size 11 Chuck Taylor’s converse on. I know your laughing! My parents then moved to the Crown Heights area of Brooklyn, where I played on PS.91 elementary team.
I didn’t play much, considering I was the only 4th-grader on the 6th-grade team. I continue to stay hopeful… every evening shooting outside on the playground until it got freezing cold, in which I convinced the Catholic Church to allow me to use the church’s gym. At the beginning of my 5th-grade year, my parents decided to move to Long Island.
I played on the 8th-grade team because at that time they had no other teams. After so many basketball camps and outdoor basketball playground summers, I had an amazing 8th-grade year, making the CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) which is an all star team representing my Catholic school.
I chose to attend the number #1 basketball High School at the time called St. Agnes. Life circumstances happened at the start of my season. My family could no longer afford the cost of travel, books, etc. I had to transfer to a local public high school called Roosevelt High School at the very beginning of my freshman season.
Although I made the team, I didn’t play very much because they had already had players that were part of their Roosevelt PAL team and Bibby leagues. As a freshman, it was a tough season.
I moved that summer to Freeport, where I played on the JV team as a sophomore, with nearly 8-9 juniors that dropped down from Varsity, a tough senior class. I played summer league and worked on my own all summer to make that Varsity team during my junior year.
I tryout; I didn’t make the team. On the very last day of the tryout, I found out I didn’t make Varsity. The Varsity team again was overloaded with seniors with only a few juniors. I walked home that evening; I cried all the way home.
I remember going to bed with no dinner or TV. The next morning at school, the JV coach invited me to practice with a few other juniors. I was moved up to Varsity during playoff time to, which was traditional. Without hesitating, I went right to work to prepare to make the team my senior year. I rode my bicycle 25-30 miles to Brooklyn to where I started this journey.
I tryout for the all-city team in Brownsville and didn’t make it. But that didn’t stop me. I made the varsity team, where I played a point guard role. During that time, I realize this isn’t going to get me a scholarship to college or university.
So, we are now in the quarterfinals of the Nassau County Playoffs, we became the Cinderella team. I became the player that I always wanted to be. Averaging nearly 15 points a game and 7-assists to go along with it.
I still have the articles; one, in particular, quoted me “It’s Like Being in the Pro’s” written by a Newsday reporter. My dream came true; little old me cheating in height at 5’7 a point guard has made it big.
Shortly after winning the Nassau County, Long Island Championship were state runners-up. I didn’t waste any time that next week, I was on the road visiting colleges and universities around the country.
I remember my mom pawning rings and jewelry so that I can cover some travel expenses. But after weeks of travel, it was apparent that my mom and dad would never get to see me play. Returning home, a friend ask me to attend a field trip to upstate to New Paltz State University. It was nothing less than a miracle I choose New Paltz for my 4-year college experience.
I continue from my High School playoffs days, with amazing basketball playing. All CACC first team, Sports Ambassadors Olympic Team, Scoring 1641 points, Heinz Almeyer recipient (highest achieved award for an athlete), Hall of Fame 96’, recognized by “Street and Smith” the list goes on, but these were the most noted.
But this also met that this could be the end. The 1982 draft did not happen for me, but then Atlanta Hawks invited me to camp, but I opted to go to Europe.
Abruptly I returned to an invite to the Albany Patroons CBA (continental basketball association) inaugural season. Albany Patroons CBA was very close to where I played college, and everyone knew who I was and that I was coming. Nearly seven years had gone by with stints in USBL,CBA and NBA.
Also, several summer Pro leagues throughout the country. Before hanging up my shoes, I have made one final call to the President of the BG Kamp Linfort Basketball club in Germany. I had, once met in 1982. That phone call took me back to Germany; within 13 years, it all came full circle. From hosting my Camps, Clinics, All-Star Games, Commercials, and even sneaker deals.
I had finally gotten the payoff for such a very long journey. So, I made a promise three decades ago to “God” that only he could see and know the journey he has seen me through. I would help, support, train any young men or women following their dream of playing basketball, from High School to College, and the possibility to become a Pro Athlete.