When principal Brent Daniels hit Piedmont with the start of the year, he brought prior experience in administration and leadership to a school that had experienced two different principals in the past three years. With his mild-mannered temperament and care for the atmosphere around him, the soft spoken Daniels grew on both students and staff.
When Daniels hit the basketball court in April during ASB’s March Madness three on three tournament, Daniels brought game.
“I just thought it would be fun. I’m older, and I’m not in real basketball shape,” Daniels said. “I just wanted a chance to play and interact with the students.”
What Daniels was concealing though, is a lifetime full of basketball experience from playing in high school and collegiate level to coaching throughout the Bay Area.
“I played at El Cerrito High School back in the 80’s, and started as a junior and senior,” Daniels said. “One year, we actually finished 2nd in league. I was kind of known as a team shooter.”
While Daniels’ high school days are over, the 45 year-old still shoots like he says he did, as he scored in each of the games during the tournament, from behind the arc to the paint. According to Daniels, this talent developed even younger than high school, with his father having a large influence on his athletic life.
“I was exposed at a young age, my dad was also a basketball coach in the early 70’s and 80’s, and I grew up around him and basketball,” Daniels said. “In 4th grade, I started going to basketball camps, and just kept playing.”
Like his father, Daniels himself ended up coaching as well, after playing club basketball at UC Berkeley, where he played against other Division III teams and local community colleges.
“I actually tried to walk on to the official men’s basketball team, but I got cut,” Daniels said.
After college, Daniels coached boy’s high school basketball for a total of 7 years, at schools such as Pinole Valley, Castro Valley, and finally his alma-mater, El Cerrito High School.
As Daniels got into school administration, he was unable to coach, but still made an effort to keep his skills on the court up to par.
“I would always try to shoot around and play. A couple of years ago I would go play early in the morning about three days a week. Now it’s a time issue,” Daniels said.
However, according to Daniels, he hopes to play more, and sees activities such as ASB’s tournament a perfect way to do just that.
“I’m all for activities that allow staff and students to play together,” Daniels said.
And Daniels was not alone in his on court dominance. Science teacher John Savage played by his side along with social studies teacher Ken Brown. The three, coined “The Old Guys”, won their first three games then lost in the semifinals.
“I was really surprised at how athletic [Daniels] was. When you see someone in a suit and tie everyday you don’t really expect other talents out of them,” Savage said. “[Mr. Daniels] is a baller.”
Fellow staff were not the only ones admiring Daniels skills though, students also did. ASB member senior Russell Jang, who helped with the conception of tournament, expected talent from Principal Daniels as well.
“I had heard that he played some in college, and it was really cool to see him perform on the court,” Jang said.
In the end, Daniels said that events such as the one Jang help coordinate should continue to cultivate interactions between staff and students and promote activeness.
“I’m hitting 46, and any kind of physical activity is great to have a balance,” Daniels said, “I would do it next year.”
Whether playing, or coaching, or just shooting around, Daniels still retains a level of humility many skilled athletes have.
“I got lucky on a couple shots,” Daniels said with a grin. “The students were taking it easy on me.”