CLARION, Pa. (EYT/D9) — “Coach Dan” will now be “Grand Marshal Dan.”
Dan Shofestall, who spent more than three decades leading Little League teams and the Clarion Area softball program, retired in June. He’s being honored as the honorary Grand Marshal of the Autumn Leaf Festival Parade, which starts at noon on Oct. 30.
(Above, Dan Shofestall hugs one of his Clarion softball players/file photo)
There will also be a reception for Shofestall to recognize what he has meant to all of his Little League and softball players over the years at 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 30 at the Clarion Moose Lodge 101.
Former players, coaches, parents — anyone who wants to honor Shofestall — are encouraged to attend.
A Facebook group has been started for those who are interested in attending can RSVP. That can be found here.
Shofestall’s impact off the field was perhaps greater than what he did on it as a coach.
He compiled a 214-119 record as the Clarion softball coach, leading the Bobcats to four Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference titles and a District 9 crown in 2011, the same year Clarion advanced to the PIAA Class A championship game.
Some of his former players, though, say they will long remember what he meant to them outside of athletics.
“He truly did change my life,” said Jess Funk, who was a sophomore on the 24-1 state runner-up team in 2011. “It wasn’t just one thing. He was a great teacher of the fundamentals and all of that, but just his leadership style, the way he empowered us to not only be great softball players, but great scholars — he was very supportive of all of our endeavors.
“He really went above and beyond to make Clarion softball what it was,” Funk added. “A lot of coaches don’t put in the effort that he does. He really would do anything for his girls.”
He still sends Christmas cards to as many of his former players.
They all share one sentiment: He was more than just a coach. More than just “Coach Dan.”
“I would not be the player or person I am today without his wisdom and guidance — both on and off the field,” said recent Clarion Area graduate Kylee Beers said. “I can truly say he’s the best coach I have ever had in my 13 years of playing softball, from minor league, Little League, senior league, travel ball and high school. I wish him the best of luck in the future. Thanks for what you have done for me, Coach Dan.”