Dan Hooper, Sr.

Throughout my life, I have been fortunate to have many mentors and teammates whose guidance and friendship has helped shape my possibilities in both my personal and my professional life. 

I have always lived by the mantra that once I believe in something I will work hard to make it happen.  It is the working together piece that always sparks my interest, curiosity, and is my single motivating factor.  Never, however, does anything I ever "make happen" or set out to attempt, get done by myself.  I could list many, many people right now who helped me along the way, but today I reflect on one very important and special person, Dan Hooper.

In 1994 at a summer basketball camp at St. Mary’s College, I was introduced to Dan.  I was there to “ref some games” - it was not a “camp” for referees as we know them to exist today.  Following a game, when I shook Dan’s hand to meet him, he hired me on the spot to referee for SACO.  So at 24 years old, and someone raised to show gratitude and appreciation, that handshake turned into an immediate and genuine hug.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  He and Jack Ditty laughed when I did that, and Jack hired me too.

Our hearts are made to feel and express unconditional love.  When we lead with our hearts, division disappears and more possibilities generate. In that moment at McKeon pavilion, only possibilities existed. Instantly, I felt we were all in this together. Little did I know then, that the fact that I just loved to referee would garner me support from Dan for the next couple of decades...and then some.   

The type of support that has probably just popped into everyone’s mind's eye is “basketball” support and the “basketball” membership Dan offered me.  

However, the support I felt was not because I had a skillset to referee, it was for the passion and love for this game and for life I have been fortunate to cultivate that Dan offered his support.  That’s who Dan was – it was not just about performance, it was about the path he influenced me, and others, to take and the inspiration he instilled in his methods.

Basketball officiating was the vehicle for the messages Dan was able to deliver about life.  I am sure I am not unique in saying any of this.  Many referees knew Dan on a much deeper level than basketball.  He gave me opportunity all those years ago for the “what we do,” but the real opportunity he offered led to the cultivation of a friendship that was way beyond basketball and it served as an inspiration for me to be the best me I could be. And I am still trying at that!

Dan demonstrated true love for his family – very proud to speak of them at every chance he got and often when we would talk he was on his way to be with them or at a park with his grandkids.

Dan embodied a loving father, a teacher and man committed to society.  

Dan was an excellent business man, as well, and very generous.  Dan lived, his laugh and smile still provide an energy that's undeniable.  

Dan offered unconditional love and respect to all of his SACO and PacWest family members, and to the game of basketball- all he required of anyone was to put the game first. 

It was the game of life, the foundation Dan laid and lived by and the will power to endure and share all this basketball stuff with so many, as one way to express his commitment to excellence in life, that will remain his legacy.

Dan was a humble man.  He was not much for standing in the front of the room to tell you how it was, but demonstrated how he felt it should be by working his influence from the wings.  Even his mantras stood for bolstering someone else’s success always with the game’s success in mind. Operating in the wings to help others take the stage gave meaning to to Dan and he impacted thousands more lives than had he just been in it for him. 

The Zen slogan “Drive all blames into one” is, in my opinion, a philosophy Dan lived expressly.  This message has absolutely nothing to do with blaming complaining - in fact, I never heard Dan “blame” anyone (even in his expression of politics…).  The parallel of this slogan is that Dan's message always had to do with accepting what’s happened and making use of it.  Finding the benefit of the learning in all the craziness that may appear to exist.

Answering these questions (presented in Training in Compassion) is what I set out to do after speaking with Dan last week. 

What to do with his terminal situation?  What to learn from it?  How to make use of this along the path?

This is how I believe Dan would want me to proceed - as he expressed in his Farewell message.  So I answered those questions presented in that Zen teaching for myself, as many others also have answered these and others with regards to Dan’s passing, and my choice is to carry on the legacy he started. 

In life, the concepts of Effort, Enthusiam, Engage and Enforce apply regardless of what one does and more importantly are critical components in creating possibilities of who one could become.  Reporting Jersey Color, #, Consequence…has a message for life just in the creation of positive habits the sequencing represents and the importance of clear communication.  In a life where we really have no control, the message behind both of Dan’s mantras for my path is that these are qualities I can embody, live with and use to direct my actions.  In doing so, life’s experience reveals a joyous path full of living and serving others along their paths. 

Dan, I am grateful for the sometimes 2 hour talks and the visits, I listened and learned.  I will take your legacy along my life’s path.

Dan’s family – thanks for sharing your dad.

His family is honoring Dan with a funeral and celebration of life. Here's the information and they would appreciate an RSVP by clicking below.

Please RSVP here  http://www.evite.com/event/039C47KHTQFNSIWTYEPGSXAQNXRBLY  

Information for Dan's Funeral & Celebration of Life

Sunday, October 23rd:
1pm Funeral: Lakeside Memorial Cemetery |
1201 Forrest Street 
Folsom, CA 95630 

2:30pm Celebration of Life: Lake Natoma Inn
702 Gold Lake Drive Folsom, CA 95630


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