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March 2020 Update: In his first season as Belmont Abbey's
head coach, Dan Ficke guides the Crusaders to their first
NCAA Division II national tournament birth since 2013.
Day of Giving
September 11, 2020
Big Bill's New
County Line and Holly
From 10 a.m. opening to flexible closing.
ALL proceeds to the JoAnn
B. Ficke Cancer Foundation.
Contributions also can be dropped off or made without going to the
restaurant. See below.
Big Bill with Rocky
Honors JoAnn B. Ficke, plus 9/11 victims and responders.
Read JoAnn and Bill's story below.
Here are the figures for 2018.
Dan and Bill Ficke at 2016 Day of Giving. Dan,
the president of the
JoAnn B. Ficke Cancer
Foundation, was a long-time assistant men's
coach at the University of Denver before being named head
coach at Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C., in July 2019.
Denver's own Dan Ficke
named head hoops coach
Ficke at Belmont Abbey
In Dan's first season at Belmont Abbey, he coached the Crusaders
to their first NCAA Division II national tournament berth since
of course, was scrubbed, but the season was an impressive
head-coaching debut for Dan.
The Ficke family
has gone full circle at Belmont Abbey College,
just west of Charlotte.
The Crusaders -- a Division II program playing
in the Conference
Carolinas -- named Denver's own Dan Ficke, 32, their new head men's
basketball coach, succeeding Billy Taylor, who
left to become an
assistant coach at Iowa.
Bill Ficke, proprietor of Big Bill's New York Pizza
in Centennial, is an iconic figure in the Colorado sports community --
and beyond. Bill
knows everyone and everyone knows Bill. And it's
not only because he's a former Nuggets assistant coach. His 9/11
"Day of Giving" at
Big Bill's, with free food for voluntary contribiutions
to the JoAnn B. Ficke Cancer Foundation, annually raises six figures
Colorado cancer organizations and his heart is huge.
In 2007, JoAnn and Bill's son, Dan, then playing for Loyola (Maryland),
delivered his mom's eulogy and there wasn't a dry eye in the church.
We felt, and still feel, as if we have watched Dan grow up, including
at Regis Jesuit and Loyola and
So now we have all the more reason to be proud.
Dan's hiring at Belmont Abbey hire has been in the loop for several
but Dan arrived at Belmont midweek and the official
announcement came Thursday.
Before his collegiate career
at Loyola, Dan played at Aurora's
Most recently, he has been an assistant for four
seasons at the
University of Denver, under Joe Scott and Rodney Billups.
Prior to DU, Dan worked in the programs at Wake
Big Bill not only played at Belmont Abbey, he played there
under legendary coach Al McGuire, whose first head coaching
job was there
from 1957-64. Bill already was ticketed for fall
induction into the school's Hall of Fame.
So this is a Ficke family return to the school.
to put into words how incredibly blessed I feel to
have that opportunity," Dan told me from Belmont on Saturday.
"My dad is probably, outside
of my wife, my best friend and
he's definitely my role model. I've walked in his very large
footsteps for a very long time. So
to be able to go back there
to the school where he played and has such great memories of,
it means everything for my first
head coaching position to be
at the place where he played college basketball. It seems like
a divine intervention to be there."
Bill was ecstatic.
"Next to the day I got married to my wonderful wife, and
then when my son was born, and then when I saw him become a
father, I'd have to say
it's all right up there," Bill told me. "Whoever
thought 57 years later, there'd be a Ficke with
the basketball team at
Belmont Abbey? . . . The best thing that happened to Dan was his first
job was with Jeff Bzdelik at Wake Forest, and Jeff laid the foundation
for his work ethic and knowledge of basketball.
He really worked with
Dan and helped him grow."
Dan also is the president
of the JoAnn B. Ficke Cancer Foundation.
The Day of Giving, a salute of 9/11 victims and first responders,
JoAnn's 2007 death and subsequent formation of the foundation, and has
$1.2 million overall.
Dan and his wife, Jordan, have 20-month-old twins, William Winslow
and Sloane Smith.
Belmont Abbey athletic director Stephen Miss announced Dan's hiring.
Dan had interviewed for the job when Taylor was hired in 2016, so he
was in the Crusaders' memory
bank when the job opened again.
The Crusaders were 23-8 overall and 14-4 in league play last season,
finishing second to Emmanuel. So the cupboard won't be bare.
what was a thorough and comprehensive national search,
Dan Ficke emerged as the right individual at this
time to lead Belmont
Abbey College's men's basketball program," Miss said. "In addition to
having benefited from playing for and working with many exceptional
coaches, Coach Ficke articulated
repeatedly during the interview process
an appreciation of and conviction in our mission that positions
to form and develop our students as they endeavor individually and
to realize their full potential: body, mind, and soul."
The fact that Dan played both high school and college basketball at
Catholic schools was a plus
for him in the selection process. Dan also
can benefit from Bill's and his own connections in the coaching fraternity,
and in the recruiting
networks. Plus, some of Bill's former teammates
are supporters of the program.
"Back in December of January,
I can't remember when it was, the
president of the university came out and told me they were going to
put me in the Belmont Abbey
Hall of Fame," Bill said. "That's going
to happen on October 12. So I said, 'Great 2019's my year.'"
He laughed and added, "Now
I've been upstaged by my son."
When Dan was playing at Loyola, his teammates labeled frequent
as "Thornton Mellon,'" after the Rodney Dangerfield character
in "Back to School." Ever since, I've pictured
Bill on the Tonight Show
couch, tagging on his tie and lamenting, "I tell 'ya, Johnny, I don't get
no respect. No respect at all."
Bill joked, "I'm going back to school," then added: "No,
I figure about once a month I'll go out and see him
and the grandkids.
During the season, I'll go when there's two or three games in close
proximity and see him coach."
UPDATE: Bill indeed was inducted into the Belmont
of Fame on October 12. Here are pictures
from that occasion.
Alex English, Big Bill, Bobby Jones, Larry Brown, T.R. Dunn
Jordan Ficke, Big Bill, Dan Ficke
Big Bill with his Belmont Abbey teammates
Big Bill with Dan and some of the friends to traveled to Belmont
to see his induction.