Former Flyer balancing being a coach and dad

Damon Goodwin enjoying his son Dane’s senior season at Notre Dame while coaching at Capital

COLUMBUS -- Speaking at his office at Capital University on Nov. 18, Damon Goodwin was preparing for a big weekend. His men’s basketball team had a game Saturday in Kalamazoo, Mich., as it tried to build on a 3-1 start, and the following day he planned to travel to Las Vegas, Nev., for the first time in his life to see his son Dane play with Notre Dame in the Maui Invitational. The whole family planned to be there, including his wife Danielle and son Grant, 31, and daughter Addison, 20.

For the second year in a row, the Maui Invitational took place not in Hawaii but in the continental 48 states because of the pandemic. It was played in Asheville, N.C., in 2020.

Goodwin, the former Dayton Flyers guard who ranks 35th in school history in scoring (1,191 points), will try to attend as many games in Dane’s senior season as he can while coaching the Crusaders. It’s been a balancing act for four seasons now.

“I think I’ve done a pretty good job of that,” Goodwin said. “My wife goes to about every game. I will make maybe half of Dane’s games. Being in control of the schedule helps.”

Goodwin has coached Capital since the 1994-95 season. He began the season with a career record of 406-271. This season, he has worked with fellow coaches to move a few games around to make it easier for him to drive to South Bend or see a road game.

“Our conference coaches have been really good,” Goodwin said. “We usually play on Saturdays and Wednesdays. Two or three of them are OK with us playing on a Tuesday instead of a Wednesday so I can go catch a game, and one guy is going to play me on a Friday night instead of a Saturday. So I can go to see Kentucky play at Notre Dame on a Saturday afternoon. It’s pretty neat. Those guys understand.”

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There is precedence for this within the Ohio Athletic Conference. Goodwin said Jim Burson, the former Muskingum University coach, tried to do the same thing when his son Jay played at Ohio State from 1986-89.

“I’ve told our guys, ‘Hey, if you’re in the same situation in five years, or whatever, I’ll do whatever you want,’” Goodwin said. “Hopefully, I’m in that situation. I’m a coach who once we get in the season, I’d rather play than practice. I think at a certain point you get into January and February and practice is kind of maintenance because you’re not going to change a whole lot of stuff at that time. You may just change how you guard a screen or little things, but it’s not like you’re putting two and a half hours into practice. It’s more about being mentally and physically ready.”

Goodwin has a younger team than most in Division III because none of his seniors from the 2020-21 season decided to take advantage of the extra year of eligibility given to them by the NCAA during the pandemic and return this season. They all graduated and had job offers and didn’t want to postpone entering the workforce.

Those seniors didn’t get to experience a true senior season. Capital finished 4-4 in an eight-game season that took place in January and February. It played only fellow OAC schools. There was no NCAA tournament for Division III schools.

“We got paused by COVID three times,” Goodwin said. “It was really kind of a downer.”

Capital’s roster featured Carter Combs, the OAC Freshman of the Year last season, but he suffered a season-ending knee injury before this season.

Credit: Robert Franklin

Credit: Robert Franklin

As for Goodwin’s son, Dane, a 6-6 guard from Upper Arlington, he entered the Maui Invitational with 896 points in his career. He averaged a career-best 15.0 points in Notre Dame’s first two games.

“I’m very proud of him,” Damon said. “He’s going to do well. He’s majoring in management consulting, but he wants to work in wealth management. He was off for three weeks this summer, and he had an internship in Atlanta with a wealth management firm, and they pretty much told him if you want a job, it’s yours. They’ve come up to watch him play. It’s kind of unique thing. He’s got to decide whether to play the fifth year. I know that Mike (Brey) has asked him to play. He will graduate this summer. I think he’s just going to kind of see what happens. He’s got a lot of options. He could play someplace after college. I don’t know. He’s a 21-year-old. I’ll be the last person to know, to be honest. It’s been fun. I’ve enjoyed the experience of being a father and watching him.”

Don Donoher, Dayton’s winningest coach and Damon’s former coach, is one of Dane’s fans. Damon said Don watches Dane on TV. Damon attended the reunion of Donoher-era players in Dayton in October and said he has lunch with his former coach two or three times a year.

Notre Dame was a big rival of Dayton’s when Damon was in college, but Damon grew up rooting for Notre Dame before going to Dayton, so it hasn’t been a big adjustment.

“When Dane was small, we had Notre Dame, the ND, painted on his wall,” Goodwin said. “He grew up a Notre Dame fan. It’s unique from that perspective.”

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