Dan Milio’s journey has taken him from supportive father to college coach.
Dan Milio thought he was just being a good dad.
Milio’s daughters were playing for the Holy Terrors softball team, and like any dad, he’d spend a lot of time hanging around the team, watching and helping out where he could.
“I didn’t know a lot about it, but they needed someone to help out, mostly keep the scorebook and coach when needed,” said Milio, who played soccer at Frankford before graduating in 1995. “I would do a little more, and the next year, I became the head coach because the other coach, Hank Bickel, couldn’t make the games because of his work schedule.”
That was the beginning of a coaching career that continues to blossom.
In June, the former head coach at Little Flower High School and assistant at St. Hubert accepted a job as the assistant coach at Rosemont College under head coach Francine Roseman.
He made contact with her during the Carpenter Cup softball tournament in South Philadelphia. It was the second straight year Milio served as the head coach of the Catholic League team.
“She was there because it’s where the high school players are and we got to talking,” Milio said. “She told me exactly what she wanted from me and I told her exactly what I could do. I know a lot of the girls from coaching in the Catholic League, so that will help.”
Milio didn’t take a typical route to get to the college level. In fact, nothing about his career has been typical.
When he got his first scholastic coaching gig, nobody was more surprised than he was.
“I heard there was an opening, so I decided to apply and see what happens,” Milio said. “I really didn’t think I had a chance at getting it, but I really wanted to do it. It was the best move I ever did because I got it. I was surprised but very happy.
“I was lucky to have great girls there. I also was fortunate to have a great assistant coach, Rick Attwell. He had been a head coach before, so he knew how to coach. He was a mentor and a huge help.”
Not only did Attwell share softball advice with his head coach, but he gave him advice on becoming a better teacher and person.
Coaching can be very emotional, and the rookie head coach struggled with some of the things that go along with coaching. But he had a great guy to show him how to deal with the pressures that go along with it.
“He kept me in check, and I needed that,” Milio said of Attwell. “When I first started, I would just go over everything we did in my head over and over again, especially in tough losses. He did his best to keep me calm, keep me even keeled. He told me when you’re coaching, you should never get too high and never get too low. You just have to keep working to get better and be a leader for your players.”
Attwell was a perfect mentor.
So was Dave Schafer, the coach of St. Hubert.
After leaving Little Flower following the 2016 season, Milio decided to take a job as an assistant with the Bambies. This year, he helped Hubert finish runner-up in the Catholic League and win the 6A city championship. During the run, he soaked up as much information as he could.
In fact, leaving Hubert wasn’t an easy decision, but one Milio did because he felt he was ready to take another step.
“Nobody runs a better program than Dave Schafer, he just does such a great job of getting everything done, getting the players ready and just running a very respectable program,” Milio said. “Dave and the girls really made it tough to leave. He has the respect of the girls, and I’m so happy I had a chance to learn from him before I went to college, because I know I’m a better coach because of him.”
When he’s not coaching, Milio is hanging with the four most important people in his life — his kids.
He coached Paige, 20, when she played at Little Flower. Kaitlyn, 17, is on the St. Hubert cheerleading team, which last year won a national championship. Abigale, 13, and David Levy, 7, are his youngest kids.
Milio knows the job will be tough on an emotional level.
It’s inevitable he’ll square off against players he’s coached in the past, so that won’t be easy.
“I’ve heard from some players who I’ll be playing against,” Milio said. “I told them I’ll know how to pitch them. That will be very difficult because they’re my players, but it will be OK.
“I’m really excited about taking the next step. I’m not sure where it will lead, but it’s something I really want to do. I’m looking forward to it.” ••