It took a few years, but family and friends of former Reid Ross High School football coach John Daskal were finally able to celebrate the installation of a permanent sign in his honor outside the football stadium bearing his name.
It was around 2002 that the stadium, at what is now Reid Ross Classical High School, was named in honor of Daskal, the only coach the school ever knew before it closed as a traditional high school in 1984.
When Daskal finally retired in 1991, he had 211 wins, at the time the most of any high school football coach in Cumberland County history.
He was inducted into the Fayetteville Sports Club Hall of Fame in 2006.
High school football has returned to John Daskal Stadium this season as it has become the temporary home of Terry Sanford High School, which ironically was the last school where Daskal was a head coach before he retired from the profession.
Daskal’s daughters, Kim Daskal Lee and Kristina Daskal Magyar, led the push to raise money to get a permanent sign installed.
They held a golf tournament at Gates Four Golf and Country Club in April and had numerous people reach out to make donations toward the project.
A family friend, Dr. Wally Mohammed, took the lead in the construction of the sign.
Mohammed operates a restaurant in Lillington, and he and Daskal became friends when Daskal and his wife Carol first visited the restaurant years ago.
Lee praised the efforts of men who coached and/or played for her father. Among them were Fred McDaniel, Bill Yeager, Billy Starks and Reggie Pinkney.
“Every planning meeting, they were there,’’ she said. “We made so many contacts with people we would not have been able to reach out to. They have gone above and beyond.’’
The ceremony for the sign was held at halftime of a recent Terry Sanford junior varsity football game at Reid Ross.
Lee estimated about 50 alumni of Reid Ross, including some former football players of Daskal, came out for the ceremony. Pinkney, Yeager and Starks were among those attending.
“He treated all the players like sons,’’ said Pinkney, principal at Ramsey Street High School in Fayetteville. “We played so much harder for him, and that was why we were
Yeager, former head coach at Terry Sanford and Gray’s Creek High Schools, works as an assistant coach at Terry Sanford.
“He was just a fine man,’’ Yeager said of Daskal. “He cared about his players while he coached them and after they got through and went on doing what they do in their lives.
“He was the real deal, the whole package.’’
Starks, principal at Pine Forest Middle School, said Daskal was bigger than life and the kind of coach you would run through a brick wall for.
“He was just a good person,’’ Starks said. “He loved us, cared about us and we would do anything for him. He was just a special human being.’’
Pictured: Retired Reid Ross High school football coach John Daskal is joined by men who played and/or coached with him during his career at the ceremony. Pictured from left to right: Current Terry Sanford coach Fred McDaniel, retired Cumberland County Schools student activities director Fred McDaniel, Daskal, current Ramsey Street High School principal Reggie Pinkney, current Terry Sanford assistant coach Bill Yeager and current Pine Forest Middle School principal Billy Starks.