By Brittanie Richardson, Franchise Sports Member, and a Florida A&M Broadcast Journalism Student.
Tallahassee, FLA. – Bruce Daniels’ passion for basketball began at an early age. His dream was to become a basketball coach and, it wasn’t long before his dream became reality.
Daniels originally wanted to be a professional football player. Once he realized that he was not as tall or big as he wanted to be, he set his sights of other opportunities.
Daniels has been coaching boys and girls basketball for over 20 years and is viewed as a father figure to many of his players.
“I love my job,” said Daniels. “Coaching basketball is something I’ve always been passionate about.”
He founded two AAU basketball teams, the Tallahassee Spurs and the Tallahassee Bulls. These teams are for boys between the ages of 7 and 18.
Daniels is currently in his fifth year as the head girls’ basketball coach for Leon High School. He originally wanted to coach boys, but he saw girls as a better fit.
“Girls are easier to coach because they listen and really pay attention to details. Boys try to play like their idol instead of playing their game,” said Daniels.
Bruce Edward Daniels is a native of Buffalo, N.Y. He is the son of Joe and Elwillie Daniels and is the second oldest of four children.
It was in Tuskegee, Ala., where Daniels met his wife, Rhonda Daniels, while attending graduate school at Tuskegee University. The couple quickly hit it off and after two years decided to get married.
They have been married for 21 years and have three children together. B.J. or Bruce Jr. is 21 years old, Laurel is 18 and Eleana is 14. B.J. is a senior quarterback at the University of South Florida.
“To me Bruce is the perfect father,” said Rhonda Daniels. “He is really involved in our kids’ lives and he’s extra sensitive with the girls.”
She continued, “Even though we’re opposites, we really complement each other. We work well together and we try to be the best role models we can for our children.”
After finishing graduate school, Daniels moved to Tallahassee after receiving a job offer at Florida State University to work in the Office of Minority Affairs. After working at FSU for 10 years, Daniels landed a job at Sabal Palm Elementary School. He worked there as a guidance counselor for a few years.
Daniels left Sabal Palm and got a job as a guidance counselor at Riley Elementary school. He later left Riley and returned to FSU and worked there for another 10 years. It was in his last year of working at FSU that Daniels landed a job as the girls head basketball coach at Leon High School.
“I heard there was an opening at Leon for the head girls basketball coach position so I decided to apply and I got the job,” said Daniels. “Even though I wanted to coach boys, I’m glad it didn’t work out because I enjoy coaching girls better.”
Two and a half years later, Daniels got hired as the administrative booking coordinator for events at FAMU. He has been working there for almost three years.
Over the years, Daniels has encountered girls from all different backgrounds.
“I coach girls who have babies, who come from broken homes and kids who just have a lot of drama in their lives,” said Daniels. “ I’m comfortable with taking on the father figure role so that I can be there for the girls.”
His goal is to touch the lives of every girl the best way he can. One player Daniels has left a lasting impact on is Leon senior captain and point guard Tori Wilkerson.
“He is a great role model and a great coach,” said Wilkerson. “He has prepared us for the real world, and I will keep in touch with him once I go off to college.”
Wilkerson continued, “I really look up to him.”
Daniels hopes his girls remember what he has taught them.
“From day one I’ve told the girls that basketball is a vehicle that can be used to prepare them for life,” said Daniels.
He wants the girls to be just as successful on the court as they are off the court. Daniels incorporates situations that the girls will be faced with in everyday life into basketball.
“They are required to wear practice and game uniforms just like they might have to in the workforce,” said Daniels. “They must call in if they are going to be late just like you would have to do for a job.”
Daniels continued, “I just try to mirror the same expectations they will face later on in life so they can be prepared.”
As for Daniels’ legacy, he wants to be remembered for being a good person and being a good servant to others.
“My parents always taught me to be kind to people and to help people any way that I could,” said Daniels. “Being helpful is my way of giving back to others and that is something I really enjoy.”