Livingston coach Jason Daily celebrated his 300th career victory on May 14, as his Lancers defeated in-town rival, Newark Academy, 6-3, in the quarterfinal round of the Essex County Tournament, in ShangriLa.
The extent of the celebration was in typical Daily fashion. The coach joined his players, who presented Daily with some balloons and other gifts and posed for pictures. Daily smiled, enjoyed the moment with his players, then said, “okay, let’s move on.”
Daily actually had the traditional dark sun glasses off, which was rare, especially on a sunny day, but his assistant coaches, Ian Matten and Dave Mead, kept their glasses on for the photo, in deference to the guy I like to call, the Mayor of ShangriLa.
Daily is 300-115-1 since taking over the Livingston High softball program in 2001. In his 16th season, he’s guided Livingston to three Essex County Tournament championships and two state sectional titles. This year will mark the seventh time in the last eight years Daily has taken the Lancers to the county semifinals.
The truest testimony to Daily’s work as a coach are the compliments he receives from his peers.
Andrea Mondadori, West Essex’s coach, has long admired Daily.
“We’ve had some great games with Jason’s teams,” said Mondadori, who won her 200th career game earlier this season. “Jason is all about class. I love playing against Livingston, because we have to be at our best to beat them, and they’ve taken it to us, a lot, as well. Whether he wins, or I win, shaking hands with him after a game is what it’s all about. He’s the best.”
Mondadori’s assistant coach, Jason Ahmed, has long praised Daily.
“As far as I’m concerned, he’s one of the best, if not the best coach in these parts,” said Ahmed. “Jason does it right, all the time. Any time we play them, we know we’ll have an intense game.”
Montclair coach Phil Delgado has considered Daily a mentor. Ironically, Delgado’s Mounties will face Livingston in the ECT semifinal, on May 20.
“There’s no one better than Jason,” said Delgado. “He’s taught me so much over the years about coaching, preparation and pride. I have the highest regard for his coaching style and his integrity. It will be an honor to play his team in the semifinals. We haven’t beaten them yet, since I’ve been coach here, and I know we’ll have a great game against Livingston on Friday.”
Daily credits his assistants coaches, Mead and Matten for the milestone win.
“They’ve been with me for so long, and I wouldn’t be successful without them,” said Daily. “Ian and Dave are great guys and invaluable to this program.”
Daily was proud of his team’s efforts in today’s win over Newark Academy.
“(Newark Academy head coach) Sergio (Rodriguez) has a great group of kids on that team,” said Daily. “It was a good win today. Our kids are excited about the chance of playing at Ivy Hill Park on Friday. That’s always a special place.”
Daily’s Lancers will take on Delgado’s Mounties on Friday while West Essex will play Cedar Grove in the other semifinal. The championship game is slated for May 21, also at Ivy Hill Park.
Daily was most excited, after watching his team play, to spend time with his teenage children, something he cherishes, especially on the weekends. He’s also a doting son to his mother, Marguerite Daily, whom he’s often referred to as the rock of his family.
Jason Daily. A proud father, loving son, cherished brother, good friend, and great coach. Congratulations on #300 !