In 2014, Daniel Stark thought he had played his final games for the UNBC Timberwolves. However, after three seasons away, the local product is back on the court, playing his fifth and final season of eligibility for the TWolves. What started as an idea became a reality this summer, all for the love of the game.
“I knew I loved it and I knew I would miss it, but I was ready to move on. It was surprising finding my way back to it, see where it fit in my life, and be able to squeeze it in for one last year. In my first career as a basketball player, it was nice to be the local guy and have that support. To be separated from that and come back, it feels like people still care about what I am doing. It always feels good.”
At 26 years old, Stark is reflective and realistic about life as a university basketball player. He serves as a resource, on and off the court, for his younger teammates.
“Getting life experience and being able to come back and share that with the team; it is easy to get caught up with what is happening on the court, or what is happening in practice. It’s nice to have real-life experience, and be able to talk to some of the younger guys, that there are other things they also need to be paying attention to.”
Stark, who graduated from Kelly Road Secondary, started his Timberwolves career on an incredible note. He was a redshirt member of the 2009-2010 UNBC squad that won the CCAA National Championship. Eight years later, it’s a memory he still carries with him.
“That shaped the rest of my basketball career. Being able to play with amazing leaders like Inderbir Gill, Francis Rowe, and my brother, Dennis Stark. It informed the way I have treated the team ever since, and how I modelled my leadership. Being able to start at a high in UNBC’s history and transition into a new frontier for the team as we joined the CIS. Not a lot of players can ask for those experiences, so I am really lucky to have those.”
Timberwolves head coach Todd Jordan has known Stark since the he would attend UNBC camps that Jordan instructed as a player. He cites Stark’s maturity, both mentally and physically, as significant assets for the TWolves.
“He brings a veteran leadership and is a really positive guy. Dan has man-strength. He sets good screens, and if he gets the ball around the rim, he is good at protecting the ball. He isn’t the biggest leaper in the world, but when shots go up, he can box out and hold his space, which is definitely valuable to us.”
Stark graduated from UNBC in 2014 with a degree in business and marketing. To be eligible to play this season, he is taking three classes focused on English and writing; areas of study that help him while working full-time with popular Prince George video production company, 6ix Sigma.
“We do a lot of writing, and it’s something I do in my own time. I figured I would take English classes that I would be engaged in. You get good at juggling all the basketball commitments and school commitments. Adding work commitments can be a challenge, but luclkily my employers have been so supportive. They like to see me having fun with all the young guys.
After years removed from competitive basketball, Stark has successfully returned and is making a daily impact on the Timberwolves. By year’s end, he will sit top-ten in rebounds, assists, and blocks in UNBC Men’s basketball history. But, as the ultimate “team guy,” Daniel Stark has his eyes set on something bigger this season.
“There are times I do think maybe I am too old for this. But Todd has made me feel like I haven’t missed too many beats, and the team has been really good at including me and not treating me like an old grandpa.”
“It would be cool to be a part of the first National championship team. Then the early CIS teams, and then a part of another playoff run. Hopefully that’s what happens this season.”