Did you know that Canadians play basketball? Yeah, and they are pretty damn good at it (a tip of the hat to you, Mr. Steve Nash). Anyway, the Algonquin Thunder, an Ontario university basketball team that often places in the top five of the 22 teams in their league, has a new member. He’s 6-foot-8, he’s almost 40, and he’s a total boss. His name is Dan Stoddard.
Trevor Costello, coach of the Algonquin Thunder, found his unlikely rookie player over the summer while Costello was refereeing an alumni basketball tournament at a local high school in Ottawa Valley. Stoddard plays the event every year to show off his old-man skills. This year, Stoddard murdered, draining threes like he was a Canadian Steve Nash. (Managing Editor's note: We realize we've mentioned Nash twice and that there are other fine Canadian basketball players, but c'mon...Nash was MONEY.)
In an offhand comment, Costello remarked that Stoddard could play for him, not entirely believing that Stoddard, a middle-age man with a full-time job and two teenage kids, would actually be interested. “I was serious but I was joking a little bit,” Costello said. Stoddard, on the other hand, was not joking.
Dan Stoddard had always dreamed of playing professional basketball, but it never worked out. Nearly twenty years previous Stoddard lost his place at college because of failing grades. Stoddard then married early and became a parent at 20. But having children motivated him, and Stoddard began working as many odd jobs as he could to make money, before becoming a full-time bus driver.
But this summer Stoddard saw a chance to achieve a long-lost dream, and he was accepted into Algonquin’s online accounting program. So he went to the gym every day, refusing to leave the treadmill, lifting weights, and playing hours of basketball. He ate healthy food. By the time tryouts happened in August, Stoddard had lost 70 pounds, and he made the team.
The Rules Say So
Stoddard can play on the college’s basketball team because the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association doesn’t have an upper age limit for players. Actually, the NCAA doesn’t have an upper age limit either. So throw grandpa in there. He’ll be fine.
I Get Views, Bro
However this story isn’t the first time that Stoddard has gone viral. Once while driving his bus at 1 a.m., Stoddard noticed a woman crying nearby. I know, sounds normal, right? But not to Stoddard, so he stopped the bus and talked to the woman, who ended up being a victim of domestic abuse. Stoddard stayed with her until the police arrived. A student riding the bus (who apparently wasn’t inconvenienced at all) took a picture and wrote a complimentary Facebook post, which quickly became popular.
Dan Stoddard now plays basketball on a college team, which means a hefty time commitment to practice and traveling. But he also has a full class load and works at least four days per week driving a bus, which amounts to 40+ hours per week by itself. Also he still has two kids and a wife. So whoever you are, reading this article, get off your butt and try out for a college basketball team.
Ugh, My Kids Are Here
But Stoddard has the support of his family to chase his dreams. Especially his daughter, Kailah, who created an Instagram account for her hoop-slinging father, which she named “oldmandan24.” The family cheer Stoddard on at home games with a sign reading "GO #oldmandan GO!" My family doesn’t do that for me. That’s probably because I’m 23 and don’t have children. But still.
Stoddard aspires to become a professional accountant with his new degree. He studies during breaks at work and oftentimes while sitting in his pickup truck, within the WiFi range of a nearby Tim Horton’s. If you needed proof that this story is about a man in Canada, there you go. Maple Syrup.