Daniels, a 2004 St. Patrick graduate and former standout linebacker who went on to coach the freshman team for two years, was killed in Afghanistan in 2011 while serving with the Marines.
The school plans to honor him on Saturday, before the 11 a.m. Shamrocks varsity football game against Lane Tech, which would have been his 10-year reunion. Daniels' father and stepmother — Gregory and Debi — and a color guard will honor Daniels with a tribute.
"When you're a coach, when players die before you die, that shouldn't happen," said Galante, of Rogers Park. "He had a passion for the game, and he wanted to teach kids how to play the game. He was a guy who served his country and served his high school. He was a people person."
Justin Breen says Saturday's event will honor not only a fallen friend, but a great community member:
Daniels was an all-conference linebacker during his senior season in 2003. He was the freshman team's defensive coordinator in 2008 and 2009, coaching his younger brother Billy at the all-boys Catholic school during the 2008 campaign.
Daniels had not been a member of the Marines for long when he was killed in November 2011, while he was conducting combat operations. The lance corporal and Elmwood Park native was 25 years old.
"It was a real kick in the gut," Galante said.
St. Patrick's director of admissions, Brian O'Connor, who is a year younger than Daniels and played next to him on defense as a free safety during his junior year, organized Saturday's tribute with Daniels' parents — both Lane Tech graduates.
"It would have been his 10-year reunion year. In that way it's a sad thing, but in another way, it's good to remember him and not forget," O'Connor said. "He's a Shamrock. Once a Shamrock, always a Shamrock."
Gregory Daniels, whose family organizes a yearly bags fundraiser at their Elmwood Park bar, On the Rocks, said he and his wife were looking forward to Saturday.
"It's a nice thing," Gregory Daniels said. "Nick loved that school. He loved St. Pat's. That's where he made lifelong friends."
Editor's note: This article should have noted Eva Hawking is Nick Daniels' mother.
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