By Terry Dean
Dan Kane knows Oak Park's Ascension School very well. You could say it runs in the family.
"The school is celebrating its centennial, and I believe I've had a family member as a student there every decade since it's opened," said Kane, 28, who was recently hired as the school's athletic director.
Kane himself was a student there from preschool through eighth-grade. He graduated from Oak Park and River Forest High School. Kane's parents, grandparents, an aunt, as well as three younger siblings — among other relatives — all attended Ascension School. Since 2008, Kane has run Oak Park's Legacy Sports Camp, which he co-founded with childhood friend Caleb Fields — another Ascension grad. Legacy runs youth sports camps in the area, including at Ascension.
Then Kane talked with the school's principal about the athletic director's job. His official start date was the first of August and he's been getting acquainted with staff, though he's familiar from his student days.
"That'll be an interesting adjustment," he said. "I have a few teachers who are still there, so it'll be a little different having them as co-workers. I'll have to get used to that."
Since his camp kids all call him Dan, he said he'll have to get used to students calling him "Mr. Kane."
The Oak Park native has seen his camp kids come back to work as volunteers for Legacy. The program has 15 paid, part-time workers this summer and served about 200 kids.
He'd like to add more camps to serve more kids, he said. And while he enjoys what he's doing, his initial career path did not focus on sports.
Kane studied broadcasting at OPRF and in college and was looking to enter the field after graduating.
"It was a real tough job market in the broadcast industry around that time," he recalled.
He's hosted some local public access shows since graduating and can also be seen in some commercials on VOP Ch. 6. Kane plans to remain with Legacy while serving as Ascension's AD.
The school is part of the Classic Catholic School League, 12 teams in all, including St. Edmund, St. Giles and St. Luke. The league features cross country, volleyball, soccer and basketball.
Kane said he felt a sense of loyalty in taking the AD job, a desire to give back to the school and kids. His family's Oak Park roots obviously run deep. But he noted his mother attended OPRF while his dad went to Fenwick.
"We have to get along so we have to pick our battles," he joked. "The battle of the schools isn't real in our family. There'll be a comment or jab here and there but nothing too bad."