The Gianni Daddi Memorial Scholarship
For decades prior to all the changes introduced by COVID-19, our youngest Mites would practice together every weekend with a dedicated team of volunteer hockey coaches. In the exact spirit that animated the founders of North Park, none of these coaches were paid for their efforts -- and none had children in the program. These special individuals were simply motivated by a love of hockey and the opportunity to share this sport with the children of New York City.
Gianni Daddi was one of these special volunteer coaches. Sadly, Gianni passed away in January 2022 after fighting the after-effects of a stroke several years ago that took him away from his passions of cycling, coaching hockey and working. To honor Gianni, his fellow North Park coaches came together in May 2022 with his family and friends to celebrate his life, announcing a special scholarship to provide financial aid to North Park families in need.
In one of the many tributes that have come in since the memorial gathering, Gianni was described as "a very special person - a loving father, husband, and friend to many" with a "passion for helping and teaching youngsters." At North Park, we are so grateful to Gianni for his long and dedicated service, and we express our thanks to his family and for their generosity and grace.
Gianni's fellow North Park volunteer coaches Earl Rix and Neil Bacon read the following Proclamation at the memorial service:
"North Park Hockey coach Gianni Daddi was our very own hockey 'Renaissance Man.' He skated like the wind, could sharpen a skate, profile it, build all the displays in a hockey store, play, coach and even drive the Zamboni!
In recognition of his generous effective service as a non-parent volunteer coach with our youngest skaters North Park Hockey cares to honor the memory and service of Coach Daddi in two separate ways:
The first is that Gianni will be the second recipient of the 'Andrew Nawn Service Award.' Andrew (who coached with Gianni) dedicated more than twenty years to coaching North Park’s boys and girls. Coach Gianni was not able to coach for us as long as Andrew did, but he nonetheless left an indelible mark on the program.
We think of coach Gianni as someone who always made sure that he had the right tools for a job, paid close attention to detail, gave every task or drill his full un-divided focus, and saw each of them through to completion taking no short-cuts. For both his fellow coaches and the kids we were coaching, he was a leader by example. We imagine that these same qualities contributed to his success as a Master Craftsman at Steinway Piano.
Gianni Daddi was born in Italy and grew up in Hell’s Kitchen. North Park Hockey also grew up in New York City and relies on the expertise and enthusiasm of our volunteers to keep the program humming. We recognize the incredible and unexpected contributions of non-parent coaches with deep hockey backgrounds like coach Gianna. Gianni’s son Bruno was already grown and out of hockey by the time we were lucky enough to find Coach Gianni skating in Bryant Park.
All of Gianni’s fellow 'White Mite' coaches have decided to inaugurate a 'Gianni Daddi Memorial Scholarship' within the North Park program to help local underprivileged boys and girls to participate in the great world of youth hockey that we all love so much, but which is an expensive undertaking for many families without the means to pay for it. This initiative will find enthusiastic support from the parents who aim to multiply the coach’s initial efforts in order to bring more and different boys, girls and families into the program.
The Gianni Daddi Memorial Scholarship will keep the name of our beloved Coach Gianni associated with North Park Hockey and enable another generation of young boys and girls to benefit from Gianni’s generosity of spirit. Here’s to Coach Gianni! "
The attached picture is from Gianni's North Park memorial gathering at ICONYC Brewing in Long Island City this past May 14th with Gianni's grandson Harrison, his daughter Juliana + her husband David, his wife Rozana and his son Bruno. They are holding a picture Gianni's fellow volunteer North Park "Mini-Mites" coaches at Bryant Park, including Mike Bruno, Gianni Daddi, Earl Rix, Brian Herr of USA Hockey, Neil Bacon, Andrew Nawn and Alex Wang. All mobilized in terms of supporting the Gianni Daddi Memorial Scholarship, which can be accessed at https://www.northparkhockey.org/donate.