FALLSBURG – In her third year as the Fallsburg Track and Field head coach, Danielle Halikias and the Lady Comets finished first in the OCIAA Division V Championship. The Boys finished second in …
FALLSBURG – In her third year as the Fallsburg Track and Field head coach, Danielle Halikias and the Lady Comets finished first in the OCIAA Division V Championship. The Boys finished second in Division V. During her tenure, Halikias has built the program from 10-15 athletes to around 60 by sharing her infectious enthusiasm with the students. Danielle Halikias is earning the 2023 Coach of the Winter designation not only for her team’s success, but for her success in building the program.
Danielle attended SUNY New Paltz, which is when she began student teaching at Fallsburg. Halikias got her start teaching in 2017, and by 2018 her coaching career began first as an assistant before taking over the program in 2020.
Before she became head coach, Fallsburg struggled to have a full, complete team.
“I think there was a lot of misinformation about track,” Halikias recalled. “I began advertising the program and trying to show that it involved more than just running or being a specific type of athlete to succeed.”
Halikias, who teaches 9th grade at Fallsburg, was able to connect with incoming freshman and began generating interest around the track and field program.
Danielle began running and competing in middle school, became more serious about it in high school and was able to compete at the collegiate level through SUNY New Paltz. Being a former athlete, and continuing to run in local races, helps Danielle to relate to her team as more than just a coach.
“I believe there are benefits to having athletics in school,” Halikias explained. “I’m a bit biased towards track and cross country, but they’re all important.”
While achieving athletic goals and earning medals and trophies is great, Danielle’s focus lies more on the personal growth of her student athletes.
“The goal is to have athletes leave the program as better people,” Halikias said. “We focus on respectful relationships, strong team dynamics, attitude and atmosphere.”
Although many of the events in track and field are individual, Halikias insists that a strong team mentality is a key to success in the sport. Despite the need for a team mentality, setting individual goals is another key to Danielle’s coaching strategy.
“Track is a flexible sport, and everyone can have different goals,” she explained. “Working with the kids to set goals and then set checkpoints for those goals while believing in them and being a role model helps them to believe in their goals as well.”
For Halikias, her favorite moments of coaching are when an athlete is surprised by their results.
“When they finally see what I see, and they react to a good performance it’s such a great feeling,” Danielle explained.
The Fallsburg girls won their Division V Championship on January 21, with the boys following up with a second place finish of their own.
“I told the team that if we wanted to put Fallsburg on the map, we have to start now. All that hard work, stress, dedication and sacrifice paid off. That was the best moment, not just for me but for them as well.”
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