`Dancin' Dan' gets down to business on field for Loyola

Greyhounds follow Bauers - and his '80s hair

College Lacrosse

March 31, 2007|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Sun reporter

The Loyola men's lacrosse team senses a long-awaited breakthrough is coming, as it angles for a trip to the NCAA tournament after a five-year absence.

And the Greyhounds figure one of the players leading the charge will be a guy known as much for his long hair, carefree image and passion for older rock and pop music as he is for his hard-nosed, no-nonsense approach on the field.

Senior attackman Dan Bauers is the whole, curious package.

As Loyola's offensive leader with 15 goals, Bauers carries himself with the tough, bulldogging ways that echo his days as a defensive football and hockey player at Oakton (Va.) High School. Nearly a year ago, Bauers insisted on taking the field, then played the entire game against Johns Hopkins - three days after undergoing an emergency appendectomy.

With the helmet and pads off, Bauers is a throwback. He adores the classic rock of the 1970s and '80s, and pays homage to The Band, Pink Floyd and Hall & Oates among others. Around friends, Bauers is easily inspired to break out one of his dance moves, be it in the locker room, at a team party, wherever.

Then, there is the signature unruly hair that screams '80s - at least most of the time. A business major who is about to graduate, Bauers broke down last fall and had it cut short in preparation for an internship that landed him a job at an executive recruiting firm.

"Of all of the threats my parents made when I was little, even more than being grounded, [getting a haircut] is the one that sticks," Bauers said. "I'm growing it out one last time before I cut it for good. I'm not [a grown-up] yet, but it's coming near, and it's coming quick."

His teammates call Bauers "Dancin' Dan," and wonder if he belongs in another time.

But when the free-spirited Bauers flips the switch and takes over a huddle or a practice or a game - as he did with a career-high six goals two weeks ago in a 12-6 win over St. John's - they know who is in charge. It's the co-captain with the nifty, left-handed shot who enjoys throwing around his 5-foot-11, 204-pound frame.

"I think he was born in the wrong generation," said senior attackman Patrick Kennedy, who has lived with Bauers for three years. "He's all about '80s music. He's always laid back. But you still sense a sense of urgency about him. He always gets things done the right way."

Senior attackman Ryan Rabidou added: "He's kind of a free bird. He's got some great dance moves, like the snap kick. He's never uptight. But when we're on the field, he's our most vocal leader, and he puts his words into action."

Bauers, who defends his love for classic rock by saying, "Retro is always in style," jokes about how he failed to inherit a talent for music - he briefly tried the trombone as a kid - that belongs to his mother, Melinda. She is a music teacher who has sung the national anthem before Loyola and Washington Capitals games.

"I didn't get any of her genes. She's really good," Bauers said. "I wish I could say the same for myself, but I'm over it."

Dan is more along the professional lines of his father, Peter, who works for Exxon Mobil. But the son's love for lacrosse is unconditional. Dan burned out on the travel that encompassed playing hockey throughout his youth, and he realized while excelling at linebacker at Oakton that grabbing a stick was his best ticket to a Division I scholarship.

So did Loyola coach Charley Toomey, who convinced Bauers to pick the Greyhounds over Maryland and Navy.

"I remember watching him play football at Oakton. Everybody ran to him in the huddle," Toomey said. "Danny is not the fastest or the most skilled guy out there. But he plays with a hockey mentality. He's not afraid to lean on you and make a tough play.

"He's a grinder who has terrific hands and gets results. He holds guys accountable in practice, gets them to their spots. He's absolutely our offensive leader, and he's had a remarkable two years."

Following a breakout junior year in which he led Loyola in scoring with 22 goals and 33 points, Bauers is determined to finish in style. After three straight, non-winning seasons, the 12th-ranked Greyhounds (4-2) can take a huge step toward the NCAAs with a win over visiting No. 11 Syracuse today.

"It's nice that we've put ourselves in a position to have a shot to go to the postseason," Bauers said of Loyola's four-game winning streak. "At the same time, we realize we really haven't done anything yet."


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