Dale Comey

Year: 1960 - 1963
Position: Guard
Hometown: Waltham, MA

Dale Comey was a Guard for the UConn Huskies from 1960 – 1963. He’s a member of the UConn Basketball All Century Ballot, and as a senior, was a member of the Yankee Conference Championship Team which also went to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament. I spoke with Dale in February 2005, from his home in Florida about his career and reflections of his collegiate and post-collegiate days, both on and off the court.

Dale grew up playing all sports as a youth until the summer between his freshman and sophomore years of high school. Dale and his brother went to what they thought was an all sports camp; basketball, baseball, swimming, but it turned out they focused 99.5% of their time on basketball. It was called All America Camp, and it was run by basketball guru Claire Bee, who was the athletic director at the New York Military Academy. “It was a wonderful place to learn how to play basketball,” Dale said. “I ended up playing basketball twelve hours a day while there. When I went back to Foxboro High School in Massachusetts, I pretty much decided that basketball was going to be the sport I was going to play.”

As a sophomore at Foxboro, Dale played very well, was the leading scorer of the team, and again during the summer went back to All American Camp. New York Military Academy offered Dale a work scholarship to play basketball if he transferred from Foxboro. Foxboro was a small school, and Dale felt like he needed better competition so he accepted the offer. The school provided a great education, and was very disciplined, which helped to prepare him for college. With a work scholarship the athletes worked in the dining hall as waiters for six hours a day, went to school, played sports, and did their military obligations as well. Dale continued attending the All America Camp at New York Military Academy facilities through his sophomore year in college.

When Dale was fourteen years old he had gone to the Boston Garden to see a college basketball game double header. UConn played either Boston College or Holy Cross. “It was just a wonderful run and gun shoot game which I think UConn won 110 to 108, and I said, BOOM!, that’s where I want to go to college because they play my brand of basketball. I was small, fast, a shooter, and I wanted to play on a team that ran and shot. UConn head basketball coach Hugh Greer’s specialty back then was running, and fast breaking, so it seemed to fit what I wanted to do.”

While at New York Military Academy, Dale was the “big fish.” As a senior he averaged over 30 points per game. UConn had sent Nick Rodis (freshman basketball coach at the time), to see Dale play but he went to the wrong place, and never actually saw Dale play, and therefore UConn did not offer him a scholarship. Dale had been recruited by other colleges but he knew he wanted to go to UConn. He decided to go to UConn without a scholarship, and earn one, which he did after his first semester as a freshman.

Dale did not encounter a big transition going from high school to college. “The camp I went to during the summers was just loaded with talent. People that were in college, everybody and their brother came there for a week or two to coach; Adolph Rupp (former Kentucky University head coach), Red Auerbach (former Boston Celtics head coach), people that were premier coaches at the time in addition to people like Lou Carnesecca (former St. John’s University head coach), and others like him were counselors, so the skills you learned were phenomenal, and the brand of basketball there was at the college level. I felt fairly well prepared by the time I got to UConn.”

When Dale arrived at UConn he played on the freshman team (back then you couldn’t play varsity basketball until you were a sophomore). “I was a three-point shooter before they had the three-point line.” As a freshman the team did very well. His sophomore year was the year of the point shaving scandal, an unfortunate thing, but it happened. Dale’s junior year was a rebuilding year, and as a senior the team had a pretty good year. It was also the year Head Coach Hugh Greer died in the middle of the season. The team went on to play in the NCAA tournament when there were only 32 teams selected, but lost by a couple of points in the first round to West Virginia in a game that was played in Philadelphia at the Palestra. “We lost by 3, 4, 5, or 6 points. We should have won. It was a good game for me. It was a good game for the team. We should have won.” Dale was the sixth man kind of player. “It was my job to go in, and shoot, and try to give the team a lift. If I didn’t shoot the coach used to take me out.”

Dale graduated from UConn with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration specializing in Insurance. He went into the service; he was in the Reserved Officers Training Corp (ROTC), and entered the army as a lieutenant. He was stationed in Germany for almost two years. Dale’s first year in Germany he had a good job, and didn’t want to lose the job, however his orders were cut, and he had to play for the army basketball team. “I played for a season. It was fun. We traveled all over Germany playing games. That was really the last organized basketball I played.”

After finishing his service responsibilities, Dale began a career at The Hartford Insurance Group, in Hartford, Connecticut, and played a little basketball in the Hartford Industrial League for a few years. Dale worked for The Hartford, for close to 25 years; he became an actuary, and also got into management in the company before becoming the President of the Property and Casualty Company. Next he went to the parent company of The Hartford Insurance Group, ITT Corporation as an Executive Vice President for six years, and also had involvement with other businesses at ITT. In 1996, Dale retired from ITT but still remains on a few Boards of Directors. While retired, Dale enjoys playing a lot of golf, and traveling between his homes in Florida, Connecticut and Vermont. He said retirement is fantastic.

Dale is a member of the UConn School of Business Hall of fame, and in the late 1990’s was a Red O’Neil Award winner, an award that recognizes UConn athletes who have gone on to achieve success in life after UConn.

Dale’s thoughts on how basketball has changed over the years is that the game is played faster, the players are bigger, and the biggest change is the three-point basket.

Dale said, “Coach Calhoun has done a phenomenal job. He’s done an absolutely phenomenal job. He’s obviously demonstrated his ability to develop players but also to adhere to the team playing concept. He’s just done an excellent phenomenal job, and he’s gotten better with time.”

Regarding this year’s team, Dale thinks they are fantastic athletes. His expectations of them are very high. “I think they are going to do fine this year, and their going to do better next year.”

Dale met his wife, Marilyn, who was a cheerleader, at UConn. They’ve been married for 37 years. Marilyn is a retired social worker. They have three children who were not basketball players, but were ski racers and hockey players. Their first son Adam went to Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, and currently has his own sports management company that creates, manages, and promotes extreme sports events oriented toward skiing and snowboarding in Salt Lake City, Utah. Their daughter, Rachel, went to the University of Vermont, and owns her own clothing company. She designs and manufacturers men’s and women’s clothing in Manhattan, New York. Their youngest son Zachary went to the University of New Hampshire, and works in Stamford, Connecticut as a merging markets bond trader. Zachary is married and has one daughter and another child on the way.

Dale had some very positive things to say about UConn. “I’ve always been an intense UConn fan—forever. I’ve always followed the teams, and how they are doing, watching them all the time. As I look back now it was a fantastic experience. A lot of great people. It was very healthy and educational. UConn was great. Absolutely a good decision to go to UConn.”