Former Bison Returns to Montana as NCAA D-I Coach - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Former Bison Returns to Montana as NCAA D-I Coach

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Great Falls Native Daron Park was excited to be back in Montana, but his return home was a business trip.

Coach Park, as he's long been known, was accomplishing a first: leading an NCAA program as the head coach in his home state against his Alma Mater MSU and defending Big Sky champions Montana. It's an experience that, even as it was unfolding, he couldn't believe was happening.

"Coach Binford, When I got the job at Fullerton, she reached out and said, 'okay, you're a head coach now. Let's bring you home.'" said Coach Park. "It's been surreal. It's been everything I could have hoped for. To have a chance to bring my team up here show them my home, take them and introduce them to some things that they've never seen before, it's been Magical."

The games were easy to schedule but the moment took years to make. Park was the head coach at Westminster before securing assistant gigs at Utah, Maryland, Louisiana Tech, Cal-Berkeley and USC. Now, 3 years into his first job as a D-I head coach at Cal State Fullerton, he built a talented coaching staff that includes former WNBA player Abi Olajuwon, the daughter of NBA Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon

"It's amazing," says Coach Olajuwon. "When you see his resume, the places that he's coached at, USC, Cal, Maryland….to have the repertoire. He takes the best from different colleges and puts it in and blends it like that. He has so much knowledge and is willing to tell stories."

When he isn't preaching basketball, Coach Park is preaching about Montana. His players and assistant coaches tend to ask questions that are typical from those unfamiliar with the treasure state.

"People ask, do you still ride horses?" says Park. "We talk to them about, no we actually have paved roads and cars and everything. Then the next conversation with our kids was how cold it was going to be."

The Titans certainly got to experience that first hand.

 "It's cold, very cold" says Titans Freshman Guard Michelle Berry. "I'm not used to the cold but it was a big adjustment for the last few days."

"Well he told us we had to eat at Taco Treat which was closed the other day," says Coach Olajuwon. "And then he really sold me on the Hot Springs."

The biggest experience his team got to share with their Coach was how much it meant that his job led him back to Montana.  

"It was actually very touching," says Berry. "He got a little, I don't want say emotional, but you can see it. Like it hit a soft spot when we played. This was a very important trip for him. He always talks about Montana this, Montana that."

The young Titans fell short in both of the games on their road trip. But the losses didn't diminish Coach Park's Titan Pride and Montana Pride.  

"I'm just so proud to be from Montana," says Park. "I work very hard to make sure that I try to do the State proud. Hopefully there's a lot of people out there are proud of what I've done and are hoping to jump on this and blaze their own trail as well."

"Coach Park as an individual, he's a great coach," says Berry. " He's never going to give up. Even in the downfall we're in now, he's not going to give up."


An attribute credited to how he was built, with a work ethic made in Montana.

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