CROWLEY — On Friday nights, when the Notre Dame Pioneers are on the football field, the players’ efforts are cheered and revered by thousands in attendance.
Up in the press box, Dan Didier’s efforts as Notre Dame statistician go largely unsung — and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We don’t do it for any recognition,” Didier, 60, said. “It’s a challenge, but it’s fun and the coaches and the media really appreciate it. They’re able to walk off the field with stats in their pocket. I can email the media and print quarterly stats. It’s fun.”
It seems rather commonplace, but Notre Dame’s press box is one of the only press boxes in Louisiana to print out statistics during regular-season games. Ed Perkins, who has been the voice of Notre Dame football for KSIG-FM, 106.7 in Rayne for 18 years, said the Didiers — both Dan and his wife, Jenny — make the trek on the road and keep the stats coming even in most unaccommodating circumstances.
“They’ve been with us everywhere from North DeSoto to Independence and everywhere in between,” Perkins said. “I’ve seen them do stats on a roof, on a porch — just about everywhere.
“Dan is very meticulous with the stats. They’re always timely with it, and they’re among the nicest people you will ever meet.”
Didier, an area resource conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, said he was on the athletic board during Lewis Cook’s first year as Notre Dame coach back in 1997. Didier said Cook asked for volunteers to help with the football team.
No one volunteered.
“The guy who was doing the stats before me needed to spend more time with his family, and his kids had graduated,” Didier said. “He wasn’t going to be around the school much. I stepped up and thought I might be interested.
“Once I did it the first year, it was really enjoyable. I found myself almost getting too involved and too emotional with the game. Watching and doing stats, you see a game from a whole different perspective.”
Of course, every good statistician needs a good spotter. Didier said for the first few years, he had a good set of eyes assisting him in Adrian Leonards. Leonards changed jobs about five years ago and could no longer man the press box. That left an opening, and it was immediately filled by Didier’s wife, Jenny.
“Jenny started helping, and that’s our date night now,” Didier said. “We can spend some time together and sometimes I get behind or if referees don’t quite know what’s going on. She is writing everything down and keeping track so if I get behind, it’s right there for me.”
Didier said he’s always surprised to find out about some of the perennial football powers around the state do not have a statistician, much less quarterly and final print-outs. Didier said some schools even treat them like an unimportant part of the game day process.
“Someone told me that even someone like Acadiana High doesn’t do that,” Didier said. “I guess it’s a testament to Lewis to let me do this. We have a good seat, the only problem I find is when we’re on the road a lot of times we are sitting outside or on top of the press box.
“They look at me like, ‘Oh, you’re a statistician. Big deal.’ That’s fine. That’s not a problem. We’ve learned to adapt. We sit in the stands and do it with fans all around us. The show will go on.”
Didier graduated from Notre Dame, has four kids who have graduated from Notre Dame and his youngest is a sophomore at the school. Jenny Didier volunteers as the Pios’ swim team coach. Didier said Notre Dame is in his blood and he doesn’t see an end to his role as the best high statistician in the state.
“As long as I am physically able to do it, I’ll do it,” Didier said. “As the coaches allow me to do it, I’d like to do it. They double my salary every year, it’s a way for me and Jenny to spend time together and it’s something we really enjoy doing.”