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Dan Kubik, 22, former University at Buffalo and Orchard Park High School football player, dies

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UB football practice

UB's Dan Kubik during practice.

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As a member of the University at Buffalo football team, Evin Ksiezarczyk found a sounding board in teammate Dan Kubik. If Ksiezarczyk had a bad day of practice, Kubik found the words to encourage his teammate. If Kubik had a bad day, Ksiezarczyk offered his teammate a similar perspective.

That grew into a friendship with Kubik, an offensive lineman who was two years younger than Ksiezarczyk.

“That’s something I took and looked at, after I left UB,” said Ksiezarczyk, a UB graduate from West Seneca, who enters his third season of playing professional football. “I thought, 'This dude didn’t play much, but he worked his butt off.' He did his best every day and always tried to get better.”

Kubik took that optimistic outlook into an event that changed his life after he was diagnosed with Stage 4 appendix cancer in the fall of 2020. As he fought cancer, he went to college. He rooted for the Buffalo Bills and for UB. He proposed to his fiancée. He earned his college degree in nuclear medicine technology in May. 

Kubik died Wednesday at age 22. UB confirmed Kubik’s death with a social media post Friday. An official cause of death was not given.

“We are deeply saddened to learn the passing of Dan Kubik,” the UB athletic department wrote. “Our sincere condolences to his family, friends and teammates.”

Tributes to Kubik, a 2017 Orchard Park High School graduate, from former UB teammates and high school and college classmates flooded social media on Thursday and Friday.

“Daniel was the kindest and most generous person I have ever met in my life,” Kubik’s fiancée, Megan Reilly, wrote in an Instagram post. “The love he had for life and those around him radiated through everybody. His silly jokes, smile, laughter and love will be missed forever. I know I will always have a guardian angel watching down on me. He was the strongest person I know and has fought like hell these last 2 years without ever complaining. Thank you for the best 6 years of my life. I would have chosen this life for you a million times over just for the memories we have made together.”

Kubik was a first-team All-Western New York selection in football by The Buffalo News in 2016, his senior year at Orchard Park. Kubik joined UB’s football team in the fall of 2017, and played in two games in three seasons with the Bulls.

Craig Dana, who was an assistant football coach for the Quakers when Kubik played at Orchard Park, remembers Kubik as more than a football player.

He recalled Kubik as someone who showed up to multiple football practices in one day, and as someone who embraced his role as Lurch in the school's production of "The Addams Family."

"Anybody that knew Danny or was a teammate of his, they understood the love he gave for his teammates," said Dana, who was Orchard Park's head football coach for the last four seasons before resigning in March after 22 seasons with the program. "He loved playing and he loved everything he did. He was a stud for us on the football team. He would go to a modified football workout, then to a JV workout and then to a varsity workout, to help the younger kids and to get his own workout in.

"For a guy like Danny, to have played with him and for us who got to coach him, it was a blessing for us."

During the 2021 spring football season, Dana said Orchard Park organized a fundraising event for Roswell Park, in honor of Kubik, and was joined by Lancaster's football program for the event. 

"He stayed in touch with Orchard Park football and when he went to UB, he was still doing things, locally," Dana said. "My son came home from the middle school in West Seneca and talked about a big kid from UB who came to their school, and it was Danny. He was doing those things at UB and was still involved.

"Danny, really, was just an unbelievable kid who wanted to give back and be involved in everything.”

Ksiezarczyk said Kubik maintained a positive attitude during the course of what became the last months of his life.

“For the position he was in, I thought he handled it very well,” Ksiezarczyk said. “It’s cancer. No one wants cancer. If you get told you have cancer, you think you’re saying goodbyes to everyone. But he did not take that approach to it. He lived his life to the best he could. That shows what kind of person he was. He wanted to be his true self, even while going through that.”

Kubik is survived by his parents, Donald and Francine, and his sisters, Sarah and Kelly.  

Visitation will be held between 4 and 8 p.m. Tuesday at F.E. Brown Sons Funeral Home in Orchard Park. A Mass of Christian Burial is scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday at St. Bernadette Church in Orchard Park.

Memorials may be made to the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation.


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College/high school sports enterprise reporter

I'm a college/high school sports enterprise reporter at The Buffalo News. I've worked in sports journalism since 1997 and I have covered everything from college football to the Stanley Cup playoffs, high school sports and the NCAA Tournament.

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The University at Buffalo football team gained its first commitment for the incoming 2023 freshman class as Jackson Conners-McCarthy announced Thursday night on social media that he intends to join the Bulls.

2016 All-Western New York football team FIRST TEAM Offense Pos.    Player            School           Ht.      Wt.     Yr. QB      Eric Bartnik   Cheektowaga           5-11   170     12 RB       Brad Benson  Maple Grove          5-8      175     12 RB       Alton Ingram            Dunkirk          6-0      182     12 RB       Isaiah McDuffie       Bennett         6-2      209     12 WR     L.G. Castillo  Lancaster      6-3      225     12 WR     Stephan Parker        Cheektowaga           6-3      205     12 OL      

On a night in which a brawl led to the suspension of one football game in the area, Orchard Park and Bennett engaged in quite the battle of their own. Of course, it was one of wills with the physical play occurring in the trenches – not after the whistle. None of the estimated 1,500 left the stands either,

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