Dan Cole has spent most of his 26 years playing football in the Capital District.
He grew up playing the sport in Colonie. He played it for Bishop Maginn in high school. He played it for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy. And now, he's playing it as the starting quarterback for the Albany Conquest of the Arena Football 2 league.
Not that Cole ever planned it that way.
I didn't think it was going to be (my No. 1 sport) until my senior year of high school, said Cole, who also played basketball and baseball growing up.
Cole, who joined Albany's roster last year, earned the starting role with the Conquest during the team's final two games of the 2007 season. He completed 13 of 20 passes for 131 yards and four touchdowns in his first start, and threw for 160 yards in his second start.
Those efforts were only a sign of things to come for Cole. In Albany's season opener March 29 at Mahoning Valley, he threw for 276 yards and four touchdowns. Better performances followed, as he threw for 281 yards and five touchdowns in the Conquest's home opener against Peoria April 13, and then added a seven-touchdown night two weeks later.
"I think last year helped me very much as a learning experience," said Cole. "Playing helps you on a day-to-day basis."
Cole had some success as Bishop Maginn's quarterback in the late 1990s, but it was at RPI where he blossomed. He set several school passing records including completions (671), yards (8,902) and touchdowns (87).
It was his senior year at RPI that truly defined Cole's career. He threw for 3,679 yards and 40 touchdowns to lead the Red Hawks to the 2003 NCAA Division III semifinals.
"It was a great experience " one I'll always remember and cherish," said Cole. "I was fortunate to have great teammates and a great coaching staff."