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Dana M. Swan II, 1st coach at Haverford College, recalled as pioneer

Monday, 23rd June 2008

Categories Boy's/Men's, College, Features  
 

By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/23/08

The lacrosse world is mourning the loss of Dana M. Swan II, 76, of Haverford, who formed and coached the first men’s lacrosse team at Haverford College.

Mr. Swan, who also served as athletic director and associate director of admissions at Haverford in his 34 years there, died of Lymphoma June 10 at his residence.

Mr. Swan, a standout football, basketball and baseball player at Swarthmore High and Swarthmore College, first played lacrosse with the Philadelphia Lacrosse Club after graduating college.

He soon took a job as an assistant football coach at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., where he also became an assistant lacrosse coach. Later he became head lacrosse coach there.

Mr. Swan moved back to Delaware County to accept the job as head football coach at Haverford College in 1968, but the program was disbanded in 1972. At that time, he decided to start a club lacrosse program to fill a void, according to his second wife, Joan Swan.

“He thought the men, who had been football players, were sort of at loose ends,” his wife said in an interview. “So he decided to form the club sport. And then everybody got into it and he had said, ‘I’ll teach it to you.’”

The following the year, the sport was moved to the varsity level and the school has maintained a strong Division III program for years. Mr. Swan remained as head coach until 1986 and was athletic director from 1969-82. He served in the admissions department from 1983 until retiring in 2002.

“The first game ever played at Haverford was the first game many of the players had ever been involved in,” said his wife. “But there was such a great spirit among the original players.

“They loved it, and gave their all. Dana was always a very understanding coach, and very demanding.”

Current Haverford College coach Mike Murphy struck up a strong friendship with Mr. Swan, his wife said. She added that Murphy and President Steve Emerson, one of Mr. Swan’s first players in the 1970s, recently helped present Mr. Swan with a special gift.

“Their present coach is a wonderful gentleman, and he conferred with Dana,” she said. “When Dana was in the nursing home, the lacrosse team made a beautiful framed shirt. The shirt had all the signatures of this year’s lacrosse team and the coaches. It was a lovely tribute, and it showed how much he meant to the program.”

Mr. Swan often had former players come to his home to talk about their times at Haverford or to ask for advice about life. This fall the college will dedicate its new turf field in honor of Mr. Swan, and name it Swan Field.

“He was very perceptive about other people’s feelings and concerns and he just had a way of zeroing in on what was needed,” his wife said, also adding that she and Mr. Swan were college sweethearts and reunited at their 40th college reunion.

Mr. Swan was born in Philadelphia and served two years in the Marine Corps. He is survived by his wife, Joan (Nelson), daughters Betsy Swan of Pennsylvania, Susan Swan Smith of Texas, and Martha Swan Melichar of Florida; a stepson, Marc Aumuler; and nine grandchildren. Mr. Swan’s first wife, Priscilla (Boston), died in 1995.

A memorial service was held Saturday at Haverford Friends Meetinghouse, 855 Buck Lane, Haverford. A religious service was held June 13 at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Donations may be made to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Dana W. Swan Memorial Fund, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, Box 62, Chincoteague Island, Va. 23336.

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