In second grade, his mother tells the story of how he was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up. Paul Swan, originally from Gothenburg, said “a coach.”
Swan is being honored Saturday for completing his 50th year of being a Stevenson High School coach in Lincolnshire, Ill. Swan has been part of the Stevenson basketball coaching staff for the last 50 years and has also served as a baseball and football coach for over 30 years. Recently, he has also been an assistant football coach for Bethel University, a NCAA Division III institution in St. Paul, Minn.
After graduating from Gothenburg High School in 1965, Swan got a degree in secondary education and math from Trinity College in Illinois. In 1969, he was interviewed by Stevenson High School and hired the same day. Although he retired in 2002 after teaching for 33 years, he continued to be an assistant coach for the basketball team.
One of the highlights of Swan’s coaching career was the opportunity to coach the Stevenson team that won the Illinois state basketball championship in 2015.
When asked how he felt about the coming celebration, he said, “It is a cool, but a little bit embarrassing that people wanted to honor me. I am grateful.”
Swan said that he had some of the greatest coaching mentors in his own coaches from Gothenburg. He listed Larry Ostergard, who coached little league; Clair Borroff, who coached football; Tim Ambler, who coached basketball; and Dutch Zorn who, coached track.
“I took some of all of those guys with me into my own coaching. They are so important to me,” he said.
Norm Pramburg, a childhood friend and fellow high school athlete, described Swan as well known and respected with a love for sports, a bubbly personality, and the ability to talk to anyone.
“I think it’s fantastic that he is being honored. He’s one of those true coaches that players love to follow and admire,” he said. “I have cherished his friendship and love for the Lord. I’ve admired him and know he’s very deserving.”
Swan was born in Gothenburg and lived on a farm east of town. He had two brothers, Doug (deceased) and Nick. Jokingly, Nick said that because he was seven years younger, he was “picked on alot” by Paul. The boys attended District Middle School 2 for kindergarten through eighth grades before going to high school in Gothenburg. Because of the age difference, Nick said he was not able to play sports with his brother in school.
Nick and his wife Linda plan to attend the celebration on Saturday.
“I am awfully proud of him. I’ve always admired him for living his dream. I don’t think he’s done yet,” Nick said.
“I get the most enjoyment out of the interaction with the other coaches and the players,” Paul said. “It is something I’ve always wanted to do, and I have wanted to be a faithful assistant. It’s a team effort.”