By Scott Kindberg
Nolan Swanson's Facebook wall was getting plenty of attention on Tuesday.
Sherman Central School girls basketball coach Mel Swanson talks with his team during the 2009 New York State Public High School Athletic Association Final Four at Hudson Valley Community College. Since the 1977-78 school year, Swanson has coached at the varsity, junior varsity and junior high levels for both boys and girls.
P-J file photo by Scott Kindberg
By early evening, his post had resulted in dozens and dozens of comments and/or likes from, among others: buddies from his days at Wake Forest University; former track and field rivals at Duke and North Carolina; former athletes from when he coached at SUNY Fredonia; and family, friends and associates from Westfield to Eugene, Ore.
''It was a pretty good sample of my history,'' Nolan said.
And what was it that created such a response?
Following is what Nolan wrote:
Congratulations to my Dad, who between all the basketball teams he has ever coached, just won his 1,000th ballgame. Yes, 1,000. Imagine winning a game every day for almost three years. Amazing.
''It was pretty neat,'' said Nolan, the owner and president of Pinehurst Golf Club in Westfield. ''It was so quick. I put it on there (Tuesday morning) and I was just going about my business at the house and I looked back 20 minutes later ...''
What he found was that Mel Swanson's latest milestone was quite an attention-grabber.
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See SWANSON, Page B2
From Page B1
Normally, results from junior high sports in the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association are never publicized, but Sherman Central School's victory Monday night in an eighth-grade girls game against Cassadaga Valley deserves mention.
It was a ''grand'' performance.
For when the final buzzer sounded, Mel had secured win No. 1,000 in a coaching career that began in 1977-78. Along the way, he's called the hoop shots for Sherman's varsity boys and girls teams, its junior varsity boys and girls squads and the junior high boys and girls teams.
When all the victories are added up - daughter-in-law Amy Swanson (Nolan's wife) has been keeping track - they total in four figures.
''It's affirming that I'm old,'' Mel said with a laugh Tuesday night.
Well, that's not really true.
Although he has retired from teaching, Mel, 58, is still going strong with his athletic interests. While he's primarily known for his success coaching Sherman's varsity girls basketball team (he reached 500 careers wins during the 2009-10 season), he is still courtside with the eighth-grade girls, serves as the Wildcats' golf coach and is the school's athletic director.
And there doesn't appear to be an end in sight.
''I kind of have an idea,'' Mel said, ''but every year I seem to find a player or two who looks like they are becoming players and you want to see them through. It's hard to think about not coaching them. I'll know when the time is right. Right now I don't have any plans. Pretty much the school says I can coach as long as I want.''
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Mel figures that he's coached between 1,400 and 1,500 games in his career. What he finds especially gratifying is that he is coaching a second generation of girls.
''I've had some girls on my eighth-grade teams and I've also coached their mothers,'' he said.
It's that family atmosphere that has served the Sherman community so well for more than three decades.
''It just shows his dedication to the kids at that school and how much he loves to do it,'' Nolan said.
And Nolan, his mother, Mary, brothers Patrick and Ryan, and sister Lesley, all know about Mel's love of family.
''He's a selfless man and one of our best friends,'' Nolan said. ''He's a generous guy ... and he's who you'd want to be (like) if you want to be the best dad.''
And for future coaches, well, they might be advised to follow Mel's blueprint on the bench, too.
His family and countless former players could give you a thousand reasons why.