YOUTH CAMP (2003)
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WCU selects Bill Zwaan as its new head football coach
Former Widener coach brings record of success to Golden Ram Country
WEST CHESTER, PA -West Chester University has selected standout Widener University head football coach Bill Zwaan to take over the coaching reins of the Golden Ram football program.
The announcement was made on Friday afternoon, Feburary 14, at a press conference held in Sykes Student Union on the campus of West Chester University.
Zwaan brings a wealth of experience and a record of success into Golden Ram Country. In 2002, he completed his sixth year as head coach of perennial NCAA Division III powerhouse Widener by leading the Pioneers to their third consecutive Middle Atlantic Conference Championship. Widener shared the honor with King’s College (Wilkes-Barre, PA) this year.
Zwaan’s career record is an outstanding 54-14. He owns the all-time highest winning percentage at Widener at .794, while his record ranks seventh among active NCAA Division III head coaches with at least five years of head coaching experience.
"It isn’t often you get an opportunity to hire a coach like Bill Zwaan," Dr. Madeleine Wing Adler, West Chester University’s president, said. "His outstanding credentials, his reputation for success in the classroom and in the athletic arena, and his ties to the local community are a perfect fit for Golden Ram football."
Dr. Edward Matejkovic, West Chester University’s director of athletics, echoed Adler’s comments.
"West Chester University football has a legacy of success. I feel Bill Zwaan is the coach to continue that legacy."
In 2001, Zwaan guided Widener to its second straight MAC title and a spot in the National Quarterfinals. He produced the first undefeated season in 20 years and reached second in the Division III national polls for five weeks during the campaign.
In addition to being named the Middle Atlantic Conference and Region II Coach of the Year in 2000 and again in 2001, Zwaan was named the Tri-State Region Coach of the Year by the Maxwell Football Club and was also honored as the American Football Monthly Coach of the Year.
Widener won a dozen games in both the 2001 and 2000 seasons and the Pioneers advanced to the NCAA Division III National Semifinals in 2000. That year Widener also captured the Division III Lambert Cup - an honor signifying football excellence in the East - and also won the Eastern College Athletic Conference Division III Team of the Year award. Zwaan’s accolades in the 2000 season culminated with him receiving the Good Guy Award from the Delaware County Daily Times.
Widener’s offense has been one of the most potent in the Middle Atlantic Conference over the years. The Pioneers won three straight titles in total offense from 1999-2001 and averaged a conference record 501.6 yards per game in 2001 - the fifth highest average among all Division III schools in the nation. Widener ranked third nationally in scoring, averaging 45.8 points per game, breaking its own previous conference record by a margin of 5.4 points per contest.
Zwaan’s success began in his first year as a collegiate head coach as he guided the Pioneers to a 7-3 record. The seven wins were the most victories by a rookie coach since 1902 when Ed Stearns guided Pennsylvania Military College (now Widener) to an 8-1 mark. Zwaan also jumped out to a 4-0 record that year, equaling the school standard for consecutive victories by a first-year head coach that was also set by Stearns’ 1902 team.
Zwaan improved to 8-3 in his second year and was named the Commonwealth League Coach of the Year. The Pioneers shared the league title with Susquehanna, marking their third league title since the conference realigned in 1993, and earned a spot in the ECAC III Southeast Championship game.
Zwaan became the first Widener football coach since Stearns (1902-05) to record consecutive winning seasons -now at five straight - when taking over the Widener program. The only other head coach to accomplish consecutive successful campaigns to begin a career was Jud Timm, who picked up back-to-back winning campaigns in his first two years (1930 - 6-3-1/1931 - 4-3-2) as head coach.
Zwaan has produced 13 All-Americas and four Academic All-Americas, while wide receiver Michael Coleman became the first Widener player drafted by the NFL in 20 years (2002). Jim Jones, who helped form the most formidable receiving tandem in the country, signed a free agent contract following the draft.
Zwaan was named the 20th head coach of the Pioneer program on January 14, 1997. Three months later he took over as athletic director of the institution’s 22-varsity sport program.
Widener’s athletic programs have captured 21 conference titles in that span, while 26 student-athletes - of the 34 selections in school history - have earned Academic All-America honors under his tenure. Since 1997-98, football players earning Academic All-America honors include T.J. Hess, Brandon Richards, Matt Witmer and Andrew Waxman.
Hess received two of the highest honors in the nation as he was named the Academic All-America of the Year for the College Division (Divisions II, III, NAIA) and was one of 16 recipients of an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship from the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.
Zwaan arrived at Widener in 1992 and served as the defensive coordinator for five seasons. Under his direction, the Pioneer defense won the Middle Atlantic Conference rushing defense title, allowing just 92.5 yards per game, and finished second in total defense. The defense also ranked in the Top 25 nationally in scoring and passing efficiency.
The 1994 season saw the Pioneers capture their first NCAA playoff game since 1981 by shutting out top-seeded Dickinson 14-0 in the first round. It was the first shutout the Pioneers had recorded since the 1990 season.
As the defensive coordinator, Zwaan coached four All-Americas, including two-time selections O.J. McElroy and Blaise Coleman, who was also a three-time GTE Academic All-District II selection.
During his tenure at Widener, Zwaan was also an assistant baseball coach in 1992 and served as the program’s head coach for four seasons beginning in 1993.
Zwaan’s football coaching career began at Monsignor Bonner High School where he was the offensive coordinator from 1977-79. He later served stints at the University of Cincinnati, coaching the defensive backs, and at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, where he also coached baseball and assisted Mariner athletic director George Paterno (1983-84).
Following three years as merchandise general manager for the Philadelphia Spectrum, Zwaan joined former Widener head coach Bill Cubit in 1988 at Martin County (FL) High School. There he compiled a 23-9 mark as grid coach from 1989-91. A native of Havertown, PA, Zwaan returned to Delaware County to join the Widener staff in 1992.
Zwaan was a standout quarterback at the University of Delaware and led the Blue Hens to the 1974 NCAA Division II National Championship game as a junior. He earned his bachelor of science in marketing management in 1979. Born on November 9, 1954, Zwaan resides in Malvern, PA, with his wife Rosemary and their two children, Billy (18) and Caroline (15).
Zwaan becomes the 15th coach in West Chester University football history. West Chester owns an all-time mark of 499-233-18 (.667) dating back to its inaugural season in 1920, while its official NCAA record (since 1927) stands at 468-215-17 (.681) and ranks second all-time in Division II. West Chester became a four-year institution and a member of the NCAA in 1927.
West Chester will open up its 2003 campaign at the University of New Haven on Saturday, September 6, 2003, at 1 p.m. in West Haven, CT.
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