Dabo Swinney comes home to PHS

Published 4:11 pm Friday, April 29, 2011

Clemson University head football coach Dabo Swinney with his mother, Carol McIntosh, at a Clemson alumni event April 27 at Pelham High School. (Special/Connie Nolen)

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

Welcoming Clemson University’s head football coach Dabo Swinney back to Pelham High School for a Clemson University alumni function on April 26 brought back memories.

When I returned to Pelham High School as a teacher, I had been a PHS grad for only five years. Dabo Swinney was a junior — an almost grown version of the little boy I babysat when I was a teenager, and he was a mischievous kid.

Fortunately, Swinney was not in my classes. He felt too much like a little brother to be my student. Swinney’s mother, Carol McIntosh, remembers Swinney’s days at PHS.

“Dabo won a scholar athlete award when he was in high school, and he won another scholar athlete award when he was at the University of Alabama. Dabo was a perfectionist. I never had to tell him to do his homework.”

Swinney began keeping a big black book of plans and philosophies in 1993 when he worked under University of Alabama’s head football coach Gene Stallings.

“I’ve always been a dreamer and a planner,” said Swinney. “You have to prepare for life’s opportunities. When opportunities come, you must be ready.”

Swinney also believes in reading. His favorite book is “The Go Giver.” Swinney said, “The book says giving is more important than getting. Everyone should read this book.”

Swinney is finishing Jon Gordon’s, “Training Camp: What the Best Do Better than Everyone Else.” He is reading four or five devotional books, and he’s got two books he’s about to begin: Tony Dungy’s, “The Mentor Leader,” and “Bear Bryant on Leadership.”

Swinney received a framed replica of his PHS jersey from Principal Bob Lavett. From Pelham Mayor Don Murphy and retired Pelham mayor Bobby Hayes, Swinney received a proclamation designating an official “Dabo Swinney Day.”

Responding to questions about dealing with close, tough losses last season, Swinney said, “Going into the locker room when the kids left their guts on the field and lost in the final seconds is hard. I rely on my faith. I tell the players that we’ll get better. That’s my job, to make them better, and I plan to get the job done.”

A scholar and a man of faith, Swinney says, “I got into coaching to make a difference in people’s lives, to play a part in producing quality young men.”

Making a difference and making Pelham proud, Swinney marches on.

Connie Nolen can be reached by email at CNolen@Shelbyed.k12.al.us.