P-P’s Don Swan Serves as Leader On and Off the Gridiron

Late in the third quarter
and down 10-34, things were not looking good for Pomona-Pitzer’s football team in last Saturday’s game against California Lutheran University (2-3, 2-1 SCIAC). Surrounded
by multiple defenders, it looked like tailback Aseal Birir PO ’18 would be
tackled easily, again drowning the Sagehens’ hope of bringing the game within reach. Yet out of nowhere, he
managed to bust out of the pile and race down the field, dodging defenders en
route to a 61-yard touchdown, bringing the Hens closer to tying the game up.

“It was a huge momentum lift, and the game was within reach,” safety and two-year captain Don Swan PO ’15 said. 

Ultimately, the Sagehens (0-5, 0-3 SCIAC) did fall to the Kingsmen 41-17. However, that didn’t stop Swan from finding the positives in the game, specifically highlighting this play. In true captain fashion, Swan emphasized the efforts of his fellow Hens over his own,
placing the team and his teammates above everything else.

“It was really just the first half of the first
quarter that was a rough start, but after that the next 3.5 quarters we played
them really tough,” Swan said. “We forced them to punt a lot and had a lot of great runs on

“Both my parents went to Pitzer,
which is where they met, and my grandparents live in Upland, so we’d always be
around,” Swan said. “My dad would always tell me this is where he played
football. So even though I’m from Arizona and Oregon, this has always felt like

As a football player, Swan has
spent his time on both sides of the ball. In fact, up until his junior year in
high school, he was an offensive player. As a senior, he switched to
defense and was ultimately recruited to play defense for the Hens. Nonetheless,
he was recruited for more than his defensive skills.

“He played the game with intensity
and was a super energetic guy,” head coach Roger Caron said. “We knew he was
special from when he first got here.”

Upon arriving on campus, Swan
quickly began to leave his mark on the team as a safety.

“As a team, we never truly know
what we’re doing on defense until we see what the offense is doing. And then
the safety is the one who vocalizes to the whole defense what defense to get
into,” Swan said. “It’s very fast-moving, and you have to be loud and quick.”

Beyond orchestrating the defense as
a starter for four years, Swan has
also used his charismatic personality to help lead the team off the field. In his role as a captain, Swan helps with off-season
training and facilitates communication between players and coaches throughout the

But Swan’s leadership doesn’t end on
the gridiron. He was the junior class president, and this year he serves
as president of the Kappa Delta fraternity, Mortar Board and Inter-Fraternity

Swan also landed a coveted
internship with the National Football League’s Player’s Association the summer before his junior year.
In this position, he worked closely with players to set up endorsements and the NFL executive director to work on an amendment for the player’s
bill of rights. Swan made sure to credit Pomona College for
the opportunities it has provided.

“A big reason why I came to Pomona
was because I wanted to go to a small college where I could make an impact,”
Swan said. “Here you get a top-notch education where you can also contribute
all four years to clubs and sports. Whatever you want to happen, you can make

While speaking highly of Swan’s accomplishments, Caron highlighted the captain’s personality. 

“When you
look at the paper of who he is, he is a good student, a four-year starter, all
league, and that’s impressive I suppose. But when you actually meet him
face-to-face, he’s a real, high-quality guy, energetic, super smart and just
fun to be around,” Caron said. “He is definitely the heart of this football

You can
catch Swan and his flock of Hens at 7 p.m. this Saturday at home as they take on
SCIAC opponent Whittier (2-3, 1-2 SCIAC) and strive for their first win of the

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