Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A tribute to long-time coach, mentor and Seawolf- Dave Alexander

Submit your memories of Coach Dave to seawolvesathletics@stonybrook.edu

Stony Brook, N.Y. - The legacy of coach Dave Alexander left a lasting impression on many people in the Stony Brook community and beyond. In honor of the late, great Coach Dave, Stony Brook Athletics invites you to submit your memories, experiences and words of remembrance, which will be collected and posted here as an ongoing tribute to Dave Alexander.

Alexander, who passed away in June following a courageous battle against cancer, won more than 300 dual meets in his 32-year Stony Brook career. After joining the Stony Brook University community in 1979 as an assistant coach for the men's team, he founded the women's swimming and diving program and worked alongside men's swimming & diving coach and friend John DeMarie. Coach Alexander eventually took over the men's program for DeMarie in 1995, and assumed the role as head coach for both Stony Brook programs until his passing in 2012.
DeMarie was first to offer up his words of remembrance:

Today is a very sad day for me and all who knew David Alexander. I met my friend Dave in 1978, my first year at Stony Brook. I was coaching my first men's team when Dave came into my office, 60's length hair and all, asking if I would agree to bring his USS swim club into our facility.
I sure am glad I did.
That was 1978, and the team was Gotham Aquatics, and our university team at that time was the Patriots (anyone remember?).
Soon after Dave moved in, I began coaching with him as a Gotham Club coach, and a short time later, Dave started the SB Women's Team.
The rest was history.
We shared the pool deck every day, from 3:30-6:00 p.m., coaching men's and women's teams, then we took a five-minute break and started our club team from 6:00-8:30 p.m. One of our favorite sayings was "More Coffee."

Dave and I did this every day, five to six days a week, 10 months a year, for the next 25 years. We never had a cross word, either. He was my best friend. We shared not only the pool, but our lives. Dave was always available to any of his swimmers who needed some time and good advice on any matter affecting their lives. He was always patient and understanding.

A funny thought from those early years...We both were driving wrecks: he had a Dodge Aspen wagon missing floorboards, and I had a Dodge Omni with the shift linkage held together with vice grips. My European driving gloves were yard gloves from Home Depot. We had to get to each other's cars every night to make sure they would start. My daughter Jess still remembers the rides in the Dave's car watching the road go by. I will miss him more than words can tell, as will so many others whose lives he has touched so positively.

At the 2012 Stony Brook Student-Athlete Awards Banquet (The Wolfies), Dave was given the Courage Award, an annual accolade that is earmarked for someone who has displayed significant courage during a time of great adversity. Prior to receiving the award, a brief tribute film for Dave, which can be seen below, was played for those in attendance. Numerous former student-athletes and friends submitted brief video clips wishing Dave all of the best in his courageous battle. It was a true testament to how many people cared for him. Dave was both surprised and overwhelmed with receiving the Courage Award. However, in his true fashion, he proceeded to give a speech that was full of humor and inspiration, while all 500 people in attendance stood and gave him a well-deserved ovation.


The legacy of coach Dave Alexander has clearly left a lasting impression on many people. Since his passing, many individuals have shared their memories of Coach Dave. Their thoughts are displayed below:
"You were an amazing coach, not only because of your deep knowledge of the sport but also because of your empathy, support and kindness."

"For me and so many others, you were so much more than a swim coach. You are going to be missed terribly. With love and memory always."

"Dave inspired all of us to be better people. This was a great man, a great friend, a great mentor, a great confidant, and a great coach. He will always be loved and missed."

"Coach Dave literally changed my life. I knew him since I was 8 years old. I remember trying out for the swim team and doing miserably. I couldn't complete a full lap without flapping about and hanging on the ropes. Four years later I broke the minute barrier in the 100 Freestyle. Dave wasn't just a coach, he was a life teacher; a teacher of discipline and respect."
Those interested in submitting thoughts and memories of Coach Alexander are encouraged to do so via email to seawolvesathletics@stonybrook.edu.