There have been very few individuals who have had an impact on a sport more than Warren Swanson, or as his friends and kids, Gregg, Gary and Lynn, referred to him "Waso". Soccer in Waterford, southeastern CT and the state of Connecticut produced some of the best soccer players in the country because of Warren. Because he loved the game before most even knew the rules or had a child playing "the world's game."
I can honestly say, Warren was the reason I loved the game, the reason I excelled at Waterford High School and played Division I soccer. He was the first person who said I should think about coaching the game when I completed my playing career in the Connecticut Soccer League. Warren invited me to coach with him at Waterford High School in the early 90's and I could not have enjoyed the experience more, learned more about the game or coaching kids, as I did those years. Warren changed my love of the game to a passion for the game and coaching kids. He had high standards and coached kids as if they were "what they could be, not as they were." He held high school players accountable and responsible and his players loved him for that. He valued the small things, like hard work, healthy competition, respect for opponents, giving all you had for your teammates and above all else appreciating the opportunity you had as a player to "lace up your boots" and play the beautiful game of soccer. Life lessons I never even realized at the time.
Warren loved family and family always came first. He accepted me, and many others in the soccer world, from day one...took me under his wing and after each of our 13 ECC Championships with the WHS girls soccer team, always reached out personally to congratulate me and the team and tell me how proud he was of me. He didn't have to do it, it's just what he did, who he was. The first person to call me and take me out for lunch after my final game coaching at WHS, after winning the 2013 Class M State Championship. He was proud of me and the 20 years I coached, 20 years of sacrifice and doing the same things he taught me and thousands of others he coached over his amazing career. And yes, I got to thank Waso for changing my life for the better, for believing in me and for always being there for me, every chance I had. Loyalty, Soccer, Friends and Family. Simple, but shaped so many of us.
Thank you Warren and entire Swanson family for sharing so much with me and all of us here in Waterford and Connecticut. Please know, I will always be "thankful" I had the opportunity get to know you all better and be part of your soccer family. Rest easy Waso, you will be missed.
Rob Brule, First Selectman