Bill Zwaan, Jr.

The Zwaans have made it a clean sweep of the Maxwell Club’s Tri-State honors. Bill Zwaan, Jr., is the winner of the 2007 Tri-State Player of the Year Award. His father Bill, Sr., was selected Tri-State Coach of the Year in 2001.

The Zwaans formed a winning team at West Chester University where Bill, Sr., is head coach and Bill, Jr., was the star quarterback. Last season, Bill, Jr., completed 173 of 307 pass attempts for 2,973 yards and 28 touchdowns as the Golden Rams posted a 9-3 record and qualified for the Division II playoffs.

It is not always the smoothest, or happiest, arrangement: a father coaching his son, particularly at the college level. It is even more complicated in football when the son is a quarterback and Dad is the head coach. The Zwaans made it work, although they admit it wasn’t always easy.

“We’re the same type person, which shows itself on the field sometimes,” Bill, Jr., told Mike Jensen of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I threw a bad pass once. He started screaming. The 25-second clock was running down. No play was called yet. I yelled, ‘Get the play in.’ You’ve got to calm him down.”

Bill, Jr., starred at Great Valley High School while Bill, Sr., was coaching at Widener. Bill, Jr., was planning to attend Shippensburg University, but then his father took the head coaching position at West Chester, which meant they would have competed against each other in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. They agreed that would not be a good idea.

“I knew that my father was looking toward a national program and I didn’t want to play against him,” Bill, Jr., told Don Beideman of the Inquirer. “I also told myself that when there were rough times wherever I went, I had to remember it was my decision, no one else’s.”

Bill, Jr., chose West Chester even though he knew people would be quick to criticize if they thought he was getting preferential treatment. As it turned out, Bill, Jr., sometimes believed the opposite was true. He did not crack the starting lineup until midway through the 2005 season. He grew impatient with the wait.

“I usually would call my mom when it got to the point where I got real heated up,” Bill, Jr., said. “I’d say, ‘Mom, maybe I made the wrong decision. Maybe it would be better for both of us if I left.’”

“Rosemary Zwaan would talk things through with her son and persuade him to stick it out,” Jensen wrote. “But it made for at least one awkward Thanksgiving. Bill, Jr., remembers basically giving his father the silent treatment.”

“Partly because I was younger,” he explained. “It was just being angry at your Dad and all that. I think I grew up.”

Bill, Jr., grew up, all right, and he developed into one of the best players in the school’s history as well as an honor roll student.

“From a dad’s standpoint – take the coaching part out – I don’t know how I would have handled him going somewhere else,” Bill, Sr., told Jensen. “Not seeing it every day, missing his games, talking about it on the phone instead of actually witnessing it. Now five years later, things have worked out so well for him. I’m so happy he came to play for me, because I got to see the whole thing.”

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West Chester University