Legendary Trainer Doug Weiss Dies

To:  The Swarthmore Community
From:  Alfred H. Bloom, President
Date:  September 28, 2006

With the passing of Professor Emeritus of Physical Education Doug Weiss on September 25th, the Swarthmore College community has lost its legendary athletic trainer, a revered teacher and a dear friend.  For thirty-four years, with unstinting generosity, compassion and devotion, Doug brought incomparable knowledge and experience in physical training and rehabilitation to the care of the Swarthmore College community.

A gathering in his memory will take place Fri., Nov. 3, at 4:30 p.m. in the Friends Meeting House. All are welcome to attend.

Doug trained at the U.S. Navy Hospital Corps School in San Diego, Ca., at the U.S. Navy School of Physical Therapy in Balboa, Ca., and at the University of Pennsylvania School of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He served for four years as corpsman and head trainer for the Marine Corps School in Quantico, Va., for three years as assistant trainer for the Philadelphia Eagles, and as director of the J. William White Training House and Training Table of the University of Pennsylvania, before joining the Swarthmore faculty in 1968.  He retired from the College as Professor of Physical Education and Head Trainer in 2002.

Read more in the Philadelphia Inquirer andThe Phoenix

Doug was a pioneer in his profession, establishing one of the first, if not the first, co-ed sports training facilities in the country; building Swarthmore's sports medicine program, as Marie Mancini, current head trainer, observes, "from the ground up;" and constantly implementing innovative approaches to fitness, rehabilitation and proactive care.

For generations of Swarthmore athletes, Doug developed individual courses of training or rehabilitation, diagnosed injuries, sensitively determined readiness to practice or play, and inspired the confidence to reach their highest potential.

He was a remarkable teacher of physical education with a specialty in weight training.  As recounted by Swarthmore men's tennis coach Mike Mullan "students flocked to his classes to listen to his lectures and take advantage of his guidance and, I think, simply to be in his presence... Doug was a warm and personally engaging man who felt blessed to be able to dedicate his life's work to the students of our small college."

Dr. Robert Blankfield '79, remembers Doug's role as a mentor and role model in sports medicine.  He recalled the moment when Doug entrusted to him responsibility to evaluate some of the players' injuries, "Doug provided me with an opportunity to rise to the occasion.  For me, it was a small step in the direction that would eventually lead me to a medical career as a family physician."  Dr. David Davis '74 shared his regard for Doug, "I am proud to say that Doug was one of my mentors at Swarthmore and I owe to him a tribute of true friendship and gratitude for the exceptional teacher and caring being that he was. He had a vast knowledge base, but was able to share it in a manner that did not humble one, instead making the possibilities of further understanding exciting."

Athletics Director Adam Hertz, remembering Doug coming in to treat a student at 1:30 in the morning, noted how selflessly Doug gave of himself to the entire Swarthmore community, "welcoming not only students, but faculty, staff, community members and their children into his training room and imparting his philosophy of thoughtfulness, thoroughness and compassion to all those who had the opportunity to work with and learn from him."

In 1989 as an expression of their profound appreciation for Doug, colleagues, friends and former students created the "Doug Weiss Residency in Sports Medicine" at Swarthmore, which supports a full-time assistant trainer position within the department of Athletics and Physical Education.  In 2001 West Chester University established a scholarship recognizing Doug's years of service as a mentor to students in athletics training there.

Doug's contribution to the quality of our athletics program and to the well-being of our entire community, his remarkable talent and humane care, and his love of this College have made him a very special person in the history of Swarthmore. With deep affection for Doug and appreciation for his impact on generations of Swarthmore students, faculty and staff, we extend our warmest sympathies to Gail, his wife of forty years.  We will miss Doug greatly.

A memorial service on campus is being planned for later this fall.