Farewell to a legend

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One story goes like this: Coach Ted Barclay and the men’s golf team were gearing up for a tournament, but the guys hadn’t had a chance to eat on the trip and were hungry. Barclay asked the golfers what they wanted from McDonald’s, and after dropping them off to begin play, he drove the team’s unmarked rental van off to the nearest drive-thru. When he returned to the course with the burgers, though, he delivered the food to his athletes directly by driving the van out onto the course via the cart paths. Not exactly what the greenkeeper likes to see, right? When confronted by the angry grounds crew and asked where he was from, without hesitation, Barclay replied, “Wittenberg.”

Another story goes like this: Ted Barclay and Lynn Schweizer, then women’s swimming and diving coach and now senior associate director of athletics, were teaching students deep-water scuba diving skills at Lake Hudson in Granville. When Schweizer realized a few had left their weight belts back on campus, she started to pound her brain looking for a solution of how to get the weights delivered to the lake, but saw quickly that Barclay had solved the problem already — simply stuffing rocks he had found on the shore inside the students’ wet suits!

And one more, simply because they’re all so good and so telling: When Coach Ted was in middle school, he took notice of a gal named Patricia Linzell. In an attempt to get her attention, he folded a paper airplane and launched it in her direction. He hit his target — it lodged in her collar — but the teacher had caught Barclay in action. He was appropriately punished, but he would get the last laugh, marrying that same girl so many years later (a period that included an impromptu college Homecoming date) on March 14, 1953.

Barclay died on Jan. 31, 2014, at the age of 83, but these are the stories that will go on, and many were shared at Barclay’s memorial on Wednesday (Feb. 5), which drew a crowd in Swasey Chapel despite the extreme snow and ice that forced Denison to close for the day.

Prior to the memorial service, the Barclay family greeted Denison alumni, faculty and staff, Granville community members and current student athletes. Barclay had a 35-year career at Denison, serving as head coach for six different varsity programs, including men’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s soccer, and men’s golf. He also served as the men’s athletic director for much of that time. The start of Barclay’s Denison career began with the debut of Gregory Pool in 1962, and it was Barclay who was called upon to serve as an official for the final meet to be held in that historic pool 50 years later.

Coach Ted Barclay

Coach Ted Barclay

Barclay’s teams earned great successes during his tenure, including a 1985 North Coast Athletic Conference 6-0 ledger in men’s soccer and four NCAA Championship tournament appearances in the same sport. The men’s swimming and diving team garnered 10 runner-up finishes at the Ohio Athletic Conference Championships, as well as a sixth-place national finish in 1969 and an eighth-place national finish in 1970. He took the women’s soccer team to an NCAC Championship win, a record of 16-4-1, and a berth in the NCAA Championship Tournament (the first in the program’s history), all in his first year as head coach. That same year, he was named the NCAC Women’s Soccer Coach of the Year. He retired in 1997 as an associate professor emeritus, but continued to coach in the department for several years following his retirement.

It’s hard to see a legend like Barclay go, along with his mentorship of students, his collaboration with colleagues, his efforts to enhance life in the local community, his dedication to hard work, and his signature traits — his unbridled enthusiasm and irrepressible wit. But the memories and stories of the man will live on much longer, like the image that Jeff Barclay, Ted’s youngest son, shared during the memorial service.

It was a metaphor of the old Big Red Bus (the repurposed and repainted school bus that transported Denison’s varsity teams to their road contests) pulling up to the curb at the old field house, with other late DU coaching legends Tommy Thomsen, Keith Piper, and Bob Shannon calling to Ted to join them on board. And off they went together.

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