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Bethel High School Gymnasium Named In Honor Of Newtown's William Swanson



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Bethel High School Gymnasium Named In Honor Of Newtown’s William Swanson

By Andy Hutchison

It will be a big night for Newtown’s William Swanson on Friday, April 3. The gymnasium at Bethel High School will be named in honor of Swanson, the school’s former athletic director of more than four decades from 1955 through 1998.

Swanson, a 50-year resident of Newtown, along with Charleen, his wife of 51 years, will participate in a dedication at Bethel High at 6:30 pm. The event is open to the public.

Members of the school’s alumni board went to the Bethel Board of Education with the idea of naming the gym after the 82-year-old Swanson and word quickly spread about the decision to proceed.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Swanson said of hearing the news only a few weeks ago. He added that people were congratulating him even before he found out the news became official.

There were only a handful of sports teams at Bethel High School when Swanson became the athletic director in 1955. Swanson started the football program back when helmets had a single protective bar across the mostly-exposed facial area and when only 20 or so players came out for the team.

“We used to play different teams — like Wilton and Ridgefield and so forth,” Swanson said.

Those schools now compete in the FCIAC and Bethel, along with Newtown High, are in the South-West Conference.

In Swanson’s early days at Bethel, boys’ and girls’ basketball, softball, football and baseball were the only sports, he recalls. Throughout the years the student population grew, and more sports programs were put in place.

About four decades (and the establishment of many more teams at Bethel) later, Swanson reflects fondly on his days as athletic director and coach.

“I enjoyed it. We had great kids,” Swanson said.

Swanson played sports at Danbury High School. He was a basketball and football player and served as captain of both teams for three years. Swanson served in the Army prior to getting involved in a career in athletics.

He goes back to his old digs to watch a Bethel game from time to time. Now he will be able to watch games in a facility bearing his name.

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