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First-year Westlake coach already making an impact

Posted at 12:19 PM, Jan 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-21 13:45:53-05

WESTLAKE, Ohio — In 1999, Westlake graduating senior Karen Swanson-Haan had a what she called a lifelong dream. Her dream was to play basketball for the prestigious University of Notre Dame.

“It was really all I wanted to do, just to go there and wear that uniform and run out to the fight song,”

She made it happen, walking on to the team and living her childhood dream.

“Once I had the opportunity to do that, I wanted to do it more and more and I wanted to do it every year,” Swanson-Haan said.

But now she is no longer trying to get on the court, but rather guides a team from the sidelines as a first-year head coach for the Demons.

“She came in here knowing what she wanted," said junior guard Gina Adams. “She wanted to take this group to the next level. before we didn’t know our potential and this year we just tried to get to the next level.”

In addition to coaching, she also serves as a U.S. assistant attorney. However, coaching is an important part of her journey.

“I just thought what an amazing opportunity it would be to come back to my alma mater and have that impact on the next generation of student-athletes at Westlake,” Swanson-Haan said.

According to her players, she already has an impact early on in her head coaching career.

“For me, I have never spoken up before,” said senior guard Abby Matalavage. “This year I have gotten out of my shell.”

“In the beginning of the season, I struggled with mental issues. I didn’t have confidence in the beginning of the season,” Adams added. “I definitely feel more confident.”

And while Swanson-Haan’s playing days dressed in Irish threads are far behind her, she has come to realize she has plenty of purpose ahead of her.

“I really think my lifelong dream now is to coach. I really do,” Swanson-Haan said. “ I think I am meant to be right here at Westlake High School coaching these girls behind me and I am still living my dream, so I am very blessed.”