Penn's 'Coach Lake' passes away

This is not a blog post that I ever wanted to write, or news that I wanted to break. But I knew it would happen sooner or later. We all did.

Longtime Penn football assistant coach, cheerleader, and all-around supporter Dan "Coach Lake" Staffieri passed away this morning. He was 85 years old, and succumbed to the bladder cancer that kept him away from Franklin Field throughout last year.

If you've ever been to a Penn football game, you've seen Staffieri on the track wearing his trademark red and blue suit, leading the Quakers' student section in chants with a megaphone.

Here is the official statement from Penn's athletic department.

Staffieri is survived by his wife, Suzanne. There is no information yet about funeral arrangements or a memorial service.

The definitive profile of Staffieri was written in 2002 by Dave Zeitlin, then of the Daily Pennsylvanian. Four years later, the DP published another feature story on Staffieri's pregame and gameday routines.

Now, Staffieri's memory will live on by way of the bust of him that adorns the wall of the tunnel where the Penn football team enters Franklin Field.

I am sure that many of you who've been at Franklin Field over the years have memories that you'd like to share, and I hope you'll do so here.

I have a few, including the photo above that I took a few years ago. There's also an audio track below from one of Staffieri's appearances at a college football coaches' luncheon.

If it makes you feel any better, while I was writing this, I got a phone call from Penn's athletic department telling me that Usain Bolt is coming to the Penn Relays. The Daily News has the story, and here's the official release from Penn.

Many people have passed through Franklin Field and the Palestra over the years. But three men have carried the institutional knowledge of Penn sports more than anyone else: Staffieri, John McAdams and Dan Harrell.

I have spent a lot of time in their company, and I'm sure many of you have as well. Who knows how many stories they've told of legendary moments witnessed on 33rd Street.

Now two of them are gone. We should all hope that their memories never leave us.