IN MEMORIAM: Southington soccer, tennis players mourn the passing of Dan Murawski

IN MEMORIAM: Southington soccer, tennis players mourn the passing of Dan Murawski

reporter photo

SOUTHINGTON — Dan Murawski founded the Southington High School boys soccer program and was among – if not the – founders of Southington High girls tennis.

He passed away in Florida last week at the age of 76.

Murawski was well remembered for his contributions to Southington athletics. He also taught History at the school for 38 years.

Murawski established the boys soccer program at Southington High School and was the head coach from 1969 through his final season in 1998.

He coached girls tennis at the school for 26 seasons, with his final on coming in the spring of 1999.

From 1976 to 1998, Murawski posted 23 straight winning seasons and had an overall record of 298-127-59.

He was the Connecticut boys soccer Coach of the Year in 1992 he also recieved the award for girls tennis. Murawski's soccer teams won 11 conference championships, including six in a row from 1986-91.

The team had no feeder program in his first five seasons and each of those teams finished with losing records. Then came the 10-2-2 breakthrough in 1974.

There were undefeated regular seasons in 1986 and 1989. There were two All-Americans in John Crowley (1984) and Keith Raines (1989).

Murawski received Outstanding Coaching awards from the Connecticut High School Coaches Association for both boys soccer and girls tennis.

“The brilliance of his coaching was in getting our team in better physical shape running us to death early in the season so the second half of every game was our time as the other team was sucking wind,” said Kevin Scanlon, who played for Murawski from 1981-83. “He made us believe that we would win before every game, detailing a scenario (and) naming the players who would build up and assist and score for another Blue Knights victory.”

“His gift to put your mindset matching his and all our players was powerful,” Scanlon continued. “His tactical decisions, like having one strong defensive player shut down the opposition’s top scorer by not allowing them to even touch the ball (like box and one in basketball), as one example, proved extremely effective, and took us to conference championships and state tournaments consistently.

“The SHS pride I feel still to this day is a legacy of his tutelage beyond any academic success,” Scanlon added. “Our team was a beast and we damn well knew it thanks to coach believing in us. God bless him.”

Marty Senich played for Murawski from 1980-82 and said his high school coach will be remembered as the face of Southington boys soccer.

“I would see him years later at alumni events and Coach was in the same shape as he was when I as in high school,” Senich said. “Coach had high standards and he communicated those standards to us clearly. He favored nobody. Knowing him made me a better person and a better player on the field.”

Senich added that Southington rarely had more talent than other teams in those days, but was often in better shape.

“He set us up for success and preached for us to be in shape because we have to get to the finish line,” Senich said. 

Senich added that he still uses the same stretches he learned in high school from Murawski.

“He left a lasting impression on me,” Senich said.

Current Southington girls tennis coach Robin Thompson played tennis for him for three years. She was the No. 1 seed as a junior.

“Family was the most important thing to Coach,” Thompson said. “Then it was teaching and then it was coaching. He filled a void for Southington girls tennis when we needed someone. We had a club program before he started coaching, but he may have been the first varsity girls tennis coach. I still talk about him with my girls.”

Thompson said Murawski helped with the mental aspect of the game.

“I never had so much fun playing tennis,” Thompson said. “He never let us get too big for our britches.”

Thompson said Murawski made a mark at Southington.

“Why we don't have something named for him at the school yet is beyond me,” Thompson said. “He made high school tennis fun for me. I looked forward to going to school and playing tennis every day because of him. I will always be grateful for that.”

Murawski was born and raised in Bristol. Out of Bristol Eastern, he received an academic scholarship to Lake Forest College in Illinois, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and played three sports.

He earned his Masters Degree in Education at Central Connecticut State University before starting his Southington High teaching and coaching job in 1969.

He and Eileen, his wife of 51 years, have two children and seven grandchildren.

Local school, election and coronavirus news is more crucial now than ever. Help our newsroom deliver the coverage you deserve. Support Local news.