As Clemson head coach, Dabo Swinney is known to college football fans all over the country. However, to Clemson players and the Swinney family it is Kathleen Swinney that makes things happen. From her work with their non-profit to raising their three children, Kathleen’s talent and hard work are evident.
Aside from Dabo’s role as head coach, the couple are very active in the Clemson community. They are involved in a number of charitable activities including their own foundation. The couple have known each other since childhood and have quite the unique story.
Here’s what you need to know about Dabo’s wife, Kathleen Swinney:
1. Dabo and Kathleen Are Childhood Sweethearts
According to The Post and Courier the couple have known each other since early elementary school in Birmingham, Alabama. It was not until they were both attending Pelham High School that they started dating.
“We always kind of liked each other and when I was old enough to date in high school, we did,” Kathleen told Greenville Online. The two would end up attending the University of Alabama together.
2. The Swinneys Have Three Children
According to Fox Carolina, the couple has three sons ranging from 12 to 17 years old. Clay, Drew and Will all play football at their schools. All three boys are avid Clemson fans.
“My boys bleed orange. This is where they’ve been raised,” Kathleen recently told Fox Carolina. Aside from raising her own children, Kathleen is actively involved with the Clemson players and their families.
“It’s not just us; even all the players she’s keeping up with and bringing them goodies every week. She’s always making something for someone and keeping with us three. My dad’s always on the road, so she does a great job,” Will Swinney told The Post and Courier.
3. She Lost Her Sister, Lisa, to Cancer
Lisa Lamb, Kathleen’s sister, battled cancer throughout her life. According to ESPN, she was pronounced cancer-free in 2003 after battling the disease. However, in 2009 the cancer returned but this time it had reached her brain and lungs. In April 2011, Lisa died from the effects of the disease.
The experience caused Kathleen to go to a genetic counselor to see if she carried the disease. She found out she did possess the same gene her sister had which meant there was a ninety percent chance she would end up with breast cancer at some point in her life. Kathleen had several options but decided to have a double mastectomy to drastically decrease her chances of getting the disease to one percent. A few years later she had a hysterectomy to reduce her chances of getting ovarian cancer.
4. Kathleen and Dabo Earned Master’s Degrees at Alabama
After attending the same high school together, the couple decided to attend Alabama. According to Greenville Online, Kathleen’s undergraduate degree was in elementary education while Dabo studied business administration. Dabo walked on to the Alabama football team. They both ended up continuing their graduate education at Alabama.
After Dabo finished playing for the Crimson Tide, he stayed on as a graduate assistant for the football team. Kathleen earned her master’s degree in education. Dabo began his career as a coach while Kathleen taught elementary school.
5. The Couple Runs Dabo’s All In Team Foundation
The foundation focuses on a number of different things but one of its main focuses is breast cancer research. According to the foundation’s website, the objective is to “raise funds annually for breast cancer prevention and research with an emphasis on local university research programs, and efforts providing medical screening/testing to local upstate residents.”
Kathleen was motivated by seeing her sister battle cancer. “I just feel really, really passionate about breast cancer and breast cancer research, because if that wasn’t known about the research, I more than likely would have breast cancer right now,” she told Fox Carolina.