"Coach Lake" Passes Away at the Age of 85


Coach Lake Photo Gallery

Memories of Coach Lake that have been sent to the University

Coach Lake Articles:
Daily Pennsylvanian: Doing Better Than His Best (11/5/2002)
Daily Pennsylvanian:
Coach Lake - Better than the Best (4/9/10)
Daily Pennsylvanian: Penn icon Coach Lake dies of cancer at 85 (4/9/10)
Philly.com: Penn's Coach Lake Passes Away (4/8/10)
Philadelphia Daily News: Longtime Penn Football icon Dan 'Lake' Staffieri dies at 85 (4/9/10)
Philadelphia Inquirer: Staffieri 'Face of Penn Football' dies at 85 (4/9/10)

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PHILADELPHIA- The Penn football program, athletic department, and community in general lost an iconic figure on Thursday morning when it was learned that Dan "Lake" Staffieri had passed away. "Coach Lake", 85, had been battling cancer of the bladder, which (in his words) had forced him to "redshirt" this past football season.

A member of the football staff for the past 33 years, Coach Lake was well known throughout campus, and with his outfits he was certainly one of its most recognizable figures -- usually plaid pants, a red blazer, and a cap. He also had a tendency to wear a piece of tape on his forehead with different messages. During football season, he could be seen on Fridays before home games being driven around campus in hisPenn helmet cart, using his megaphone to raise school spirit. On game days, he prowled the sideline in his cart, wearing all of his Ivy League championship rings on his 10 fingers.

With phrases like "do better than your best," "setbacks pave the way for comebacks," and of course his favorite chant -- "I! V! Y! CHAMPS!!" -- Coach Lake was one of the University's most beloved figures.

"It is hard to believe that the face of Penn football will no longer be on the sidelines imploring kids to 'do better than your best,'" said the George A. Munger Head Coach of Football, Al Bagnoli, who amazingly had presented Coach Lake with his 2009 Ivy League championship ring -- Staffieri's 13th with the program -- just the day before. "Coach Dan 'Lake' Staffieri was the thread which linked past generations of players and coaches together and made them understand what 'Penn Pride' really meant. We join countless numbers of past players, coaches and alumni in expressing our deepest sympathy to his wife Suzanne 'Buttercup' and his family. He will forever be remembered as an iconic figure in Penn football and a great friend and mentor to all."

"This is a sad day for the Penn Athletics family," said Director of Athletics Steve Bilsky. "Sometimes we overstate the impact that one has on people's lives, but not with Coach Lake. He gave hope and confidence to generations of student-athletes who had the privilege to know him. We are all saddened by his passing, and our thoughts go out to his family."

A statue depicting Coach Lake always greets the Quakers as they take the field from the East end of Franklin Field, and for years Staffieri was the first person they saw as they emerged from the tunnel.

A native Philadelphian, Staffieri was born on Sept. 20, 1924. He played his college football at Maryland and was a member of the Terps' 1953 national championship team. While at Maryland, he played in four bowl games -- two Orange Bowls, one Gator Bowl, and the 1953 Sugar Bowl.

Prior to joining Penn's staff in 1977 as head freshman coach and an assistant to Harry Gamble's staff, Staffieri coached at the high school level with stops at St. Joseph's Prep, St. Thomas More, Lenape, Cherry Hill West, and West Catholic.

Coach Lake earned his nickname because, when he told people his name, he would say, "Dan Staffieri...it rhymes with Lake Erie."

Staffieri is survived by his wife, Suzanne ("Buttercup").

Relatives and friends are invited to share in his "Life Celebration" at the BOYD-HORROX FUNERAL HOME OF EAST NORRITON, 200 W. Germantown Pike, Norristown PA (1-800-GIVNISH) on Tuesday, April 13, 2010 from 6-9 p.m. There will be additional receiving of relatives and friends on Wednesday, April 14 from 8:30-11 a.m. in St. Helena R.C. Church, Center Square, PA with the Funeral Mass being celebrated at 11:30. Burial will be private. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that memorial contributions in his memory be made to either the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation (Box 1035, Paoli, PA 19301) or to St. Helena R.C. Church (1489 DeKalb Pike, Center Square, PA 19422).