Students at Newark Memorial High almost certainly know that popular math teacher, football coach and athletic director Rich Swift has a untreatable brain tumor and isn't given long to live, athletic booster Stacy Kelly told Patch Thursday.
It was her Facebook note Wednesday that alerted Swift's many friends and supporters of the fatal condition that the coach himself only learned of on Tuesday.
"This is a big shock," said David Marken, superintendent of Newark Unified School District, who has briefed teachers and staff about the Coach's condition.
Marken said Swift's family is trying to arrange 24-hour-hospice care once he is released from the hospital which is currently set to happen on Saturday.
"That's the plan right now," Marken said, "but with conditions like this things could change."
Marken said when he visited Coach Swift at the hospital Thursday morning, some wrestlers who he'd led to a championship in 1992 were there, having driven down from Oregon to pay their respects.
But the Coach is really too weak for such attention. Marken said family and hospital staff have put a "No Visitors" sign on his door.
"He isn't able to speak," Marken said, though he still seems able to comprehend.
"When one of the coaches visited last night, she said, 'Squeeze my hand if you agree.' and he did," Marken said.
No one knows how long Coach Swift has left to live but it's likely to be measured in days.
"Hospice care is not long term," Marken said.
The suddenness of it all makes the situation seem all the more grim, according to Kelly.
In retrospect, she said, the first clue that something was wrong came shortly after New Year's when Coach Swift had an accident while driving his golf cart on campus.
Kelly said he hurt his leg in that accident. It wasn't a break but a lesser injury that, nevertheless, did not heal.
She said the Coach took some sick time and came back to school for a few days.
But things only went from bad to worse.
There came a time, Kelly said, when Coach Swift couldn't get out of bed and lost the use of his right side.
In late January, she said he was taken to the hospital where he stayed for about 10 days before he underwent a brain scan on Tuesday.
Kelly said that scan revealed that he had an inoperable tumor.
At this point there appears little to do except to keep the Coach comfortable. And maybe to pray.
"We're just waiting to see what happens," Kelly said.
Read more about Coach Swift's condition and career here.
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- Community Prays for Longtime Football Coach Swift