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Four people standing together and smiling on the sidelines at Stanford Stadium

Gift for Lacrosse Extends Donor’s Commitment to Women’s Sport

Head coaching position endowed by alum Paul Violich, ’57.

A generous gift to the lacrosse program demonstrates an alum’s strong support for women’s sports and commitment to a program on the rise. 

Paul Violich, ’57, has endowed the lacrosse head coaching position, ensuring that the program will be able to retain and recruit top-notch coaching staff. Danielle Spencer, starting her fourth season at the program’s helm, will be the inaugural Paul A. Violich Women’s Lacrosse Head Coach.

“We are very grateful for Paul’s gift to the lacrosse program and for his support of women’s sports across the department,” said Bernard Muir, the Jaquish & Kenninger Director of Athletics. “Paul’s long-standing commitment to providing resources for our female student-athletes enables them to achieve their very best.” 

Violich, a longtime supporter of the Cardinal, earned a bachelor’s in history from Stanford in 1957 and was a member of Stanford’s swimming and water polo teams. Following his graduation, Violich joined the Navy and served as a Navy Seal. In 1962, Violich returned to The Farm, competing on the rugby team while earning his MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. During his tenure at Stanford there were very few athletic opportunities for women; there were no varsity teams and only a handful of club teams.

Three of Violich’s five children competed as collegiate student-athletes. His son played varsity lacrosse at Dartmouth College and his daughters had impressive student-athlete careers of their own in soccer and lacrosse at the University of California, Berkeley. After his daughters’ foundational experiences in collegiate athletics, Violich wanted to ensure other women would have the same opportunities for years to come. He has remained a steadfast supporter of women in sport around the Bay Area, and specifically in women’s programs on The Farm, where he has also endowed the Paul A. Violich Director of Women’s Swimming.

“My daughters’ participation in athletics at a high level has motivated me to provide other young women with the same opportunity. Athletics has given my daughters confidence and made them competitive which has been an important trait to prepare them for their future careers. Competition has also taught them not to be disappointed by failure and has enabled them to understand that regardless of the outcome, they should never give up.”

Under Spencer’s direction, the Cardinal women’s lacrosse program has transformed into the class of the Pac-12. 

In 2021, Stanford completed an undefeated regular season at 9-0 and had the best start to a season in program history. The Cardinal won its first Pac-12 regular season title since the league’s inception in 2018 and finished the year ranked No. 16 in the IWLCA Coaches Poll. 

In 2022, Stanford swept the conference championships, winning both the Pac-12 regular season and Pac-12 Tournament titles. Spencer also led the team to its fourth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.

“The momentum of our program is palpable and proven,” said Spencer. “Our student-athletes can feel it, and so can I. We are having success in the classroom, success in recruiting, and success on the field. Paul Violich’s gift gives our program a meaningful push to compete at an elevated level and sustain success, and I am so grateful. We will carry this momentum into fall ball and our 2023 spring season. Go Card!”