Fran Troyan (left) head coach of the Lehigh softball team and David Troyan (right) volunteer assistant coach of the Lehigh softball team. Troyan is in his second season as an assistant coach. (Courtesy Lehigh Sports)

Father and son coaching duo leads Lehigh softball


Father and son coaching duo Fran and Dave Troyan have spent the past two years cultivating a cohesive environment for Lehigh softball. 

Dave Troyan, ’20, previously held a team manager role as an undergraduate at Lehigh. His dad decided to hire him as part of the coaching staff after he graduated.

Dave Troyan, who serves as a NCAA Division I women’s basketball referee in addition to his role as volunteer assistant coach, has been a part of the team during a run in which the team has won nearly 70% of their games.

Fran Troyan has been head coach of the softball program for the past 28 seasons, where he has won 15 Patriot League Championships and seven Patriot League Coach of the Year awards.

Both Dave Troyan and volunteer assistant coach Kyle Stinner, who works full time as an AP calculus teacher at Parkland High School in Allentown, were away for most of the team’s road games at the start of this season. Dave Troyan said they had to coordinate their schedules to ensure one assistant was always around while they balanced their other commitments.

Following the team’s April 2 doubleheader win against Bucknell, Dave Troyan said he was just there “to keep the team sane.” Fran Troyan disagreed — he said his son was being modest and selling his contribution to the team short.

Fran Troyan said Dave Troyan’s experience as a referee has helped the team bounce back from mistakes — just as players need to rebound from bad plays, referees need to rebound from audience backlash to unpopular calls.

“If you think about a referee, they’re making a couple hundred decisions a game,” Fran Troyan said. “If you make a bad decision, you can’t live in that moment, and it’s the same way in softball.”

Fran Troyan likens their practice environment to that of a classroom. 

“We’re coaches, but we’re teachers,” Troyan said. “We’re trying to help them become the best version of themselves in every way.”

In the father-son duo’s first season coaching together, Lehigh won the 2022 Patriot League Championship, defeating Boston University in two games. 

After claiming the title, the two traveled to Seattle, Washington, for the first round of the NCAA tournament, where Lehigh finished with one win in three games, an experience Dave Troyan described as “an awesome opportunity.”

This season, Dave Troyan has helped organize a defense that has given up the second-lowest runs in the league. Lehigh ranks first in the Patriot League with a 27-6 record and a 6-0 conference record.

Dave Troyan, in his second year of coaching, is among a young staff. Dave Troyan, Stinner and pitching coach Pattie Ruth Taylor all entered new roles ahead of the 2022 season. 

Stinner said they are still learning from Fran Troyan’s expertise.

Working alongside Fran Troyan, Stinner said he has witnessed the coaching staff gel together since he started. 

Stinner said Fran Troyan’s openness to new ideas allows the coaching staff to have the flexibility that drives the team forward.

“From the first moment I’ve been a part of the staff, he has trusted me and the rest of the coaching staff,” Stinner said. “He doesn’t try to manage us in a way of telling us what to do.”

The team has won 10 of their last 11 games. During their winning run, the team’s defense allowed two or fewer runs in six games.

Several important games in the season remain, as Lehigh will face four more conference opponents: Colgate, Army, Holy Cross and Bucknell.

“We’re just trying to make the program better every single day,” Dave Troyan said.

Lehigh softball will play next on April 7 against Seton Hall at Leadership Park.

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