Swider reflects on legacy on and off the field

By Cassidy Thornburg

12.13.19

Head football Coach Mike Swider, following a 12-1 final season record and 24 years of leading the Thunder football program, announced his retirement on Tuesday. Coach Swider played football at Wheaton College and graduated in 1977. He served as the defensive coordinator for 11 seasons immediately following, then took over as head coach. In his tenure with the program, Coach Swider led the Thunder to nine CCIW championships, ten NCAA Division III playoff appearances and 140 total conference game wins.

“Coach Swider has invested his life in every young man who has come through this program in the last 35 years,” Athletics Director Julie Davis said in a press release on Wheaton’s website. “He has been driven to make them not only better football players, but better students, brothers, teammates, husbands, fathers and most importantly followers of Jesus. He leads with a passion and commitment that is contagious. His success has helped define not only his program, but the excellence of Wheaton Athletics.”

Coach Swider sat down with the Record to share some parting words for the football team and Wheaton community.

Don’t give up

“Quitting is never the solution to any problem and we have a culture where commitment and staying with things has lost its meaning. The solution to frustration, the solution to things not going our way, or things not happening at the pace we want is to flee, to try something new, and to go in a different direction. Quitting never solves any problem and our players know that. One of the biggest things I can leave with our kids and with students is ‘see it through, stay with it.’”

The difference between a winner and a loser

“Winners are people who see it through, committing to their relationships, faith, jobs, and churches. They are not quitters and they focus on what they have and didn’t deserve rather than what they want and didn’t get. When you pout, whine, and belly-ache, you become a victim, and you become a loser when you look at what you want and didn’t get.

“However, when you focus on what you did get and didn’t deserve, you’re a worker, you’re appreciative and you’re someone that people want to be around. Every single person has something in their life that they have and didn’t deserve, starting with breath — you’re living. We all deserve hell and what do we as Christians get? Heaven.”

“Glory is a bad motivator.”

“Be driven by causes. Be driven by the guy next to you. Don’t be driven by glory, fame, money or accomplishment. People who fight for glory only fight for so long because when they experience personal glory, they’re done. But those who are fighting for causes fight until they die because the cause transcends their death [and personal success].

“I was driven by Wheaton Football for 35 years. I’m leaving, but the cause transcends my leaving. The victories will fade. But the cause of Wheaton Football that I was driven by my entire life? That cause will continue to be a noble cause.”

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