Sunday , June 18, 2017 - 5:00 AM
PLEASANT VIEW — Jan Swift has a talent for teaching himself how to do hard things.
He built his first two houses despite no significant construction experience. He simply read books and walked around to see how other houses were built.
Swift now works for a construction company that does custom work on homes. Board and batten siding, shiplap, built-in bunk beds, fireplaces, grid ceilings; Swift could probably host his own DIY television show with all that he knows how to do — all that he’s taught himself how to do.
Not long after Swift started working in construction, he decided to teach himself how to do something else – coach soccer.
Swift’s oldest son, Jason, was eight years old, and the head coach of his AYSO team decided it was time to move on. Swift said the coach approached him and said, “it’s your turn.”
Swift didn’t play soccer in high school and said his knowledge of the game was “very little” when the challenge was presented to him. But just as he did when he built his homes, he taught himself. He watched videos, read books and got his coaching licenses.
Eventually he took over the club team his daughter, Kelci, was playing on. It was a woeful squad that Swift said was mired at the bottom of the district standings. In Swift’s first year, the team won district and was moved all the way up to Division II, just one classification rung below the top level. The team immediately won that division and moved up to Division I.
Swift became the junior varsity boys soccer coach at Weber High School in 2003 and the head varsity coach in 2008. This past season, the Warriors did something they hadn’t done since Ronald Reagan was president – they repeated as region champion.
Swift, who has been named the 2017 All-Area Boys Soccer Coach of the Year, has a pretty simple formula for success.
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“I think it just depends on your commitment and determination and what you want to do,” Swift said. “Whether it’s building a house or coaching young men to play the game, I think it’s just your commitment and what you want to do.”
Nobody can say Swift isn’t committed to Weber High soccer. Every morning he wakes up at about 3:30 or 4 o’clock for his construction job. He says he has only had two Saturdays off since February and that he works 45-50 hours a week, not including his soccer coaching responsibilities.
Yet he continues to coach. He coaches even though he doesn’t have any children in the program and even though he knows he won’t please every player or parent with his decisions.
“I just love to coach the kids,” Swift said. “That’s what I’m here for.”
Swift coaches with calmness, according to his second son, Garrett, who tallied 12 goals and 18 assists to help lead Weber to its first and only boys soccer state title in 2004.
“He doesn’t yell much from the sideline, but he’ll pull the player off and help talk to them and tell them what he sees on the field, what they did well and what they need to work on,” Garrett said.
Garrett coached alongside his father in the Weber High program from 2008-14 and now coaches a club team. He said his coaching philosophy mirrors his father’s.
“I picked that up from him,” Garrett said.
Alan Ferrin, whose sons, Braxton and Bryson, were starters on Weber’s back line this past season, had no shortage of positive things to say about Swift. He said his sons have enjoyed playing for him and complimented Swift for his integrity.
“Jan Swift doesn't get caught up in the politics of youth sports,” he said. “My boys both gave up high school basketball because of the politics.
“Jan doesn’t care what comp team your son plays for, how much money you donate to the program, or what your last name is. He’s going to put the best 11 out on the pitch and he doesn’t care if it upsets parents or players.”
He also praised Swift for his ability to consistently merge players from various competitive levels into a cohesive unit and help them become leaders.
“I honestly worried at the start of the season how well Weber would do this year knowing that there were a lot of holes on the team in competitive talent,” Ferrin said. “However, as Jan seems to do year in and year out, he rallied the troops and put together a pretty successful season.”
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