The Post-Journal

Sherman Hoops Coach Honored

Swanson Recognized By National Organization


Sherman girls basketball coach Mel Swanson has received a national honor and might have another on the way.

Mel Swanson
Mel Swanson

The National Federation of State High School Associations has named Swanson as the New York girls basketball coach of the year. And now he's in the running to be the overall national coach of the year, which will be announced next month.

''I had no idea,'' Swanson said. ''I knew they did one for the state, but I had no idea I was going to be the one this year. I guess the longer you do these kinds of things, the more you're apt to have one of those.''

Swanson began coaching girls varsity basketball at Sherman in 1978-79.

''I was really surprised,'' Swanson said. ''Over the years the wins have been mounting up and I don't know where in the state that stands as far as girls basketball.''

His varsity girls basketball coaching record is 570-206, but there's more. He has also coached junior varsity girls basketball for three years with a 26-10 record and his middle school record is 304-136.

Swanson has also coached boys basketball and was 32-12 at the varsity level, 87-39 in junior varsity and 24-24 in middle school.

In all, his basketball coaching record is 1,043-427.

As for his girls varsity record, Swanson said, ''We've had some pretty-darn good kids over the years and we've been consistent. We haven't been out of it for a long time. We haven't been the favorite to win each year, but we've at least been in the mix to hold our own.''

His girls varsity teams have won six Section 6 championships, three regional titles, made two state finals appearances and one semifinal appearance.

Not only is state coach of the year quite an accomplishment for Swanson, but also for Sherman. There are 19 coaches listed and Swanson is the only one from a Class D school. And there does not appear to be even a Class C school listed.

''I didn't go down through and check them, but they all look like pretty big-school names to me,'' Swanson said.

It's quite an accomplishment for a coach who was 0-14 in his first season.

''I was pretty frustrated,'' Swanson recalled. ''Playing-wise, I came from a winning program at Panama and I have never experienced not winning a game in a whole season in any level that I played. I knew I was going to a struggling program. They only started (girls) basketball two years before I got the job.''

And the team had also been winless in the previous two seasons.

''I knew when I got them that it could be a struggle,'' Swanson said. ''I just didn't expect that I wouldn't win one game. It was a long year.''

In 1981-82, Sherman was 12-9 and then broke through with a 20-2 season in 1982-83.

''There was a really good group of freshman coming,'' Swanson said. ''Eventually they were a team that we went on and lost in the semis of the state (tournament) back in 1982-83.''

That was the first of nine 20-or-more wins seasons.

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