Greenville University Men’s Soccer Coach Chris Swift is something special to the program. In his couple of seasons serving as the head coach, he has achieved many things on the soccer field. The soccer program has worked really hard over the years to build the program on the foundation of character development, spiritual formation, academic excellence, and athletic excellence. GU is consistently competing for championships on the field, and while they have earned the United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award 7 years in a row (the only 7 in program history), they are constantly trying to impact the players as they grow into young men. In 2013, Coach Swift came to Greenville University to be a coach for the men’s soccer team. Jeff Wardlaw, the women’s head coach, and Coach Swift had a mutual friend. Basically, that friend got the two of them in contact, and the process moved pretty quickly from there.
Coach Swift explains how he had always loved the game of soccer. He grew up playing soccer and played his college soccer at Vanguard University, which is an NAIA school in southern California. Ever since he started playing soccer, he fell in the love with the game. He says, “I’m living a dream to be able to make a living from being involved in the sport I love.” Emotions build about the game of soccer because of his passion and love for the game. Coach Swift said, “I have the opportunity to use the game of soccer to help our players grow as men while they get the opportunity to get a college education and play the game at the same time. This experience is a blessing, and that is why I do this job.” Key components for Coach Swift is that coaching is about building relationships with the players. After that piece, then comes the main soccer side of things. What he has learned the past 2 seasons here at Greenville is that, at the college level, the fitness/physical component of the game is so important. He says that the team struggled with a lot of injuries this year, and they are going to have to change what they’re doing from a physical fitness standpoint to try and keep the guys healthy and strong throughout the season.
For Greenville, there are many international students who happen to play for the soccer team. Although it can be difficult to coach international students, he explained, “ I wouldn’t say it’s hard coaching international students. Every player, regardless of where they are from, comes with their own identity within the game of soccer, and the challenge is always to get a group of players on the same page and pulling in the same direction. I really enjoy being able to work with all the different ‘soccer cultures’ that exist within our program to try and combine them into a ‘Greenville soccer culture.’”
Media by Paul Garrett.