After one year at the helm of the Payson High School’s boys basketball program, coach Jared Swanson is stepping down.
The former coach submitted his resignation last week, saying he was returning to college to earn a master’s degree and to fulfill his lifetime dream of entering college coaching.
Swanson has chosen to attend Boise State University where he has been offered a job as a type of “graduate assistant,” and his wife, Jessica, can pursue a bachelor’s degree.
“It’s too good an opportunity to pass up,” Swanson said. “I will be getting my foot in the door for a college basketball coaching career.”
He admits that at BSU he will be low man on the coaching totem pole, but says all he’s asking for is a chance to prove what he can do in the profession.
While Swanson is reluctant to declare the turmoil going on in PUSD — including the fact that principal Roy Sandoval, vice principal Tim Fruth, athletic director Jason Lobik and several teachers and coaches were let go — had anything to do with his decision, he willingly expresses his displeasure about those decisions.
Saying he was disappointed with the state of public education in Payson and around the state, he emphasized, “Extracurricular activities are more important in a high school’s student’s growth than many people think.
“I don’t believe that the decisions that have being made (at PHS) follow this way of thinking.”
Swanson went on to laud the three dismissed administrators. “I cannot say enough good things about what they have done in helping me this past year.
“There couldn’t be a high school administration more supportive of its coaches and teachers.”
At one point in his life, the former coach looked upon high school coaching as a career goal. He changed his mind during the past school year, however.
“The way things look, it would be foolhardy to stay in teaching in Payson and Arizona,” he said. “There is no stability in the classroom or athletics.”
Swanson also contends the drastic changes being made in schools and the classroom adversely affect the stability and quality of classroom and extracurricular programs.
In bidding adieu, the coach says he and his wife will miss the many good friends they’ve made during their year in Payson, but promise to “keep in touch with them even though we are moving on.”
Swanson also praised his assistant coaches — Byron Quinlan, Joe Sanchez, Randy Pryor and Scott Novak — for their loyalty and dedication to the program and the welfare of student athletes.
The season and the coach
Swanson was appointed PHS head basketball coach in Nov. of 2009, replacing Kenny Hayes, who had departed to coach collegiate football.
Swanson admits his first season was a bit of a disappointment in that the team suffered through a myriad of injuries and didn’t rack up as many wins as he and the players would have liked.
At one point in the season, Swanson was calling upon two freshmen and several sophomores to carry the varsity load.
Although it is was obviously difficult for fledgling players to compete against older and more experienced opponents, Swanson believes the rookies, “started to understand what it takes to be a successful athlete.
“I can only hope that the new coach will continue to instill the same concepts that I have brought to the program.”
Throughout the season, Swanson built a solid reputation as a knowledgeable basketball coach who demanded accountability from his athletes.
It was also obvious to onlookers and fans that the first-year coach had the respect of fellow coaches, officials and players.
Those in his former home of Australia also considered him a top-notch coach.
“Jared is not only a fine developer of basketballers, but also of men,” said Steve King of Leopold, Victoria.
“He’ll bring an exciting, up-tempo style of play to the team, but they will also be extremely disciplined,” King said of Swanson when he was first hired.
Swanson arrived in Payson with a rich background in basketball, having played four years Down Under as well as on the NCAA Division III level in junior college and high school.
In 2008, Swanson played in the Southern Peninsula Basketball Association in Australia and was named the league MVP and an all-star.
Prior to that, he was an all-star in both the Shepparton and Warrnambool Basketball Associations.
In college from 2001 to 2003, Swanson was an all-conference first team selection at Moorhead, Minn.
From 1998 to 2000, he earned junior college All-American honors at Fergus Falls Community College in Minnesota.
At Morris Area High School, he starred in basketball, football and track and field, earning all-state laurels in each sport.
His coaching experience includes a stint as a head coach in the Country Basketball League in Shepparaton, Victoria, Australia.