Former Payson High School basketball coach Jared Swanson has taken a gigantic leap toward his career goal of becoming a Division 1 head coach by finishing a graduate assistantship at Boise State University and nailing down a job as director of men’s basketball operations at North Dakota State University.
“This position at NDSU is definitely another step forward in getting a college head coaching job,” said Swanson. “I am definitely enjoying gaining so much valuable experience from great college coaches that I have been associated with over the past couple of years.”
Swanson was the head coach of the boys basketball team at Payson High during the 2009-2010 school year, arriving in Payson after playing professionally in Australia for four years.
He had also served a stint as head coach in the Country Basketball League in Shepparaton, Victoria, Australia.
At Payson High, Swanson’s team got off to a rip-roaring start winning the Cake Chevrolet Shootout, but later in the season injuries took their toll on the Longhorns.
At one point late in the season, Swanson was calling upon two freshmen and several sophomores to shoulder varsity responsibilities.
Even though the undermanned team struggled, Swanson built a solid reputation as a knowledgeable basketball coach who demanded accountability from the athletes.
When submitting his resignation from teaching and coaching at PHS, Swanson told friends and administrators he was returning to college to earn a master’s degree and serve as a graduate assistant coach at Boise State.
After leaving Payson, he spent the 2010-2011 school year at Boise State helping coach a Bronco team that finished 22-13 and came within one win of earning a berth into the NCAA tournament.
“I was very lucky to be involved in all aspects of the program,” said Swanson. “I learned an unbelievable amount about college basketball coaching and what it takes to run a competitive and successful basketball program.”
While at Boise State, the former Longhorn coach earned a master’s degree in athletic administration in just 11 months, an educational process that normally takes about two years.
“It was pretty grueling as I spent many, many hours in the basketball office and then had to take night classes three times a week,” Swanson said. “I’m happy I worked to get it completed in just one year.”
During the year he and his wife Jessica were at BSU, their first child was born, a boy they named Jett.
“Being a parent is already such an amazing experience,” Swanson said.
After completing master’s degree requirements and wrapping up his graduate assistantship, Swanson went in search of a job, but couldn’t find one that was a good fit for him and his family.
After a few frustrating months of job searching, he heard from friends that the director of men’s basketball operations at North Dakota State had resigned, so he eagerly applied for the vacant position.
“NDSU is in Fargo, which is less than 10 miles from Concordia College, where I graduated,” Swanson said. “Also, it is only about two hours from my parents’ home in Morris (Minnesota), where I grew up.”
Swanson admits he never had a desire to return to the Midwest, after having lived in Australia, Washington, Arizona and Idaho, but the job opportunity at NDSU was too enticing to pass up.
In mid-September, university officials offered the job to Swanson and he accepted moving to Fargo on Oct. 1.
“I was very excited to move on to the next stage in my coaching career as well as being excited to stay at the NCAA Division 1 level,” Swanson said.
“The coaching staff here at NDSU is just a great group of guys who have an unbelievable amount of basketball knowledge — I have already learned a lot.”
As director of basketball operations, he is responsible for team travel scheduling, video exchanges and operations, organizing and overseeing summer basketball camps, assisting on-campus recruiting and daily duties in the school’s basketball office.
Swanson also travels nationwide with the team that early this week was in Indianapolis where the Bisons improved to 7-1 with an 84-79 win over the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Jaguars.
“We have a great group of young athletes who have a great deal of potential and are a great group of guys,” Swanson said.
While Swanson’s stay in Payson was brief, he stays in contact with some of the friends he made while here including PHS baseball coach Scott Novack.
He also looks forward to someday returning to Payson to rekindle old times.
“I would love to come back to visit,” he said.
While his focus is now on big time, university level basketball, he continues to follow PHS athletics saying, “I wish all the Longhorn teams best of luck in their respective seasons.”