Award-winning coach to hang his whistle

Posted on Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 10:17 pm

A Northern Neck Sports Wall of Fame inductee and longtime coach at Colonial Beach is retiring after this baseball season. Having been inducted into one of the area’s most prestigious, Steve Swope will be retiring from education and coaching high school sports.

For the past 34 years, Swope has become one of the iconic faces in local education and sports Colonial

A Northern Neck Sports Wall of Fame inductee and longtime coach at Colonial Beach is retiring after this baseball season. Having been inducted into one of the area’s most prestigious, Steve Swope will be retiring from education and coaching high school sports.

Beach Public Schools. By no way did Swope come up with the decision immediately. He said he flirted with the idea four years ago, but he thought this was the right time.

“In the month of January this year I just woke up and said I think this is time,” Swope said. “It kind of hit me and I’m really looking forward to my last year…it’s just time and I have other dreams and hope to chase them.”

Swope has seen players, teachers, administrators come and go. One of his fondest administrators was former superintendent Don Warner, and favorite group are the kids.

“Dr. Warner instilled in me long ago as the greatest superintendent here in school history what Drifter pride was,” Swope said.  I’ve tried to push that Drifter pride and everyday I go to work I say a little tribute to him.”

“I probably wouldn’t still be able to coach if I couldn’t mold these kids from kindergarten…so I’ve built a bond with them,” Swope added. “I love all these kids like they are my family. When you have that its special and allows you to wake up every morning and fulfill your dreams.”

Swope said he is also pleased to leave in such a time as it is for local athletes as pro basketball player Chris Johnson, collegiate basketball players Dylan Farinet and Tristan Carey and pro football player Torrey Smith.

“It’s exciting to think you have given a little piece of what you have given to some of these students in their lives to watch them blossom and grow into the next level and be so successful. I just beam everyday when I’m talking about these kids. I’m just so proud of them and that they represent Colonial Beach.”

One of the most captivating moments of Swope’s coaching tenure was helping to bring the school its first state championship in boys basketball in 2009. It was after that time he was inducted into the Northern Neck Sports Wall of Fame located in Kilmarnock. This followed with Swope taking a one year sabbatical from coaching.

As for coming back to coaching, Swope said it has been the kids that encouraged him to coach and teach. Jokingly his kids told him not to leave when the idea of retiring came about.

“They always talked about ‘don’t retire on me’ and ‘make sure you’re there for us’,” Swope said. “But it’s a unique group. I’ve tried to honor their request on that.”

Upon his return he eventually turned the basketball duties over to assistant coach Jonathan Parker after 30 seasons. After catching some time to consider leaving, Swope said he decided to return after a bit of rest. Eventually the vacancy for the athletic director position became attractive to him.

“I tried to do it to the best of my ability,” Swope said. “It’s been a challenge and really does entail some of your personal life to give to every program…but when you got Drifer blood flowing through your veins you do whatever it takes for your school and your community.”

Swope said after the year is done, he plans to work with favorite major league baseball team the Philadelphia Phillies for two months during the spring. He said he was offered the invitation by a fellow Virginia Tech graduate after attending the Phillies camp since college.

“It’s a dream come true. The good Lord has blessed me a lot with my wife and three sons, and the journey I’ve had here along the way in this town I so love,” Swope said. “But to be able to wrap it up and chase a dream I have, I’m ecstatic.”

Swope said he also plans to give up coordinating the famous basketball and baseball clinics when he retires, but will remain living in the area. He is currently in his second year as the high school athletic director.

“It’s time for the next generation to take over, move in and lead this next group of athletes in Colonial Beach,” Swope said. “I’ve enjoyed my time here, will always cherish it and look forward to the retirement life.”

As the school’s basketball coach, Swope has an overall record of 517 wins and 237 losses in basketball (winning percentage of 68 percent) Swope has been named District Coach of the Year 14 times, Region Coach of the Year, and the Free Lance Star Area Coach of the Year.

Coming into the baseball season, Swope has a record of  479 wins and 222 losses to go along with 11 regular season titles and two regional playoff appearances.

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