After having nearly missed his flight because of a snowstorm for the camp, Swope just missed another snowstorm on his drive down to the Sunshine state. Swope said he sure did pick a good winter to miss out on this year and felt especially lucky when his wife Ann would call to talk of all the snow shoveling she had had to do, whilst he was gazing at the beautiful, palm tree lined Clearwater Beach.
Swope is no stranger to Clearwater Beach, as for many years he and Ann would fly down for a long weekend every Spring to see some games. It was during one of these trips that mere chance and Hokie Pride would set Swope’s childhood dreams in motion.
Five years ago, he was down in Clearwater sporting a Virginia Tech hat when a man on a golf cart swerved around to speak to the fellow Hokie. He told the golf cart man that it was a dream of his to come down one day and work as an usher for the Phillies and the guy responded that he just so happened to be the guy who hires those ushers. So when Swope retired, he called him up and was hired for the job. Ann took him down there and helped him move into his condo. “It was like my mom helping me set up my dorm room,” he said. After he moved in, he had an orientation meeting “and the rest was history,” he said.
This six week journey was the longest time Swope had spent away from Colonial Beach since he was away at college, and he was pleased to find that he found a little bit of the Colonial Beach atmosphere in Clearwater. “It almost became like Colonial Beach to me. People would see me and wave. I was always running into people all over the island that I had met.”
It was these new friends and relationships formed that he said helped to make this experience so incredible.