Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Kevin Haskin: Twister Dovetailed into Schwinn's Coaching Start

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Kevin Haskin: Twister Dovetailed into Schwinn's Coaching Start

Article excerpt

Manuals do not always identify every challenge a coach might face.

Nor do past experiences relayed by mentors in the profession.

Read all the instruction available. Pick the brains of those with experience motivating players. It's all good.

Still, the possibility of picking up the pieces from the rubble left by a tornado a half-mile wide never gets mentioned.

That was how Jeff Schwinn's first season as a high school head coach began in 2008.

The former Kansas State quarterback had accepted the head post at Chapman. That summer, on the evening of June 11, much of the town was leveled by an F-3 twister. For Schwinn, the building project he anticipated as a first-year coach took on a more literal definition.

"The facilities were damaged and there was a rebuilding process we went through," Schwinn said. "Our whole weight room was displaced, and we had to be creative in what we would do.

"Initially, we took all our equipment, cleaned it up and put it in a portable trailer that we took out to where we had to practice. We'd pull that stuff out, work out in the parking lot and do our best to improve in a situation like that."

Eventually school started. Football went on as scheduled. The home opener rallied the community to an event in which everyone could cheer, cry and feel whole again, in spite of heavy damage to Chapman's stadium, which prompted school officials to carefully, and repeatedly, comb the field for debris.

Long before football resumed, players helped with clean-up around town.

Chad Williams moved into Chapman the same year the tornado struck. His father, Trevor, joined Schwinn's football staff and now serves as Chapman's head coach. Chad, meanwhile, is a redshirt junior who plays wide receiver for Washburn.

"Coach Schwinn coped with it really well," Chad recalled. "When we'd do our weightlifting sessions outside, right away players could tell that coach Schwinn was wanting us to do whatever we could with what we were presented.

"He had the football players help out the people around town, too. We met on the field, broke up into groups and went around in trucks. If we saw branches or debris in anyone's yards, we'd help them out. Then we'd go to the next house."

The Irish struggled throughout the three seasons Schwinn was at the helm, going 2-7, 1-8 and 0-9 from 2008-10.

Still, hardships and adversity shape everyone, including coaches. Schwinn hooked on with Washburn and was promoted to offensive coordinator this year after working with the defense and special teams the past three seasons.

"As a quarterback, you understand coverages, so he kind of controlled our coverages," WU coach Craig Schurig said. "That was an easy transition. For five years (at K-State), that's all he looked at, so he brought that idea of what a quarterback is looking at. …

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