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HIGHEST HONOR

Swieter named Class 2A coach of the year

Photo by Julie Vinsand, The Gowrie News: Mike Swieter of Southeast Valley hoists the Class 2A state title trophy in Gowrie during a championship celebration.

GOWRIE — Kolson Kruse and Aaron Graves remember what it was like first working under Mike Swieter as freshmen at Southeast Valley.

Four years later, watching Swieter guide the underclassmen on the scout team evoked an all-too-familiar feeling.

“All the upperclassmen laugh whenever he blows a fuse yelling at the freshmen,” said Kruse, the Class 2A Player of the Year in 2021. “We remember when we were in that position, and it’s funny to see him get upset when they can’t even line up in their correct spot.”

Graves, who will continue his football career at the University of Iowa, knows full well how much Swieter cares for each player.

“Coach Swieter has been a great coach,” Graves said. “We all love him — especially our senior class. I think you have to realize sometimes he yells and gets mad because he cares so much at first. Once you’re a senior, it’s just hilarious to see him yell at a scout team full of freshmen that keep messing up.”

The Jaguars put all the pieces of the puzzle together this past season and earned the school’s first-ever state football championship, beating West Lyon to claim the 2A crown.

Behind every good team is a coach that wants nothing more than what’s best for his squad. Swieter was the guiding force behind the Jaguars, and for the first time in his career, he was named the Iowa Football Coaches Association Class 2A Coach of the Year.

“It’s one of two things as a football coach that defines your season or career,” Swieter said. “First and foremost, you want to win a state championship. Second, you hope to be named Coach of the Year.”

Kruse, who rewrote the school record books behind center after only two seasons at quarterback, was honored to play for Swieter.

“He led with unwavering confidence. That rubbed off on all of us players,” Kruse said. “He never spoke with a doubt in his voice. From day one, he told us we were going to win a state championship. Football is what he lives for, and our coaching staff was never going to be out-prepared going into each game.

“As a player seeing the effort he puts in, you can’t help but give your all for a coach who cares so much about the team and the individuals that make it up.”

Swieter, who is in 21st season overall and eighth since Southeast Valley became a consolidated program, is 133-79 overall. He loved seeing the players come together for one coming goal in 2021.

“Everyone on our team had their own story, and nobody got caught up on the me-me-me side of football,” Swieter said. “Everyone, like Lathe Muench, who was told we needed him to block from the semifinals on to win a state championship, or Aaron Graves, who we needed to put in the middle (rather than defensive end), sacrificed for the one goal we all had: to win a title.”

The school district and the community also rallied behind the Jaguars and are still basking in the glow of the golden November.

“Now that it’s done, I still have people congratulating us for what we did,” Swieter said. “We just got the state state plaque and the rings are coming. We got a sign for the press box. Reality has settled in.

“It seemed like our whole small town community was in Cedar Falls. We brought as many people there as anybody.”

The state championship will always be in the trophy case, but it was the bond Swieter built with his players that will last a lifetime.

“We are around him more than any coach by far, just because of the weight room and we all play disc golf with Coach and his son during the summer,” Graves said. “So we’re all really close with him and love seeing him chuck a frisbee or kick his bag in anger after he has a bad shot.

“We have fun with him too — as much as the football part, where it’s more serious.”

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