The time was right, not only for Tom Swittel, but for Brookfield East as well.
When Sal Logue resigned after two years as the Spartans' coach last spring, Corey Golla, East director of activities and athletics, needed to act quickly to find a football coach.
After some serious soul-searching, Swittel, the long-time Wauwatosa East head coach, threw his hat into the ring, and Golla caught it.
Swittel took over a team that was 4-14 overall and 1-13 in the Greater Metro Conference the previous two seasons. In fact, the Spartans were 18-36 overall and 9-33 in the GMC the past six seasons.
All he did was lead the Spartans to second place in the conference with a 6-1 record, while finishing 9-2 overall, which included a 1-1 record in the post-season, the first time East made the playoffs since 2003.
As a result, Swittel earned the NOW Newspapers Coach of the Year Award, for the second time in the last four years (2007).
"Football is a team sport, so individual awards seem rather odd to me," Swittel said. "It made me think maybe we really did have a special season. You get awards like that when things go well. Then I started to think why things went well."
The answers were simple for Swittel - his players and his coaching staff.
"The players bought into what we're doing and they worked extremely hard. They did everything I asked them to do."
Swittel's staff was a nice mixture.
"Some of the guys I brought in were guys I coached with or against and I really respected as coaches," he said. "Marc Johannes, Craig Klumb and Ben Veit are guys I've known through the years.
"I also brought in people who had ties to the East program like Jon Lehman and George Furey, (who) were retained from Sal's staff; and Ben Farley and Brendan Gonring, East grads who care an awful lot about the football program."
Swittel has lived in Brookfield with his wife, Ingrid, daughter, Taylor, a junior at East, and T.C., a seventh-grader, who is involved with the Jr. Spartans.
"His name had been circulating for a few years since he lived in the community," Golla said. "The first time after Joe Sciortino resigned after the 2007 season. This time it made more sense for him.
"With his son playing youth baseball and youth football, his daughter's an athlete in cross country and soccer. He's been out there in our community."
Although his senior class was small, Swittel was quick to share the credit with them.
"All 14 seniors did a great job," he said. "They wanted it as bad as I did. They rubbed off on the team as much as I did."
When asked about his goals before the season, he said he wanted his team to be competitive going into the fourth quarter of every game.
"I told them I would put them in a position to win games," he said, "but they would have to win them."
PLAYERS ON SWITTEL
C.J. Gregg - "He made us believe and we bought into the program. He said, 'Don't make excuses, be coachable, believe in what we're doing.' "
Klaus Speder - "When he said we were going to make the playoffs, I said 'No way, no way.' It's been two years and we had horrible seasons. But he changed the whole system. He made it more disciplined, and everyone wanted to be a part of it."
Nick Tongas - "He was open to ideas and everyone was open to him. He tries to get everyone involved."
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- Late rally lifts Brookfield East past Franklin boys, 64-61, in season opener
- Brookfield East girls open with two blowout losses
- Busch steps up in Brookfield Central Lancers opening 51-29 win
- Brookfield East basketball boys have depth, experience returning
- Brookfield Central's Wandrey sees intangibles as strength
- Brookfield Central girls cross country had outstanding season
- Brookfield East boys volleyball coach will miss senior class
- Brookfield Central football coach Jed Kennedy is impressed with team's resiliency
- Brookfield East gridders go back to the basics
- Elmbrook Swim Club: Nov. 20