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Spartans find themselves on fast track, literally

Swittel, Steiner help each other out

Oct. 31, 2012

The outstanding success that the Brookfield East boys track and field team has had the past few years has had a first-hand influence on the Spartans football team since Tom Swittel has taken over.

East track coach Mike Steiner has had an incredible run, with back-to-back state championships, while winning three straight triple crowns (indoor, relays, outdoors championships).

Almost 75 percent of Swittel's football team this fall are members of Steiner's track & field teams, running, hurdling, jumping or throwing in the spring.

Swittel has been an excellent supporter of the athletes competing in track, seeing a correlation between success on the football field and kids who compete in track.

"Tom has stood before the team and the parents and has pointed out the value of competing in track," Steiner said, "and how it will equate into better performance on the football field."

Swittel credits former Wauwatosa East football and track coach John Richmond for.

"Everything I do is based on what I learned from John Richmond many, many years ago," Swittel said. "He was also a track coach and he would keep track of all-conference football players. He had about 85 all-conference players who also ran track."

Swittel took a struggling program and finished 9-2 and 7-4 while making the playoffs his first two years. This season has been the Spartans best in history as they won only the second conference title since 1984 and have reached Level 3 in the post-season for the first time in history with a 10-0 record.

The Spartans are 26-6 under Swittel, an amazing .813 win ning percentage.

"It's tough to get kids out for sports where you're busting your butt all the time," Swittel said. "It takes a special kind of kid to handle football and track. There is a work ethic that goes with track. It gets you in shape, makes you faster. Our players can improve in track."

Swittel also appreciates Steiner, a former football coach, pointing his athletes toward football.

"Mike is an old school guy; he's been around," Swittel said. "He appreciates the fact I get guys out for track. Winning is really important, but so is competing, pushing yourself. John LeClaire is a wrestler and a great competitor and a heck of a football player. He doesn't want to lose. He never gives up."

Steiner feels strongly about the part track plays in athlete's development.

"Our success in track is largely a product of multi-sport kids who choose to do track in the spring to help them develop athletically," he said. "There is no doubt in my mind that track will benefit any student-athlete in their physical development."

Steiner credits Swittel and other coaches in the building for helping with their success.

"To be honest with you our success in track is largely dependent on the support we get from other programs," he said. "The majority of kids in our program are multi-sport kids. We've been fortunate to have talented kids the past several years. We coach them up and the system works."

Steiner, having been a former coach, he knows first-hand how track can help a football player.

"There is no better tool for an athlete to prepare for the rigors of football than by competing in track during the spring," he said. "All the necessary skills needed to compete in football are part of what track and field is all about - not only the physical part but the continued development of how to compete, overcoming adversity and above all working together to achieve something great.

"Not only does track enhance athletes' speed, flexibility and explosiveness, I like to think that kids will learn valuable lessons on how to prepare for competition, how to handle pressure and above all see that hard work will translate into success not only individually but as a team."

The Spartans football and track teams are a prime example of that.

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