JACKSBORO—Jason Swiney is hanging up his football cleats for a pair of basketball shoes.
The assistant coach for the Campbell County High School football team is now taking the helm of the Jacksboro Eagles basketball team.
“I’m excited,” Swiney said. “We got started about the last week of school, and we’ve been to a couple camps already. I’m excited to get started. This is a great group of kids we have here and Jacksboro, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to coach them.”
Swiney took the position after Cody Parker took an assistant position with Matt Housley and the Campbell County Cougars.
The new Jacksboro coach says he’ll have a hard time filling those shoes left by the former coach.
“Parker came up and said he was thinking about going to the high school,” Swiney said. “He asked if I was interested. At first, I was a little bit reluctant. I told him that taking over for him would be like taking over for Bobby Knight. Nobody remembers who took over for Bobby Knight at Indiana.”
Parker took the team to the Final Four of the sectional tournament two years ago, while finishing last season in the sectional tournament.
Swiney said there are still heights to reach, however.
“I keep telling these kids that we haven’t gone as far as we can yet,” he said. “We’ve still got some room to improve. That was last year. We’ve got to pick it back up this year. They’ve had some success. Coach Parker has done a good job with them. I can see that in practice with them.”
Swiney said over the past month, he’s been getting to know the players.
The team has played in four scrimmages, going 2-2. They had only two practices before those camps came around.
“It’s been a lot of fun with this group of good kids,” Swiney said. “There’s a lot of talent. Now, it’s just trying to find a spot to put them all in. It’s just trying to find an offense or a defense to put them all in.”
The group he returned is an experienced one, he said.
He said he had tryouts quickly, coming away with 16 players — 10 of those eighth graders.
“I took the job on Monday,” Swiney said. “That following week, I had tryouts. I had about a week to get ready for tryouts. It’s been quick. I kept my numbers low going into the summer, so I could really focus on the core group of 16 that I kept.”
Swiney said he just wished he had more time.
The dead period will start next week, meaning no practices for his team.
“This summer, we’ve got a lot done,” Swiney said. “This is our last week before the dead period. We’ve got a lot accomplished, and we’ve started to get some stuff put in.”
Swiney has coached basketball in North Carolina and at Norris Middle School.
However, he said right now, the Jacksboro team is a growing process.
He’s just glad his team has grown in size.
“They hit their growth spurts at the right time coming out of seventh grade,” he said with a laugh.