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Woodbury boys basketball head coach and Willmar native Scott Swansson talks with players this season during a game against Roseville. The coach wrapped up his coaching career last week. Photo via Forum News Service

Boys basketball: Willmar native Swansson ends 35-year career as Woodbury coach

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Boys basketball: Willmar native Swansson ends 35-year career as Woodbury coach
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

By Mike Longaecker

Forum News Service

WOODBURY — No tears.

That’s what Scott Swansson predicted and what he delivered after his final game for the Royals. The Woodbury High School basketball coach met his final game — a 90-78 loss March 5 in the Section 4AAAA finals to Tartan — with the stoicism that has marked his 35-year career.

“I’ll miss it,” Swansson said about his coaching career after the game. “I think there will be a transition period, but I think it’s time for somebody else to do it.”

He retires this year from Woodbury High School, where he compiled a 240-165 record as head coach of the Royals’ boys basketball program.

“The things that he has brought to the program, the school and the community have been tremendous,” Woodbury High School Activities Director Jason Gonnion said of Swansson, who was Minnesota’s boys basketball Coach of the Year in 2012.

He said the school will be posting the job opening soon and hopes to have Swansson’s successor named in the spring.

“We’re hoping that with the tradition of Woodbury basketball, that we’ll have a lot of interest,” Gonnion said. “We’ll be moving on it right away.”

Swansson, a native of Willmar and a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College, was an assistant coach under Woodbury coaching legend Del Schiffler. Last winter, Swansson won his fourth section championship and reached the state tournament for the fourth time in his tenure as head coach. Woodbury also reached the state tournament in 2006, 2007 and 2012 under Swansson.

In addition to coaching basketball, he also has been a longtime assistant football and baseball coach for the Royals.

Those who spent time around Swansson said he’ll leave a legacy of hard work and respect.

“We all came a long way since freshman year,” said senior guard Matt Ambriz. “That’s all because of him.”

Teammate Isaiah Coddon said he learned much about the game through Swansson.

“He’s a good teacher,” the senior forward said. “He taught us a lot of good stuff.”

Minutes after walking off the court for the last time as head basketball coach for Woodbury, Swansson said he felt nothing but gratitude for the experience.

“I really appreciate the people in Woodbury,” he said. “It was an honor to be able to coach at Woodbury for so many years and to be part of so many great athletes and students who came through.”

Gonnion said Swansson’s impact on the school’s basketball program has been “tremendous.”

“We hope that he enjoys his retirement and that he doesn’t get too far from Woodbury sports,” Gonnion said.

For now, Swansson plans to enjoy a freedom from coaching-related responsibilities that have locked down months at a time for him.

But maybe not forever.

“When I get sick and tired of being sick and tired, then I might come back and do something,” he said.

Mike Longaecker
Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker
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