Swindall steps down

By Staff
Mike Self, FCT Sports Editor
Two months of speculation about Perry Swindall's future at Russellville High School ended Thursday afternoon when the highly successful head football coach resigned after nine seasons and 99 career wins with the Golden Tigers, citing a need to 'recharge his batteries and get refocused.'
Swindall announced his decision at a small press conference while seated next to RHS principal Rex Mayfield and superintendent Dr. Wayne Ray, who said that the search for a new coach will begin immediately.
Rumors had run rampant about Swindall's imminent departure since early December.
"I would like to announce at this time that I am stepping down from the head football coach and athletic director positions at Russellville High School, effective June 30, 2007," Swindall said in a prepared statement that can be read in its entirety on page 7 of today's paper. "I feel that it is time for a change, not only for me in my career but also for Russellville High."
Swindall leaves Russellville after averaging 11 wins per season from 1998-2006. He compiled a 99-21 record (.825 winning percentage) and guided the Golden Tigers to the Class 5A state finals three straight years from 2002-04. Russellville has won six consecutive Region 8 championships, winning 42 straight games in region play.
At the end of this past season, Swindall sat down with Ray to discuss his future.
"Coach Swindall and I have discussed his status at season's end for the past three or four years," Ray said. "When you have a tremendous record like he has had each and every season, you get offered numerous jobs. This year was no different. We sat down to discuss and evaluate the program.
"When a coach puts together a winning streak like Coach Swindall has, there's a lot of pressure involved. The coach has to decide for himself how to handle that."
Swindall rejected the notion that he is burned out, but he did address the rigors of the coaching profession in his statement.
"Coaching is an extremely rewarding but also arduous profession, one that can quickly tire and burn out many people who work at it as hard as I have," said Swindall, who has been a high school head coach for 18 years. "I believe that by stepping down now I may possibly recharge my batteries, get refocused and hopefully find new and equally rewarding goals for myself and family."
Swindall said the door is still open for him to return to coaching as soon as next season.
"I've had three different offers for coaching positions, two of which I am considering," he said. "I've also been approached about a couple of business opportunities, or I could remain at Russellville and teach history. I have a lot of options to think about."
Swindall, whose oldest son Evan is a starting offensive lineman for the Golden Tigers and whose younger son Joseph plays on the middle school team, said there was no scenario in which he might have returned for a 10th season at Russellville.
"I don't think so. This wasn't a decision I just came to Monday morning," Swindall said.
"This is something I've been thinking about for at least a couple of years. Now just seems like the right time to make a change. If you stay one more year because your son's about to be a junior, then you have to stay another year when he's a senior. Then you have to stay a few more years because your other son is on his way up. When does it end?"
Swindall said that his biggest regret about his tenure at Russellville relates to the public perception of him as a coach who cares only about winning football games.
"Academics has always been paramount to me," Swindall said. "I've always said that winning games is a byproduct of helping kids, and I truly believe that. That's what I'm most proud of, the fact that we helped make a difference in so many kids' lives."
Ray and Mayfield both thanked Swindall for his contributions to the program.
"We want to express our appreciation to Coach Swindall for the work he put in with our players and for taking the program to a new level over the past nine years," Ray said. "His record speaks for itself. We wish him all the best in the future, and if we can assist him in anyway we would be more than happy to do that."
Ray said the vacant coaching position will be posted immediately. Swindall's successor will certainly have big shoes to fill.
"We're looking for somebody with head coaching experience," Ray said. "I don't think the caliber of coaches we're looking at will be intimidated by high expectations. I think the facilities here and the support from the program and the community make this an attractive job. Plus, it pays pretty well."