By Christine Vanderwater
Charles Swenson has been coaching baseball for 17 years. He has coached bad teams and he has coached mediocre teams at Carnegie Vanguard High School.
But what he seems to be lacking is exceptional teams. As a matter of fact, Carnegie is notorious for having a not-so-great baseball team and an athletic program as a whole because of the school’s rigorous focus on academics.
However, performance has never been Swenson’s priority.
“It’s not about me,” he explained. “It’s about the boys.”
Without the support of their longtime coach, Carnegie’s baseball team would not be what it is today. Sure, their scores are never perfect and they usually get swamped by teams like Bellaire and Lamar, but that is not what counts, players say.
For Swenson, the idea is that boys will respond to the sport by creating in themselves a place where they can bond, create memories and learn a good sport. It is much more about loving the game and building the characters of the teammates, he said.
Senior Francois Lacobie said he joined the team as a way to get his mind off of school work.
“Baseball for me was a time when I could get away from the stress of school,” said Lacobie who has been on the team for three years. “Instead of worrying about precal homework, I could focus on hitting the ball.”
Of course, this does not mean that there is no pressure for the teammates to perform their best and try to win. They just usually are not successful. Even if they were, Swenson said, that is not the focus. His goal is to pass on his values of honesty, respect and love for baseball to his team.
When asked why he participates in Carnegie’s baseball, junior Kyle Frank said simply “I love to play.”
For the baseball team and Coach Swenson, that is enough.