Swasey Teaches More Than Lifting Weights

The University of Miami has built a strong reputation and tradition with players returning to campus after their Hurricane days are over. The coaching staff builds strong relationships with the players by creating a family atmosphere and showing tough love in order to get the most out of the players. In the weight room head strength and conditioning coach Andreu Swasey teaches life skills that not only helps them become great players, but great individuals.

Some of the players that come back to workout and meet with current players are Edgerrin James, Santana Moss, Reggie Wayne, Clinton Portis, and Andre Johnson. James started the trend of coming back. He was the first one to come back and share his NFL experiences with the current Hurricanes. Although there were a number of solid NFL players before James, they did not come around after they finished at Miami. Only recently has there been a strong unity between Hurricane players.

Why are they coming back? Why do guys have come back just to workout for a week? Why does James give so much money to the university? Why?

"As a staff and as a program we are trying to get more people to come back," Swasey said. "You just have to care. If you learn to care and be genuine through your heart you don't have to ask for anything. They are going to come back because it is a place of home."

"When you go away to college, what is the first thing you do? You go to the places you remember the most, that were dear to you. You go home and meet up with your closest friends. This is how they do it. They feel this is home. They feel a lot of their success was built here."

Creating a place of home is easier said than done. There has to be a strong connection and bond established.

"You don't make a home by talking ‘home', you make a home by actions. For every action there is a reaction. Guys come back because of relationships built here. They come around here because it keeps them hungry to understand great hard work. Here they can be themselves and will be judged equally. When you come here you aren't going to get preferential treatment. You are going to get told, ‘shut up, sit down, make sure you wear this, and do that.' I think it helps. People want structure."

Structure and organization are two constant qualities within the University of Miami program. But it is the discipline and tough love showed by Swasey and the coaching staff helps mold these players into solid individuals. A mold the NFL loves.

Swasey shows tough love in the weight room and the practice field. His motto ‘action and reaction' holds true in the way he goes about his teachings. The process of life lessons learned will help the players long after their playing days are over. There are not many coaches in the country with the ability to connect with the players the way Swasey does. Coaching clinics and years of coaching experience do not mean you will be successful. You have to care. For Swasey, it is not a problem.

"I believe this in life, people don't want to die alone. We will. We will all die alone and have our own time to die. On this time on earth you would like to share things people. It is just part of life. We are emotional beings. So these kids are going to come back where they feel liked and loved, tough love. Having me tell you right from wrong and telling you this is what you have to do and why you have to do it, instead of being a friend. I am trying to be more than a friend. I am trying to make sure you do the right things in life and I care enough about you in life to tell you. That is something you cant just teach over night. You show it through your actions day in and day out."

Swasey, admitting he doesn't share his philosophies very often, believes to win in life, you must win with life skills. The players sometimes joke around with him because of his constant philosophies begin with, ‘in life…'

Life is what it is all about, isn't it? The players play a game and the coaches coach a game, but it is all about life.

"Here in the weight room it is life lessons learned. I teach them to be responsible with their actions, their classes, respect, communication, and the ability to listen. Some kids come in here and don't listen. How can we teach them anything if they already know everything?"

"I tell them, ‘you have two ears and one mouth. Listen ten times more than you talk. So listen to what I am trying to tell you. You don't know everything.' Some of these kids have big egos and don't want to listen."

According to Swasey, time management skills are other imperative skills needed in order to be successful. He sets his watch 15 minutes ahead of the normal time. The players know and understand when they work out they go by ‘Swasey Time' and not by their time.

How does he get all of the players to understand ‘Swasey Time?' Easy. Don't follow the rules, show up late, don't workout hard and you will find yourself passed by. The players know this and if they don't, they find out soon. The hard way.

"I tell them not to get so caught up into things. They learn it is not about them. I tell them--football is not about you. This team will not be successful with just one guy. It takes a whole team to be good. You have to commit and listen to what the coaches are telling you. And you have to be a dummy not to see what we've done here and not listen."

The Miami Hurricanes exemplify team unity and a team atmosphere. Their success on the field is unprecedented and good things are in store for the program in the future. The coaching staff has a solid balance of chemistry and with coach Swasey teaching life skills, the program is in the right hands.

"Anything in life is what you make of it," Swasey concluded.

"What you decide to put into life, you will be rewarded."

Tomorrow - Part 3: "Inside the Weight Room: Offense"

Christopher Stock is a Staff Columnist for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at stock@grassy.com.

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