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Charles Auto Family’s Getting to Know: Mogadore boys basketball coach Russ Swartz

Charles Auto Family’s Getting to Know: Mogadore boys basketball coach Russ Swartz


By Tom Nader

Publisher and Editor


The “Getting to Know” series is designed to help the community learn more about the coaches and administrators that are guiding today’s Portage County student-athletes to be tomorrow’s leaders.

Today, we get to know Mogadore High School boys basketball coach and high school principal Russ Swartz, who is in his 35th year coaching and his 15th season leading the Wildcats.


Q: What schools did you attend growing up?

A: O.H. Somers Elementary and Mogadore Junior/Senior High School (Class of 1981). Played basketball, baseball, football and golf for the Wildcats. Earned 10 varsity letters.


Q: College?

A: Hiram College (Class of 1986) with a Bachelor’s Degree in health and physical education; Master’s Degree in administration and physical education from the University of Akron in 1988.


Q: Current occupation?

A: Currently in my 15th year as principal and basketball coach at Mogadore and in my 35th year in education and as a head basketball coach.


Q: What inspired you to be a coach?

A: Our dad was a teacher and coach, so we were in a gym and exposed to athletics at an early age. I always enjoyed playing athletics, and I knew when my playing days were over, I wanted to stay involved in basketball and hopefully make a difference to young athletes.

Russ Swartz in 1993 as coach of the Southeast Pirates boys basketball team.

Q: What makes being a coach at Mogadore special to you?

A: It’s special because I grew up here, live here and graduated from here. Because of that, I have always been committed to making this one of the best basketball programs in the area. I want our players to experience the championship successes we did as players. Also, having the opportunity to coach my son Lukas during his successful high-school career. I would not trade that for anything.


Q: Who has been your biggest influence/mentor?

A: There are multiple people. My dad because of him exposing us to athletics, especially basketball, at an early age. And Bob Huggins. I was a graduate assistant for him from 1986-88 at the University of Akron. Needless to say, a lot of what we continue to do stems from his influence. Finally, my college coach at Hiram, Bill Hollinger.

Q: Favorite TV show?

A: Current favorite is Yellowstone.


Q: Favorite movie?

A: Hoosiers.


Q: Favorite musical artist?

A: John Denver because of the song “Country Roads Take Me Home,” because I am a West Virginia Mountaineer fan.


Q: Favorite food/meal?

A: Prime rib dinner or any kind of pasta.


Q: Best vacation?

A: Every year we go to Myrtle Beach with family and friends.


Q: Favorite motto or quote?

A: “You do in life what is important to you.”

“There are two types of people: Rule followers and rule breakers. Which are you goin gto be?”

“It’s harder to play for us than against us.”


Q: Describe your coaching philosophy?

A: Intense and demanding.


Q: What does it mean to you to be a Wildcats student-athlete?

A: It means you are held to a higher standard than most and there will be things throughout your career that will be demanded of you because winning is hard. If you work hard as an individual, you and your teammates will experience success and championships along the way.


Q: Favorite restaurant?

A: Luigi’s and The Ido.


Q: Favorite teacher from high school?

A: Mary Ann Smith (English). The best part about this is when I took the principal’s job at Mogadore, she was still on staff as a librarian, so I went from her student to her boss.


Q: Advice you would give the younger version of you?

A: Calm the hell down. My wife gave me that sign many years ago and it is still displayed in our house. Also, enjoy the wins more because it is hard to maintain a high level of success over a long period of time. And don’t take the losses so hard.


Q: Favorite coach from your playing days?

A: Bill Hollinger from Hiram College. He believed in me and trusted me as a player. We won a league championship in 1984, which is the last men’s basketball championship they have had.


Q: Coaching resume?

A: Southeast High School (1988-1994): Two league championships, two sectional championships, 68-61 overall record.

Norton High School (1994-2008): Four second-place finishes in the Suburban League and Portage Trail Conference, 2 sectional championships, 154-145 overall record.

Mogadore High School (2008-present): Seven league championships, four second-place finishes, 11 sectional championships, three district championships, one Elite Eight tournament finish, 241-104 overall record.


Q: Favorite sports team?

A: Cleveland Cavaliers.


Q: Favorite athlete then?

A: Larry Bird, but also Michael Jordan because of his competitive drive.


Q: Favorite athlete now?

A: Probably Tom Brady because of his success for such a long period of time. Also, Kevin Love because of the work he does with mental health.


Q: First job as a teenager?

A: Cutting grass at the golf course in Mogadore.


Q: Shoutout to former teammates?

A: Obviously, my brother Rod, Tom Pollock, Steve Lutz (I see these guys about every day), and Dave Kellar, who continues to be a supporter of Mogadore basketball.

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