Swain giving Vikes a makeoverPublished 9:06pm Tuesday, March 26, 2013
PLYMOUTH — A framed No. 23 East Carolina jersey and some past and present baseball memorabilia did their best to dress up the otherwise bare wooden walls of Plymouth first-year coach Alan Swain’s new field house/office, but it could not hide the fact that it is under construction.
The same could be said for his Vikings.
On certain nights the rookie coach looks on as his players execute what they have learned in practice to precession. Other nights, it’s as if they never heard a word.
Swain, a Washington High School graduate and 2006 Washington Daily News Pitcher of the Year, knew the deal when he accepted the job. Plymouth’s a football/basketball school. But, like his field house, he’s looking to give the school’s perception a makeover.
“When people think of Plymouth they think of basketball and football,” Swain said. “… I told them that when people play us and see Plymouth on the schedule they see a win. They come here or we go there and they expect to get a win. It’s hard to beat a team when they have that much confidence, but we’re taking the underdog approach and rallying around it.”
Swain knows a bit about being an underdog. As a pitcher for the Pam Pack, the left-hander was not blessed with an out-of-this-world fastball but was able to get hitters out by out-thinking them.
Upon graduation in 2006, Swain went on to play for Craven Community College as well as Lenoir CC. Like any athlete that goes the JUCO route, Swain was hoping to wow for two years before attracting Div. I offers. However, his baseball career was thrown the proverbial curve.
“I wanted that D-I spot somewhere. I really wanted to play for ECU but I didn’t have the numbers at Lenoir that I wanted. It just didn’t work out,” Swain said.
As Swain’s playing career tired out the baseball gods called for a double switch, yanking away his hopes of a Div. I offer but replacing it with the desire to coach and a spot on East Carolina’s club team.
It was a good call.
Swain went on to star on the Pirates club team, winning the NCBA World Series, and honed his coaching skills by managing Washington rec teams.
It was on that club team that Swain met his biggest baseball influence to date.
“It’s definitely Joe Caracci, my club coach. I talk to him on a regular basis,” Swain said. “All the system stuff we do here I got from him. He’s the main one I get my system from. If I need advice I call him or (Plymouth football coach Robert) Cody.”
Swain forged his relationship with Cody this year as he took on the role of quarterbacks coach despite not having played a down since middle school. However, lessons are always there to be learned for those that look for it. During the fall the Vikings football team marched its way to a NCHSAA 1-A state championship and during that run Swain learned the value of patience.
“Coaching in the past I have always been kind of riled up. If something bad happened I would yell,” Swain said. “But, I would watch Coach Cody and he never yells during practice. He’ll yell during the game when a guy misses a block or something like that but he never really gets in a guy’s face or talks down to them. He’s real relaxed and makes it a fun atmosphere. I’ve learned that from him. I asked him one time how come he never really gets angry and he just said he’s past all that.”
Like his field house, Swain’s coaching career still has plenty of additions to be made, but it appears to be standing on a solid foundation.