|Swinney recounts emotional beginnings as Clemson's head coach|
|by David Hood - Senior Writer - Tuesday, May 14, 2013 9:31 AM||
Professional and collegiate athletes and coaches are heroes, larger-than-life and iconic figures that thrill millions on game days and keep social media and television alive as fans hang on their every move and word.
Fans clamor to have their pictures taken with them; they want to shake their hands; they follow them on social media, all in an attempt to - in some small way - share a piece of that fame and glory.
What is forgotten and is sometimes stunningly brought home to those fans is that these heroes are husbands, fathers, sons, nephews and cousins – real people trying to survive in a real and harsh world like the rest of us.
We see what happens on college football Saturdays with coaches, but we don’t see the father helping with homework, the husband picking up groceries, the sons caring for aging parents. We don’t see the all-too-human side of these public figures, and that’s a shame. At some point – for each and every game and for each and every player and coach – the cheers end. The adulation is put away for another time, and the real-life drama of being that husband and father and son kicks in.
A lot of what the public knows about Clemson’s Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
View Full Profile comes from his interviews, his sideline and post-game persona and the few stolen moments that fans get with the Tigers’ young coach.
However, as with any public figure, there is always more to the story, and Swinney opened up to TigerNet recently and talked about his first days as Clemson’s head coach and the fears and demons he fought in those early moments in the molding of a head coach.
Swinney started the interview off by saying that he is just as human as anyone else, and that human side was filled with doubts following former head coach Tommy Bowden’s sudden departure and Swinney’s being elevated to the head man during a game week.
“If you cut me open, I bleed. So, I’m certainly human,” Swinney said. “I’ve never lacked confidence or anything like that. I’m thankful that I have a strong faith, very thankful. The devil will attack in a lot of ways and doubt is one of them.”
Swinney said a lack of sleep marked that first week, and the lack of sleep and the doubts and the frailty of the human spirit came crashing down on him that first Thursday. Tears welled up in his eyes, and he wondered whether he was equipped to handle the pressure of being the head coach of a demanding program like Clemson.
“That first week I was an interim, I didn’t sleep Monday night,” he said. “I only slept two or three hours Tuesday night, and probably two or three hours Wednesday night and I’m coming into work at probably 5:30 a.m. that Thursday morning and I had a weak moment.
“All of a sudden, it hit me that we have to play on Saturday. It was the first time, I had parked in the head coach’s parking spot and I turned in to that parking spot and my lights hit the curb on the curb was the number 88. My number in college was 88.”
Swinney saw that as a sign that he was in the right place at the right time.
“It was almost like God was saying, ‘Hey, I’ve got your back. You’re right where I want you to be and don’t doubt that.’ And, I’ve never doubted it since,” he said. “I know that I’m here because the good Lord put me here for whatever reason. That doesn’t mean that you aren’t going to have challenges or adversity ,because God is always trying to challenge you and make you better.
“But, as far as doubting myself, I’ve never been a doubter. I’ve been a believer my whole life. The only way to achieve is to believe and that’s why whenever we have a team meeting I walk in and I’ve got a ‘believe sign.’ I want this football team to believe that they can do anything that they set their heart to do.”
Swinney said he had one thought on his mind – survival.
“Survival. Just trying to survive each day,” he said. “Thought after thought after thought was trying to plan for that practice that day, to get ready for that game that week, trying to bring the team together, trying to map a course for those six weeks- that’s all I really could think about. It was, what was going to happen the next hour.”
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