Brandon Schweizer welcomes a new challenge

Published 10:00 pm Friday, July 17, 2015

FEATURE BrandonSchweizer2

By Mark Schmerling


Brandon Schweitzer, currently one of two assistant principals at Polk County High School, will test his administrative skills even more, now that the Polk County Board of Education has named him as the high school’s new director of athletics.


School district officials’ decision to not hire a separate director of athletics to replace the recently-retired, long-serving Jeff Wilson (who retired as of June 30), was based on finances, noted Schweitzer, who has a high school and college sports background, and has also served at an assistant football coach and a head wrestling coach, both at the high school level, for the Wolverines.


Schweitzer said that school district officials wished to “blend” these two positions of assistant principal and director of athletics together. Blending these two positions is not a new concept, said Schweitzer, who won’t be involved in any coaching.


“I think I’ll have my hands full with being assistant principal and athletic director,” he remarked.


Josh Hill is the other PCHS assistant principal. Mary Feagan is principal.


In spite of the challenge, Schweitzer is optimistic.


“This ought to be a fun year,” he smiled. “I have an athletic background. I love athletics.”


Schweitzer played three sports for West Henderson High School. He attended the University of South Carolina on a football scholarship, then played football and wrestled for Gardner-Webb University.


“I’m certainly no stranger to trying to balance athletics with academics,” Schweitzer observed. “It’s going to be a challenge, though.” He admitted that he’s still “wrapping his head around” this change.


One of many advantages for Schweitzer is his relationship with Polk County Schools Superintendent William (Bill) Miller, an ardent sports fan and supporter.


“I’ll be leaning pretty heavily on his wisdom,” Schweitzer explained.


“The initial framework for the position has been great,” Schweitzer said of the Board of Education’s handling of the transition. “Mr. Miller and Mrs. Feagan have been very supportive.”


Another plus for Schweitzer, indeed for Polk’s athletic program, is the contribution over the past year by department assistant Gingi Green.


“Gingi is fantastic,” Schweitzer observed. “There is no doubt that she’s a critical piece to make that machine (athletics department) roll the way it has. Mr. Miller has been very gracious in keeping her on. She has bridged this transition.”


Schweitzer first came to Polk County High School as an assistant football coach under former head coach Bruce Ollis, and as head wrestling coach, holding the latter post for four years.


Even as his Henderson County contacts encouraged him to remain true to his Falcon background, Schweitzer proudly noted, “I fell in love with Polk County, and don’t intend to leave any time soon.”


Here, he says, everyone – students, community members and school officials -has been incredibly supportive.


“I’m truly blessed. This is a great community.”


One of Schweitzer’s early assignments will be to speak with Polk’s various coaches, to learn their short and long-term goals. They’ll speak with lots of experience, as most have served for substantial periods and have demonstrated a love for what they do.


Schweitzer admires the way head football coach Jamie Thompson has continued with much of the foundation set up by Ollis, for whom Thompson served as an assistant for many years. Schweitzer added, “Thompson did a really good job of making his mark on the program.”


One addition to this fall’s football season is that for the first time, the Wolverines will have TV coverage, as Fox 40 out of Greenville, S.C. will broadcast the Wolverines’ varsity team as they host Mitchell on October 8.


“We’re excited about that October 8 game,” Schweitzer remarked. It will be only the second high school sporting event in Western North Carolina to be televised.


Coordinating his positions as assistant principal and director of athletics is only part of who Brandon Schweitzer is. In addition to working in his second year of a three-year educational doctorate program through Western Carolina University he is also a husband.


“We start with family,” Schweitzer stated of his priorities. His wife, Jennifer Schweitzer, a third-grade teacher at Tryon Elementary School, was named Teacher of the Year for 2014/15. Both have roots in Henderson County.


The other family is what he refers to as the “Wolverine Family,” and the closeness of individual students, which helps each one achieve more, on and off the field. That closeness, Schweitzer said, begins in elementary school.


“By the time these kids get to high school, they’ve bonded with each other. The kids are committed to each other and committed to something bigger than themselves.”


“Difficult, but doable,” is how Schweitzer views his various responsibilities. The community and school support will help make it doable, he noted.


It’s going to be a fun journey. I’m looking forward to tackling it.”