Just call him ‘Tex.’ At Nation Ford, if you go yard, you get to go big – and gaudy.
Catawba Ridge, which will open this fall, has found the school’s first baseball coach.
Nation Ford also has a new coach for their baseball team.
Stas Swerdzewski will launch the baseball program at Catawba Ridge. He served as head baseball coach for Nation Ford for the past four seasons. Swerdzewski posted a 56-53 record and made the playoffs all four years. He took the Falcons to the district finals his first season and last year to the Upper State round of playoffs.
Swerdzewski will be replaced at Nation Ford by Michael Lewis, who has been on the Nation Ford staff for two years and has been junior varsity head coach during that time.
Swerdzewski said he took the Catawba Ridge job for two reasons.
“The most important factor was my family,” he said. “We live within the school zone for Catawba Ridge. I feel like it was important for me to live within the zone I am coaching in. So that was a major factor. My kids will go to Doby’s Bridge Elementary, the new middle school and Catawba Ridge. All these schools are located so close, that logistically it was a good decision for my family. Being that close to home allows me to be a better family man.
“Another factor is getting to start a new program from scratch. Being the very first baseball coach there and working with the players to set the tone of what the culture of the program will be like is a very intriguing opportunity. It is going to be fun. It is going to be some work, but it will be fun.”
Lewis came to Nation Ford from Gold Hill Middle School. He was one of four potential candidates to interview for the Falcons’ job.
“When I sat down a couple years ago to talk to Coach Stas about where I would fit in with the program, we both came to the conclusion that I was more comfortable as a head coach,” Lewis said. “I am more comfortable being in charge of the game fully and that is why he placed me as being in charge of the game at the JV level, in preparation and working with him that if he got the opportunity to leave, I could interview for this.”
Lewis said he believes Nation Ford has a good base established and he wants to continue carrying that forward. Nation Ford will lose roughly 10 players from this year’s team with nine of those graduating and the other one going to Catawba Ridge.
“Coach Stas has done such a great job of laying the foundation here,” Lewis said. “There is a lot of talent coming through here and we have the opportunity to insert ourselves in the conversation of some of the better teams. And I feel like we have done that, but there is a lot more work to be done for us to continue to do that.”
Nation Ford will lose seniors Jeffery Maidhof, Bradley Bott and Tyler Causey.
However, Lewis said that is where other players must step up.
Lewis said baseball, and sports in general, allows coaches to get to know players on a more personal level. He added that especially in baseball, it teaches you how to deal with failure. He also said the sport helps to install things like hard work and determination in the players.
“Baseball is the ultimate sport for that because you are going to fail more than you succeed,” he said. “You have to learn to deal with adversity and I feel like we can do a good job of installing those type of things into the kids and if we do that, I feel like we will be successful on the field and they will ultimately be successful in whatever they do.”
Lewis teaches social studies at the school and also helps to coach football.