Enterprising GLS regular Reg Hartner interviewed new Michigan State coach Brandon Schwind. Quotes come courtesy of Reg, prose is (mostly) mine.
When Michigan State’s MCLA program fired coach Dwayne Hicks in early June, many (myself included) questioned whether the Spartans would be able to find a replacement that could take them to a higher level. After all, MSU had an unprecedented level of success under Hicks.
In Brandon Schwind, however, Michigan State’s leadership has found a coach who is ready to help the team take the next step. With Division-3 head coaching experience at Fontbonne University, Schwind has spent the last two years at Haslett High School, just a few minutes from East Lansing. Though he comes to State from the high school ranks, his goals are decidedly Big Picture.
“Short term would be to change the system,” Schwind said. “Each coach has their own methods or system to install upon arrival. There will be some changes, especially in terminology and defense.
“Long term, I want this team to reach the goals they have set for themselves before I came to MSU, which is to win a national championship. I believe we can reach those goals.”
The way Schwind came to the Spartans’ attention is interesting on its own. Through connections at the Atomic Lacrosse club program, he received a word-of-mouth recommendation for the gig. Shortly thereafter, Michigan State’s leadership reached out, and the rest is history.
The bigger question now becomes how Schwind can help MSU reach the lofty goal of a national title. Fortunately, he’s experienced with rebuilding. In two years at Haslett High School, he turned the team from a mid-Michigan also-ran into a top-40, then top-15 team according to LaxPower’s computer rankings.
“I am very happy at what the Haslett coaching staff and I did over at Haslett,” Schwind said. “The level of lacrosse has improved significantly in two years. The kids being able to adapt to a new style of ball had a lot to do with it. I feel that they saw how far hard work and fundamentals could take a team.
“As far as whats next for Haslett, they are looking for a new coach. I am going to be involved in the search for a replacement. I definitely feel like a parent [of the program]. I want to make sure the person who takes over is well suited for the boys and will help them reach the goals that I failed to meet in my tenure.”
The mention of fundamentals is no coincidence for Schwind: sound technical play is a hallmark of his coaching style. Schwind has a plan in place to help the Spartans improve their squad quickly by focusing on the little things.
“I feel like the fundamentals of this game are often overlooked,” he explained. “To me, this game is simple: Run, Catch, Throw and Communicate. Get away from doing those four things and bad things happen. Keep it simple and know your role as a player.”
An eye on the basics is not the only hallmark of his coaching style, however. He learned the virtues of hard work and discipline playing at Upper Arlington (Ohio) High School under coach Ted Wolford and at the NCAA Division-3 level at Wittenberg College, led by Coach George Harris. Through their teaching, he developed a fiery temperament that his players will come to know soon.”
“I like to think that I am intense,” Schwind said. “Players will have to answer that in the months to come. I call things the way I see them and I play no favorites. Hard work, Discipline and Heart are the three characteristics I will look for in every player who wears green and white. We’re going to work hard at every practice and produce great competition in practice for playing time.”
Even before he ever coaches a game – or a practice – at Michigan State, Schwind has more work to do. He will fill out his coaching staff soon (the opening is posted on LaxPower), and set a plan in place to lead the Spartans into a new era.
GLS wishes best of luck to Coach Schwind and the Spartans in the future. See the MSU press release on Schwind’s hiring here.