When Brian Swafford isn't coaching championship wrestlers, he can often be found leading youth groups at his local church
An Iowa wrestling coach is helping to make his former student-athletes’ big day special.
“It was an opportunity to get to know kids, and a lot of kids I coached have been in my youth groups,” Swafford, 64, who has also been the senior pastor at New Song Christian Life Church in Lowell for 26 years, told the outlet.
In addition to his time with the church, he has also been the assistant coach at New London High School for the past 36 years, while also serving as the New London junior high coach for 26 years.
Swafford first became a volunteer youth leader in 1981. He has spent more than 40 years working with the youth ministry.
“From May to June, I did the weddings of four former wrestlers,” he said. “But I’ve had some hard times. I’ve done four or five funerals for former wrestlers.”
The coach told the sports outlet that his advice to the couples comes natural, as he often uses analogies that they’re sure to understand.
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“I reminded the groom — and others — that some of the keys to being successful in wrestling are some of the keys to being successful in your marriage: you have to sacrifice; be patient; you get out of it what you put in. Trust and believe in the process, in the relationship. It’s a ton of work, but it doesn’t feel like work,” he said, referring to the first wedding ceremony that he ever officiated.
Wrestling Insider Newsmagazine also spoke to one of Swafford’s former student-athletes, Corbin Brumwell, whom he coached from 1995-2001. He agreed no one else would be a better option to conduct his wedding to wife Sarah.
“He was so much a part of my life growing up, of my becoming a man,” Corbin said. “He was a phenomenal coach who taught me so much. He was the best to be around.”
Swafford credits his own wife for helping him to find his purpose in life, telling the outlet that she encouraged him to keep going after facing a shoulder injury earlier in his career.
“I thought sports was kind of over for me,” he recalled, “But my wife encouraged me to get a coaching certification.”
“I mostly enjoyed helping the junior high and teaching fundamentals,” he continued. “I want to be the first coaching experience they’re going to get. If I have a positive relationship with them, I could help with their problems even into their careers.”
Swafford added that whether it's competing for wrestling or premarital counseling, he goes by “Coach” either way.
“It was all ministry to me,” he said.
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