After leading the TCA boys’ basketball team to a historic run to the state Final Four, coach Leo Swiontek has announced he is retiring, citing the extensive time commitment required to lead the program.
“My first year as head coach I was working 60-70 hours a week during the season,” said Swiontek, who was an assistant in 2018 before taking over The Classical Academy program last season. “There was a window of five months where I didn’t see my grandkids, I didn’t have time for friends or my wife. I had to make a decision — I can’t keep this up. Even though we had this beautiful, magical run and the way it ended, I had to make that decision.”
Swiontek, 61, said he told his wife after his first full season as head coach that he was considering retiring.
His announcement comes more than a month after the Titans’ run in the 4A playoffs was cut short as concerns around the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the basketball playoffs just hours before the team was slated to play in the state semifinals.
“I think my mind had already been made up even before this season started,” he said. “So the way it ended was so disappointing, and it’s still disappointing.”
In the state playoffs the No. 11th seeded Titans upset No. 6 Skyline and No. 3 Longmont on the way to the Final Four. TCA’s 42-39 win over the Trojans is arguably the program’s biggest win by ending Longmont’s two-year streak to the state finals. Last year the Trojans were defeated by Lewis-Palmer in the 4A title game, and won it all in 2018.
In two seasons at the helm, Swiontek accumulated a 37-12 record and the program’s first state playoff win. He took over for three-year coach Kevin Wenger in 2018, propelling off the Titans’ first winning season since 2012-13. The TCA boys’ basketball team has earned just five winning seasons since 2010, which include the last three straight.
Swiontek said he hopes the last three seasons will set a foundation for The Classical Academy to become a program known for basketball, and will help keep athletes from transferring into another school after eighth grade.
“If we can get TCA kids to stay at TCA we will be a good program as long as we get the right coaching that will build the right system,” he said. “I hope that continues and I hope they find that next coach that will come in and do that.”
Swiontek said a few of his assistants plan to apply for the open position in hopes of keeping the program on track. But above all, Swiontek said the new coach will have to have the right personality, remain positive and continue the growth within the program.
Swiontek was named the 2019-20 Gazette Preps Boys’ Basketball Coach of the Year and TCA was named honorary co-champions by The Gazette along with the St. Mary’s girls’ basketball team for winning their final postseason games before the cancellation of the state tournament.