The Newton Senior High School wrestling program has seen some interesting times as of late. It is unnecessary to rehash some of the controversy that took place weeks ago, but it goes without saying that there was a void left when long time coach Bill Reed resigned from the program. Recently, Athletic Director Scott Garvis’ search concluded with a much younger mindset now at the head of the program.
Meet the new face of Cardinal Wrestling — Andy Swedenhjelm. Coach Swedenhjelm is an Iowa native. He attended Dowling Catholic in Des Moines, where he played football and wrestled. He ended up at Truman State University as a defensive tackle on the football team. He went from the Truman State Bulldogs to the Ottumwa Bulldogs, where he has been an assistant wrestling coach for the past three years. When he saw the job in Newton open, he jumped at the opportunity.
“Newton has always had a strong wrestling program,” Swedenhjelm said. “It has always been a hotbed of wrestling in Newton. People have always been passionate about wrestling there. So, when the job opened up, I saw it as a terrific opportunity to coach kids who would be enthusiastic about the sport.”
Enthusiasm is the name of the game for Swedenhjelm. He emphasized the need to get the athletes excited in order to get the absolute best from them. With an optimistic and enthusiastic tone himself, he discussed the need for excitement when competing.
“I’m trying to get the kids excited and the expectations for them will come from there,” Swedenhjelm said. “In order to get the best out of yourself, you have to love to train. You have to love to compete. Wrestling is the ultimate competitive sports, and it can come down to who is more excited about being out there.”
His love for the sport has deeper roots than most. While plenty of coaches bring knowledge and experience, Swedenhjelm brings a passion that is unparalleled by most of his peers.
“I’ve been involved in wrestling since I was in the second grade,” Swedenhjelm said. “I love the individual competition aspect of it. When you’re out there and you’re by yourself, there’s nowhere to hide. I love that excitement you get from a win and from celebrating with your teammates. There is really nothing else like it.”
In his first impression of the returning wrestlers, Swedenhjelm was extremely optimistic about getting the opportunity to coach some of Newton’s finest young athletes.
“I spoke to the kids already, and when I did they were really excited and ready to put in the effort we need at this program,” Swedenhjelm said. “They’re ready to take the next step as a program, and I am ready to lead them there.”