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Swanson resigns from Wrenshall basketball

Joel Swanson, head boys basketball coach in Wrenshall, has decided to resign that position effective immediately. Swanson announced the decision following the Wrens loss to McGregor in the Section 7A boys basketball tournament.

Joel Swanson, head boys basketball coach in Wrenshall, has decided to resign that position effective immediately. Swanson announced the decision following the Wrens loss to McGregor in the Section 7A boys basketball tournament.

"Though I have had one of my best teams this season, I knew this was my last year from the beginning of the season and I tried keeping it under wraps," said Swanson. "A program needs a change once every decade or so and I look forward to a change as well."

One of the reasons for Swanson stepping down is a commitment to family.

"I have loved the game as long as I have played it and coached, but I have always wondered what people do in the winter other than hoops," mentioned Swanson. "My kids have grown up while I've been coaching and it is a long season. I've missed those after school times, getting home some nights after their bed times."

Swanson and his wife, Trish, have seven children from 10-month-old Lexi to 21-year-old Erin, who is married and living in Florida.

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"I want the pleasure of watching Evan (a junior) and Tyler (a freshman) play without the pressure of coaching them," commented Swanson. "My wife recently took a job at St. Scholastica, so as a family we are going through a lot of change. Trish won't get off work until 4:30, so after school will be my time to be a dad!"

Swanson stepped in as head coach during the 1994-95 season when the head coach stepped down under pressure.

"It was a difficult decision to take the position," recalled Swanson. "I decided it was best for the kids. At the time I took over we were 0-5 and we ended the year at 15-9 and played Chisholm in the section tournament. There were only two classes back then, so it was a great feeling of accomplishment, especially beating Esko in the sub-section championship."

Swanson saw both the best and worst in life during his tenure. The most exciting moment came when his team won the sub-section title in the '94-95 season, and the saddest moment was when he lost a player in a car accident.

"Losing Mark Sandstrom in 2003 after a traumatic car accident was one of the hardest events in my life," stated Swanson. "Mark was a special person and exceptional player. We all loved him very much. His funeral was held in the gym where I had coached him just weeks before. The whole experience was horrible and filled with sadness and love."

Swanson is an English teacher at the school and he has thoughts on how a new coach should be chosen.

"The next coach will need a solid rapport and connection to the team and a commitment to Wrenshall," explained Swanson. "I would hope my assistant of six years, Bill Sandstrom, would get the opportunity. He meets both of these criteria and has a solid understanding of the type of game these guys should be playing. He is also a fantastic person and great friend."

Swanson would like to thank all his former assistants including Eric Berg, Wayne Sowada, Michael Hunter, Aaron Louhela and Sandstrom.

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"I genuinely appreciate the support of the Wrenshall boosters and the parents through the years," stated Swanson. "I would like to extend my great thanks to every player who played for me. Every one of them gave his best through practices, the defeats and the wins."

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