PROSPERITY — Mid-Carolina Rebels pole vaulter Joshua Swindler’s crusade to become a college student-athlete will lead him to North Greenville University, home of the Crusaders.
Swindler signed recently with the school and credited his coaches, school and family support with him getting the opportunity.
Swindler said he was helped a lot by older vaulters in the program as well as MCHS Track Head Coach Jackie Harris and Coach Rusty Shealy.
He vaulted in grades 7, 8, 11 and this season. The highest he’s cleared in a meet thus far is 12 feet, 6 inches.
Swindler is president of the MCHS Fellowship of Christian Athletes and said he liked the FCA program he saw at North Greenville, particularly the possibility to do mission trips with the program.
“I really felt God led me to North Greenville. I prayed about it and talked about it with my parents and realized this was the school for me,” he said.
The Swindlers are members at Aveleigh Presbyterian Church in Newberry.
“He took a different path (than his brother who plays football at Newberry College) and has done well with it,” City of Newberry Police Chief Jackie Swindler said. “We certainly are proud of our sons.”
Joshua Swindler plans to major in criminal justice. Other options he is considering at this point are Army ROTC or perhaps a minor in youth ministry.
His mother was thankful for the structure of the MCHS track program led by Coach Harris.
“He’s always had a strong sense of adventure and been something of a daredevil,” his mother, Sherry, said. “This way he could channel that into structured activity and learn from someone (about vaulting) to know how to be safe.”
Harris was not surprised to see Joshua’s success.
“He’s always been a good athlete with speed and quickness. Once he got the upper body strength he had it all but he had to gain that mentality that it was OK to propel himself through the air 12 to 13 feet using a pole,” Harris said.
He encourages other students to come out and give track and field events a try.
“It’s a great sport, not for everybody but when you find kids willing to work without a ball in their hands, they can find a niche among the 17 different events,” he said. “I think this is a great opportunity for him and for our program. A lot of schools don’t have pole vault so we are lucky our administration goes the extra mile to fund the equipment needed to do that.”
With two state championships to its credit, most recently in 1996, the Rebels track and field program has a proud tradition.
Harris and Swindler look to add to that tradition when they take the team to Batesburg-Leesville on April 30 for the Region AA meet.