Sky View scholar, three-sport athlete 'definitely old school'
The average workday is about eight hours. If things are really hectic, one could easily spend 10 or 11 hours at the office.
But a persistent diet of 11-hour workdays is enough to make some people yearn for a vacation. Not Erik Swenson, the student body president at Sky View High School. A diet of 11-hour workdays is a vacation for him.
Swenson arrived at school at 7 a.m. a little over a week ago. He began the day in a meeting with fellow student body officers, then went to his classes until the midafternoon. When school was out, Swenson, a three-sport athlete for the Bobcats, changed into his baseball uniform and took the field against Logan High School. He doubled off the centerfield wall and finished the game 1-for-4 as Sky View edged Logan, 3-2.
"It made me mad," Swenson said of his double off the wall. "We had like a 25 m.p.h. wind blowing in from center, and it held my ball up a little bit."
It wouldn't be the last time Swenson came inches from a home run. He's hit line drives off the wall in Sky View's last three games -- something that's getting a little frustrating for the Bobcats' cleanup hitter.
"They were inches from going over," Swenson said of his near home runs. "It's harassing."
Most people could share Swenson's frustrations, if not on the baseball field then in the office place. For a construction worker, just missing a home run is the equivalent of spending 11 hours on a bid just to have the secretary send it to the wrong address. It's the type of thing that makes one glad the day is finally over.
But that's where the similarities end. Swenson's day was far from over.
He ran home when the game ended and changed into his church clothes.
Instead of soaking in a hot tub for the rest of the night, he headed to Salt Lake City for the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America competition. He won the gold medal in the job interview section of the event and qualified to go to nationals in Kansas City, Kan.
Swenson returned home around 12:30 a.m. -- a 17 1/2-hour day at the office.
This is nothing new to Swenson. He's been doing it all year, first as a wide receiver for the Bobcat football team, then as a small forward with the basketball team - all the while fulfilling his responsibilities as the student body president.
"Most days I have a meeting before school, and [I'm] home by 8-ish," Swenson said. "That's a typical day. A 13-hour day is normal for me. It's tough trying to keep my grades where they are."
And where are Swenson's grades? Let's just say he has more vowels than Vanna White. He's one of 27 valedictorians at Sky View. So how does he do it?
I get "less sleep than needed -- that's all I can say," he said. "I was blessed with a sort of photographic mind, and that helps."
It's not like he dogs his obligations in one area to buy time for another. Sky View head basketball coach Terrell Baldwin said Swenson tackles his student body responsibilities with the same zeal he displays on the playing field.
"It's all about accepting responsibility," Baldwin said. "Understanding responsibility -- and accountability. I think he's been able to have a nice transfer in both of those."
Baldwin, who's been the head coach at Sky View for four years, said most kids don't understand where those boundaries are. They don't understand how to take on responsibility. He said Swenson is the exception because he knows where those lines are, and he never cheats them. He's a throwback to the days when coaches gave the order to jump and the players' only responses were, "How high?"
"He's definitely old school," Baldwin said. "He's got a beginner's mind when it comes to everything. He's willing to except any teaching that comes his way. He's very coachable."
Baldwin should know. He coached Swenson his junior and senior years, during which the Bobcats were 28-0 in league play. They lost this year to Timp View High School in the state playoffs -- a game Swenson shutters to think about.
"It was our worst game," he said, shaking his head in disappointment. "We didn't do the things that made us win all year.
Still, he looks back on the season with fondness.
"That's probably the one thing I'll miss about high school. The camaraderie we have as a team. In basketball, I have a group of guys I've gone through war with."
Does that mean he loved his time on the playing field more than the year he spent as student body president? Well, maybe. But just barely.
"Service is great, and I love being a leader," he said. "But I can use those skills on the field as well."
And that leadership on the field is something from which first-year baseball coach Rick Thorne said his team has benefited.
"I think one of his qualities is he's a leader," Thorne said. "I think there's some carryover there. He's a three-sport athlete, so he's competing year-round. I think that adds a lot to our team. He's been in the program for three years and knows what it takes to be a winner.
"He's a good role model. You always want a kid on the team that's going to be a role model. Erik's a good student - just an all around good kid, and it's always nice to have kids like that in the program.
Just imagine how much he could help the program if he got some rest.