Hawks coach Cara Swayze has spent the last 28 years building a winning culture at Spruce Creek.
Cara Swayze was always emotional when it came to volleyball. The burning passion for the sport started well before she stared at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, and it has continued throughout her entire coaching career, which has spanned more than 30 years.
Swayze, arguably a legend in local high school volleyball, has been at the helm of Spruce Creek’s girls volleyball program for the past 28 seasons.
Yelling was commonplace at most matches, but she’s dialed back her temper in recent years.
“I still am emotional when I coach,” she said with a laugh. “I try to be calm, but I try to push and be aggressive with the things we’re trying to do. We have a game plan every time we play. We try to follow it. We keep working on the little things.”
She added: “I’ve grown a lot I think. Now I use my emotions for the good things.”
What’s helped her keep her emotions in check?
"It's great to learn from someone like [coach Swayze] because she knows so much about the game and she's been around it for so long."
KATE ROTH, Hawks volleyball player
Throughout each match, Swayze can be seen scribbling diligently on a piece of paper attached to a clipboard. She records kills, blocks, errors and other stats.
It helps her focus on the game — who’s playing well and who isn’t. It’s a trick she learned 10 years ago from a friend at Winter Park High School.
“It’s kind of what keeps me from getting into trouble,” Swayze said. “It keeps me focused on what we need to do.”
Swayze has had “a lot of great experiences” and coached “a lot of great teams” in her time at Spruce Creek. She led the Hawks to one Final Four appearance and has been to the Sweet 16 each of the last four seasons. She expects 2019 to be no different.
The same can be said of the girls who play for her — despite losing four starters to graduation last season.
“It’s pretty hard because we have to learn to play with each new player,” senior Mackenzie Martin said. “It was really just about learning what everyone can do and what their strong suits were. We really keyed in on everyone’s strengths and made it work.”
Swayze and her coaching style has helped push the Hawks through adversity.
“She’s crazy, and we love it,” Martin said. “She loves winning and we love winning. It takes hard work. She knows that and we know that. She pushes us to work really hard.”