Maize’s Swenson built for success
The battle royale that raged for years in the Swenson household, mercifully, has ground to a halt.
And the oldest child, Keiryn Swenson, has been declared the loser.
It is perhaps the only time the Maize junior forward, who’s orally committed to Tulsa, will concede defeat.
“I kind of controlled things when I was younger, but my brothers caught up to me and turned the tide,” Swenson said. “I still try to compete, obviously, but my days of being the king are over.”
The king of a household of children raised on sports and competing in absolutely everything — younger brothers Kameron, 15, and Konner, 14, are also athletes at Maize. The harbingers of the whole enterprise have been parents Eric and Dodie, who were college athletes at Fort Hays State.
“The competition between the kids used to be pretty aggressive, but we had to lay down the law,” said Eric, who is the track and field coach and a football assistant at Independent. “Lots of black eyes, lots of staples, stitches and glue. Keiryn used to hold her own, but the testosterone kind of took over.”
Keiryn, who’s 6-foot-2, seems poised to take over as one of the best players in the state this season. She averaged 14 points and 7 rebounds last season in helping lead Maize to the Class 6A tournament. She also shot 50 percent from three-point range and was an All-AV-CTL Division I pick.
Maize coach Jerrod Handy has watched her evolution as an athlete — Swenson and his daughter, junior forward Daley Handy, have played basketball together since the fifth grade.
“(Swenson) has always been a great athlete, but the reason she’s developed so well is she’s worked really hard,” Jerrod Handy said. “She has talent and skills, but she’s always been very dedicated to becoming a better athlete and had a great attitude.”
It’s an attitude that comes directly from Eric being a coach.
“I tell my athletes, and this is something she’s always heard from me, is that not everybody can be a college athlete, but they can all go to college,” he said. “So academics first, and if you think you want to be a college athlete, then that’s going to take something extra. And (his children) have bought into it.”
She committed to Tulsa in January, where she’ll play basketball and throw the javelin, an event in which she finished second in 6A the last two seasons. Swenson also had an offer from Wichita State — to play volleyball.
“I think she’s always been kind of torn between the three sports, but last year, right after she got out of volleyball, she was talking about how much she missed basketball and how fun it was to be back in it,” Handy said. “I think that kind of helped her make the decision.”
Both father and coach praised Swenson’s intensity and focus — on sports and academics.
“I feel like I’m the world’s biggest perfectionist, grades, sports ... I want to be perfect and it drives me nuts at times,” Swenson said. “And our team this season has so much potential. I feel like we’re all on the same page as far as just wanting to go to state and take things as far as we can.”