ABOUT COACH SWEN NATER
Swen Nater has a unique story. It’s a story of hard work and success. “That’s not unusual,” some may say, but when they consider the prodigious difficulties Swen encountered and that he became a success in spite of those challenges, it becomes a most interesting and unusual story indeed. But it’s not so unique others cannot relate, for many have faced similar trials in other areas of life and have overcome. Still others are at the threshold of encountering such daunting situations, they are either going to give up or plow through to success. Swen’s message motivates listeners to do the latter.
Born in the
Not to be
discouraged, he again tried as a freshman at
But his contribution was the role of practice player. John Wooden’s system allowed for seven regular players and the rest were reserves. But Swen had been given an important role: to help develop Bill Walton. And that’s what he did. He fulfilled his role perfectly and, in turn, Swen became nationally recognized when Walton claimed, “Swen is the best center I’ve played against all year.”
That label, and Most Valuable Player in the Pizza Hut All-Star Game, after his senior year, helped him become a first round draft pick. Swen is the only player in history to never have started a senior college game and be drafted in the first round.
Swen became the ABA
Rookie of the Year in 1974 and went on to play for several teams, one of
which was the
After his playing
days, Swen co-coached
The challenges of a
broken home, living in an orphanage, never having played high school basketball
and sitting the bench at UCLA, were daunting indeed. But through determination and a most vivid
goal, Swen was able to overcome and emerge as an
But Swen knows he didn’t do it alone. Though following John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success to become his best, he relied on others and helped them as well. He knows you cannot do it alone. You must cooperate, be loyal and develop friendships to become the best you can be.
The UCLA basketball teams, under the direction and teaching of John Wooden, were noted for their impeccable team play. Swen understands exactly what it takes for any team, in any area of life, to become a unit where the slogan, “It’s amazing what a team can accomplish when no one cares who receives the credit” rules.
Swen’s message then, is his story, a story of a young man who should have failed at life but found a way to win. He believes anyone who has a clear, reachable goal can succeed through hard work, enthusiasm, cooperation, loyalty, friendship, intentness, poise, confidence and competitive greatness. Ask Swen if all the work was worth it and he will tell you he would have done more. His reward is peace of mind and a wonderful relationship with John Wooden and many others that will last a lifetime.
No doubt there are those in every audience who are about to give up or simply don’t have a roadmap to become their best. Perhaps even some have never realized success is making the effort to become the best of which one is capable. Giving all is not so far from victory. Swen provides the road map and motivation to help make on the spot decisions to reach out and achieve their goals.
As George Mariority--major league umpire--once wrote in part:
“For who can ask more of a man,
Than giving all within his span.
Giving all, it seems to me,
Is not so far from victory.”
• Bachelors Degree, Physical Education
• U.C.L.A. (student and basketball player-three national championship teams)
• 12 years, Professional basketball player (A.B.A, N.B.A, Italian League)
• NBA leading rebounder (1980)
• Italian League leading rebounder (1985)
• Only player to
• Holder of NBA all-time rebound record, defensive rebounds in one half (18)
• Current team records-
• Several Clippers individual records
• Only person, in ABA/NBA history, to be drafted in first round, not having started in a
• 9 years, Athletic
• 2 years, Algebra
• 5 years, Head
• Head Coach,
• Producer of three Basketball Instructional Videos
• Author of “The Complete Handbook of Rebounding,” Coaches Bookshelf, Publisher
• Co-Author of “You Have Not Taught Until They Have Learned,” FIT, Publisher
• Co-Author of “John Wooden’s UCLA Offense,” 2006, Human Kinetics, Publisher
• Co-Author of “Playing Big" with Pete Newell, 2007, Human Kinetics, Publisher
• 12 years, Employee at COSTCO WHOLESALE
• Director of Employee Outreach (Reading Acceleration Programs, where COSTCO
employees volunteer in local elementary schools to accelerate the reading skills of at-risk
• Currently, Assistant Buyer: Computer Software
• Father of two daughters