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 Netherlands, his mother and father divorced when he was three, his sister was six and his younger brother was only one.  When his mother remarried, she, her husband and his little brother left for the United States to start a new life, leaving Swen and his sister in an orphanage.  They were promised a reunion, but after three years, things did not look good.  A television program, “It Could Be You,” forerunner to “This Is Your Life,” discovered the situation and they brought the two siblings to America to be reunited with their parents and brother on national television.


Once in America, Swen became a serious student.  He never even tried out for a basketball team until his junior year of high school and he was cut from tryouts. 


Not to be discouraged, he again tried as a freshman at Cypress Community College (where he met his wife, Marlene) in Orange County, California.  He made the team but didn’t play much his first year.  After a very arduous training regimen, and many trips into the ghettos of Los Angeles, Swen was honored as a Community College All-American his sophomore year.  He earned a scholarship to UCLA. There he red-shirted his first year, while the team won their fifth straight national championship, and was a member of the “Walton Gang” for two years, adding two more championship banners to the rafters of Pauley Pavilion.  Swen was undefeated at UCLA and helped contribute to the eighty-eight game win streak.


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 Los Angeles Lakers.  His teammates, among others, were Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson. 


After his playing days, Swen co-coached Christian Heritage College to a national championship.  His application of John Wooden’s system and his teaching methods greatly contributed to his success.  Currently, Swen has one book in print, “You Have Not Taught Until They Have Learned,” co-authored with Ronald Gallimore PHD, UCLA professor, explains Wooden’s teaching methods.  The next, “John Wooden's UCLA Offense,” promises to be the most definitive work on the subject.  He is co-authoring this publication with John Wooden.


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 ABA and NBA star. 


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)

ABA leading rebounder (1975)

• Italian League leading rebounder (1985)

• Only player to lead ABA and NBA in rebounds

• Holder of NBA all-time rebound record, defensive rebounds in one half (18)

ABA Rookie of the Year (1974)

• All ABA (1974,1975)

• Current team records-

   Milwaukee Bucks rebounds in one game (33)

   • Several Clippers individual records

   • Only person, in ABA/NBA history, to be drafted in first round, not having started in a

       college game

• 9 years, Athletic Director, Christian Heritage College, San Diego, CA

• 2 years, Algebra professor, Christian Heritage College, San Diego, CA

• 5 years, Head Basketball Coach, Christian Heritage College

• Head Coach, National Champions, Christian Heritage College

• 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