After his playing career at Williamsburg High School, Eric Swords wanted to play basketball in college and make a career out of the sport.
The 2004 graduate signed with Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, Tennessee, where he played two years for the Redhawks. He took a year off then transferred to the University of Virginia at Wise finishing his final two years with the Cavaliers.
Swords wanted to continue in basketball so he went to Doane College in Lincoln, NE as a graduate assistant. After his stint at Doane College for the Tigers, Swords returned to UVA-Wise as an assistant to Coach Lee Clark.
“My responsibilities are scouting, recruiting and on the floor coaching,” Swords said of his college duties for the Cavaliers. “I coach the guards, but my main responsibilities are scouting and recruiting.”
You can find Swords on the road about every day of the week going from one high school to the other. “During the year it is an everyday thing. You practice then go watch a game at night. You get back late then go to practice or a game the next day. It is a lot of time, but I really enjoy it,” Swords said.
Swords said the Cavaliers recruit from about eight states including Kentucky, Virginia, Georgia and Tennessee. “Pretty much the entire southeast,” he said.
UVA-Wise will make the move from NAIA to NCAA Division Two. “We have applied and been accepted, but we will be in a two-year transition period where you can’t be eligible for post-season. That move helped us a lot in recruiting this past year by being able to get good high school kids because it’s pretty hard to do that at the NAIA level. If they are good enough to help in the Mid-South they are probably going to a low D-1 or high D-2,” Swords said.
Swords was successful in landing Buckhorn’s Matt Day to UVA-Wise. Day was a Mr. Basketball finalist and all-state player for the Wildcats. He has made an impact this season for the Cavaliers. Day has started all 17 games and is the third leading scorer with a 12.5 average.
Swords said it was tough recruiting in the Mid-South. “It is the toughest small college league in the nation,” he said.
The former Yellow Jacket has been in school as well over the last nine years. “I have Bachelors in business and I have a MBA. I am still trying to figure out what I want to do with it. I also would like to get a MAT at some point so I can teach high school,” Swords said.
His goal is to remain in coaching. “If the right opportunity presents itself I would like to get back to eastern Kentucky as a high school head coach because of the atmosphere and tightness of the communities, especially after recruiting Day,” he said. “I watched 12-14 of his games and you see the packed gyms and fans really into the game. You miss that a little bit in small college.
I would like to be a part of something like that again, but if not I’ll stay at the college level, but I would like to be a high school head coach some day,” he said.
Swords, a newlywed, was married to Ciera Powers of Williamsburg, June 6 of last year. Basketball has been tough on the pair as he lives in Wise and she lives in Williamsburg. “That is real hard on us, she has a job in Corbin as a pharmacist, so I don’t want her to leave that job and have to follow me around,” he said. “So, that’s the main reason why I would like to get back to the area.”