The Nowata, Okla., native now brings that passion to Tabor College, where he has accepted the role of head men?s and women?s cross country coach and will also coach the distance runners during the track season.
Having spent the past 20 years coaching at Fresno Pacific University, Schwab said he is excited for the opportunity to build Tabor?s program and strengthen its competitiveness.
In some ways, he has found the two institutions to be similar.
?I really enjoy being at a small Christian college like Tabor College,? he said. ?Fresno Pacific is a sister college to Tabor College.
?It?s quite a bit larger though now, but I enjoy this atmosphere and this environment.?
Schwab was a multi-sport athlete at Nowata High School, where he participated in football, basketball, baseball and track. His high school did not have a cross country team, he said, and it wasn?t until a few years into his high school experience that he realized his passion for running.
?Once I discovered running and distance running my junior year, that became my favorite,? he said.
Schwab said he knew he wanted to compete at the collegiate level, and running fit the bill.
?I just started running, and I turned out to be decent at it,? he said. ?It was something I just really enjoyed and really loved, so I wanted to pursue that.?
Schwab carried that passion to Austin College in Sherman, Texas, where he joined the track team as a distance runner. He was also a member of the swim team for a year.
?They did not have cross country, but we ran track, and I would run my own road racing schedule in the fall,? Schwab said. ?I ran year-round from that point on.?
Schwab earned a double major in business administration and physical education from Austin College, then earned his master?s degree in education with a physical education emphasis from Azusa Pacific University.
He began his career at Azusa Pacific, coaching cross country and track for four years.
Schwab then transitioned to Fresno Pacific to coach cross country and track and field, where he grew the program over the next 20 years and coached 19 national champions and 62 NAIA All-Americans in the process.
?I was fortunate to have some good coaches with me and a few really good, talented athletes,? he said. ?I had a good experience with it.
?It started out small and ended up fairly big, and I got to see it happen over the years.?
Transition to Tabor
Now, Schwab will look to build Tabor?s cross country program.
His first goal is to field full teams.
?I hope we can get the numbers up and be competing for conference championships here within a few years,? he said. ?That would be a nice goal, but the immediate goal is just to field two full teams for this year.?
Schwab said his desire is for each athlete he coaches to reach his or her full potential.
?My goal is always the same?no matter what team I?m coaching, how strong the team is, how large it is?it?s always athletically, for each of the athletes to reach their potential during that season and to place as high as we can in the conference championship, wherever that puts us,? he said. ?I want us to be prepared when we go into the conference meet when the teams will be running at their best, be peaking at that time.
?I want each kid to have absolutely the best race they can have in the conference championship, and when you do that, you?ve done all you can do.?
For Schwab, coaching is more than a job.
?I feel like it?s my calling and my ministry to work with college age young people, so I put my heart and soul into it and put a lot of my life into it,? he said.
He also desires to see athletes grow as individuals.
?I always want to see the young people grow as people, grow in their relationship with Christ if they know the Lord,? he said. ?If they don?t, I hope they come to know the Lord.
?I want the whole experience they have with me to be educational for them in many ways, and I want it to be a very positive experience that 20-30 years from now they?ll look back on it and say, ?Those were the best years of my life.??