Football, school, New York Times blog, All in the offense lineman’s work

November 5, 2009


With bloodshot red eyes, an excruciating headache, and the energy of a tortoise, the 6-foot 4-inch, 319 pound Phillip Swanson enters the library.

It’s nearly 9 p.m. and after a long day of practice and a full schedule of classes, Western Michigan University’s starting offensive lineman still has to study for his Journalism Law and Ethics test in the morning. Due to WMU’s road game at Kent State on Halloween, Swanson even has to take the test earlier than the rest of the class.

This is a day in the life of Phillip Swanson: hard work and even more hard work.

“I’ve got a girlfriend, I’ve got friends, I’ve got school, and I’ve got football, which is the most important thing in my life and to think about how to manage all of this time,” Swanson said.
“Sometimes you have to upset the people that you love just because I have to go do this and go do football and really sometimes it’s frustrating but you got to understand that you’ve got priorities and the biggest thing is that you got to figure a way to make it work.”

Swanson has been successfully figuring out ways to make it work since he took his first step as an enrolled student on WMU’s campus as a freshman in 2006.

Joining the football team in 2007 after redshirting the first year, Swanson quickly made his mark as he started all 12 games of the season. He was also named to the Academic All-Mac team, which would only set him up for what he would go on to accomplish in the Brown & Gold uniform.

In 2008, he once again started in every single game and was named to the First Team ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District team. As he continued to thrive on the gridiron, Swanson also managed time to succeed in his academic work.

He wrote for the school newspaper, the , as well as interned at WWMT in the summer prior to the start of this year’s season.

After seeing all of his hard work in his desired field, came calling. The publication has allowed Swanson to contribute a blog to its Web site entitled “On The Line at Western Michigan,” throughout the season.

Despite all of this recognition, the football organization still remains a bit skeptical of the affect that this may have on his focus to the game of football.

“I’m concerned with the amount of time that you put into the game of football and the amount of things that he’s got going on and that’s a concern,” WMU offensive lineman coach, Bob Stanley said.
“There’s a certain amount of time that you have to put into this game and when you take away from that time then you take away from your pursuit of perfection and we’re concerned about that. I would be lying to you if I told you any different.”

Thus far, Swanson has managed to handle all of the pressure as he continues to thrive on the football field while bringing recognition not only to him self, but to the university as well.

“Anytime you get your name in a publication like and attached to your name is Western Michigan University, it’s gonna be huge!” WMU Media Director, Mat Kanan said. “Phil is kind of media savvy on both sides, so this is great.”

Due to his time management skills and attention to detail in everything that he does, it’s easy to see why Swanson is able to multi-task so well. This is why he was able to get an A on that Journalism Law and Ethics test on Halloween morning while still managing to partake in the bulk of the snaps in WMU’s game versus Kent State that afternoon.
“Kids that just go to school and work a job, that’s awesome,” Swanson said.

“But when they complain about not having enough time, I just smile. ‘You don’t have enough time?’ I wish I had the amount of time that they have but to each his own, we each have our own paths and we got to figure out a way to make it work.”

*this post can also be viewed at!


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