Terry Sworsky

Terry Sworsky was born one of a set of identical twins in 1947 to Lee and Ed Sworsky, an English war bride and an Army Ranger who stormed Omaha Beach on D-Day. He started grade school in Columbia Heights and moved to Fridley in 4th grade, graduating as a proud Fridley Tiger in 1965. Unlike today, where kids are introduced to wrestling before kindergarten, he did not start wrestling until eighth grade. His first year, he did not win a match or even score a point! Twin brother Tony had started wrestling a year earlier and insisted on showing him all the moves he was learning. Since basketball wasn't really working out for Terry, he decided to join his brother on the wrestling team. As a sophomore, he began his varsity high school wrestling career, placing fourth in Districts at 127 pounds even though he only weighed in at 118! As a junior he improved to first in Districts and fourth in Regions (53 teams), still at 127 pounds. As a senior, he moved up to the 138-pound weight class, placing first in Districts, and second in Regions, which qualified him for the state tournament. The highlight of his high school wrestling career was placing second in the 1965 one-class Minnesota State Wrestling Tournament as a senior under Fridley Head Coach Don Meyers. Besides wrestling, Sworsky also competed in baseball and football throughout junior and senior high school. Sworsky was recruited to come to the University of Minnesota by Head Wrestling Coach Wally Johnson. He laughs as he remembers the "sweet deal" he was offered as a recruit when Coach Johnson took him to Coffman Union for a piece of cherry pie. That was the enticement in the 60s! Well, it was enough to lure the freshman athlete, and off he went to college at the University of Minnesota where he majored in biology and minored in chemistry and physical education. As far as wrestling was concerned, there was no freshman eligibility at that time, so he would only have a three-year varsity career. However, early in his sophomore year, he broke his arm and was redshirted until the next season (1967- 68) when he started his three-year varsity wrestling career, graduating in 1970. Sworsky began his teaching and coaching careers in the fall of 1970 at Columbia Heights High School where he taught biology and physical education and was the assistant wrestling coach (with Head Coach Al Ogdie) and head tennis coach for seven years. In the fall of 1977, he accepted a position at St. Francis High School as a full-time science teacher and also became the head wrestling coach, taking over for Gene Yanke, who started the wrestling program at St. Francis in 1959. Sworsky also coached tennis during his tenure at SFHS. All told, Sworsky coached wrestling for 34 years and taught biology, chemistry, and physical education for 35 years before retiring in 2005. He also refereed high school and international style wrestling from 1967-1984, served as the Executive Secretary for the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association (MWCA) from 1982-87, and was the Region 7 representative numerous times. From 1977 to 2004, Sworsky was the head varsity wrestling coach at St. Francis High School where he garnered a 303-127-7 overall record. During that time, there were 9 Conference Team Championships, 138 All-Conference wrestlers, 101 State entrants, 59 State place winners, and 9 State champions. Four teams qualified for the Minnesota State Wrestling Tournament: 1986 (5th place), 1992 (6th place), 1996 (5th place), and 1997 (3rd place). Sworsky was honored as the 1986 Minnesota State AA Wrestling Coach of the Year, the first year he took a team to the state tournament. He was inducted into the MWCA Dave Bartelma Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1989 and into the St. Francis Hall of Fame in 2019. In early 1983, Sworsky married Leslie Norman and they had two sons: Steve (born 1983) and Brian (born 1984). Leslie proved to be the St. Francis Saints' wrestling team's biggest fan and helped behind the scenes to make things run smoothly whether it be a dual meet, tournament, or banquet. He will always appreciate her unwavering support. Both Steve and Brian started wrestling before kindergarten and had successful high school careers. Steve taught middle school technology for ten years before moving on to a job in the tech field. Brian is teaching middle school math in the Mounds View school district. Both have coached at the middle school and high school levels and enjoyed working with kids and helping them improve. Sworsky is a longtime resident of St. Francis, moving to the district at the time of his initial employment at SFHS in 1977. There were many highlights in his career, but he felt especially privileged to have worked with so many young people in a variety of capacities whether they were wrestlers, managers, cheerleaders, students, or fans. His greatest thrill, he says, was to coach his two sons throughout their high school wrestling careers. Sworsky has been an avid outdoorsman all his life. He loves fishing, hunting (deer, upland game birds, and especially turkeys), shooting sporting clays, volunteer coaching the St. Francis Trap and Skeet Club, and training his English Springer Spaniels for field trial competitions. He has trained and handled five dogs to Amateur Field Champion titles and also judges spaniel field trials throughout the country. He is a voracious reader and also enjoys traveling the world with Leslie and spending time with their three grandchildren: Anika (7), Gerrit (5), and Grant (3).


Lifetime Service to Wrestling

Our Mission: To honor the sport of wrestling by preserving its history, recognizing extraordinary individual achievements, and inspiring future generations