Originally hailing all the way from New York it’s safe to say there are few players in our club who’ve taken a more interesting pathway to be in our NBL1 team. With a team full of young, developing players, it’s invaluable to have someone around who brings such unique life and basketball experience to the table as 37-year-old David Swaby. So it’s brilliant to have him back for NBL1 2021.
Here’s what brought Dave first to Perth, Western Australia, and then the Perth Redbacks:
“After college, I had a lot of offers to play pro ball overseas but at the same time, I also got an offer to work at Bridgewater Associates. They are the No. 1 hedge fund company in the world so that was the financial industry equivalent of getting a contract offer from the Lakers straight out of school.
I ended up working full-time with them for eight years which obviously meant I couldn’t play pro basketball. But there’s a high-profile league with many former NBA players called Basketball City in Manhattan. I played in that league and also in another USBL semi-professional league in Connecticut. So, while I was doing the corporate thing I was still managing to play semi-pro basketball on the weekends.
Then I met my partner who was working in New York at the time. We dated for a couple of years and once we decided to settle down, we decided to do that in her hometown of Perth. Once I got here, I ended up living across the street from Bendat Basketball Centre so I was training with Perry Lakes for a bit. But I really wanted to get into coaching as well and that opportunity opened up at the Redbacks.
When I got to the Redbacks, it was such a welcoming and inclusive environment, I felt right at home straight away. And obviously still do because I’m still here!”
It’s safe to say life in Perth is very different to life in New York:
“With two young children (aged 1 and 2) we couldn’t have both of us working full-time in a traditional way (9-5 office hours). So right now, I’m coaching full-time but with flexible hours at different schools and also doing some personal one-on-one coaching. It was a significant career change going from the big time, full-on hectic and high-pressure corporate environment to now being full-time around basketball. Moving countries has allowed me to chase my basketball dreams here which is definitely something I’m more passionate about.”
How does career, family and NBL1 work around the needs of two very young children?
“It’s a little challenging but having a good family support system means you just work together on a schedule. The Redbacks themselves is such a family-oriented environment and are very understanding of the challenges of young kids. So with all of that, it kind of works.”
How does Dave put his experience to the use of the squad?
“I’m one of the older guys in the squad so there is an opportunity there to work with some of the younger guys and help them develop. I coached the Redbacks U20s team in 2019 and 2020, and I’m now the D-League Assistant Coach. It’s a great opportunity for me to be player, mentor and coach all at the same time.
As a player, even though I just turned 37, I still feel like I have a couple of years left in me. I think I’m in very good shape for a 37-year-old so I want to make the most of that. To be able to pass on some of my knowledge and help out the young guys and squeeze out the last couple of years from my body means I feel like this is the ideal fit.”
And Head Coach CJ Jackson is pretty clear why Swaby’s re-signing was a priority:
“He can play those four and five positions for us, and he likes to put his body on the line. We’ve signed him because he is a mature-aged player, and we know what we’re going to get from him: someone who is fully committed and giving full energy all the time. He talks all the time in training, tries to anchor the defence and is always trying to do what is best for our club. We’ve also elevated Swaby from U20s to being D-League assistant coach because we know he’s a coach and player in one. We want to give him all the opportunities to realise his coaching ambition, but overall we’re happy he is in our club because he is just a great club person.”
NBL1 Director Nathan Barns sums up Dave’s popularity quite neatly:
“Swaby is loved by all. On the court, he provides valuable support to our starting players and he is just as required off the court. Swaby devotes a lot of time and effort to the Redbacks and we are so happy he decided to go around again in 2021.”
Hopefully, once his basketball career is over, we’ll still have Dave around the club in some capacity. On the topic of his move to Perth he says:
“I honestly feel like moving here was by far the best decision I ever made. Perth is 100 per cent home now. It’s a beautiful place and I want to raise my two beautiful children here. I couldn’t be happier with my decision to move out here.”