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McCook Central’s Superintendent named SDHSAA executive director

SALEM — The South Dakota High School Activities Association has chosen a new leader.

The association announced the hiring of Dan Swartos as its executive director Wednesday to take over for Wayne Carney, who is retiring at the end of the 2016-17 school year.

Swartos, superintendent at McCook Central School District in Salem, will begin his new position on July 1. The South Dakota High School Activities Association directs and coordinates all sports and activities carried on by member high schools of South Dakota.

“I’ve loved my time in Salem and McCook Central and I’ve really enjoyed the people, the staff, the board and the kids here, so it’s kind of bittersweet,” Swartos said Wednesday. “I’m going to miss them like crazy and I’m very thankful and I’m honored to be their superintendent. At the same time I’m really excited for the opportunity with the activities association.”

The 36-year-old has been with McCook Central for five years as the school’s superintendent, but he’s also helped in coaching the varsity football team.

Prior to the gig at McCook Central, Swartos spent four years as the superintendent at the Big Stone City School in northeastern South Dakota. He’s also taught special education for three years with the Brookings School District.

While in Brookings, Swartos coached junior high football, along with junior high and varsity wrestling for the school district.

Swartos said he plans to use his experience coaching and teaching as he steps up as the SDHSAA executive director.

“I think it’s really going to interest me,” Swartos said. “I’ve always enjoyed athletics and the arts both, so it’s going to be exciting to do something different and do something new.”

Swartos was one of three finalists for the position. The SDHSAA Board of Directors has been accepting applications for the position since October last year. Carney announced his retirement in June after being with the association since 2001.

As executive director, Swartos will be in charge of oversight of the entire association. And while that may be a bit nerve-wracking, Swartos said he’s ready for the challenge. While he doesn’t have any set goals in mind yet, Swartos said he will once he begins in July.

“I’m going to have to take stock of what’s working and what’s not working,” Swartos said. “I think they’ve run a pretty good organization so far. It’s a good opportunity. It’s an organization in a good place. It will depend on what I find when I get there.”

The Volga native obtained his bachelor’s degree in teaching from Dakota State University in Madison, a master’s degree from South Dakota State University in Brookings and a doctorate degree from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion.

He’s also been a part of the South Dakota National Guard for 17 years, and is a veteran of the Iraq War. Swartos transferred to the 147th Army Band, based in Mitchell, where he’s been a part of for the past 11 years.