Tianna Swearinger was born to be an athlete. With both of her parents being accomplished athletes in high school, her mother went on to be an All-American as a basketball player at Benedict College. Her brother, former University of South Carolina Gamecock free safety, D.J. Swearinger, will likely be selected in the 2013 NFL Draft after being a four year starter at South Carolina.
It is only fitting that the youngest Swearinger, only a sophomore in high school, has found herself as a leader for the 16-1 Greenwood Lady Eagles basketball team.
“I am blessed to have come from such an athletic family,” Swearinger said. “D.J. (Swearinger) set the bar pretty high, so that just pushes me to be the best I can be.”
Playing in 4A competition can be pressure filled, so having someone to look up to that has already experienced similar pressure, and more, has been an advantage for Swearinger.
“Most everything I know about the game, I’ve learned from D.J. and my mom,” said Swearinger. “When he (D.J.) played, he was a great guard. He has shown me how to use my quickness, how to handle pressure situations, and how to lead. I feel like you don’t have to be a senior to be a leader, so I try to be vocal with all my teammates. I think I’m able to get in there and keep everyone calm, make sure they know what they are doing, and keep my game where it’s supposed to be, try to lead by example.”
Swearinger’s mentality as a leader is something rare, a trait valued by head coach Susan Thompson.
“That’s something that has been instilled in her probably since the day she was born,” Thompson said with a laugh. “Even the older girls, the seniors, look up to her. She leads by example, works really hard. With her working hard, it gives her a reason to fuss at others if they’re not working hard. The best thing is that she has two more years left. You can just imagine how good of a leader she will turn into her junior and senior years.”
Described by her coach as the “total package” offensively, Swearinger has been key in the Eagles’ success thus far this season.
“She (Swearinger) has a great knowledge of the game,” Thompson said. “She sees the floor well and takes good shots. She can shoot it from outside and penetrate, just an all around good player.”
The Lady Eagles’ only loss of the season came on the road against J.L. Mann. Currently in second place in Region I-4A, the Lady Eagles will travel to T.L. Hanna Tuesday and Easley on Friday, in preparation for a showdown with J.L. Mann at home in the season finale the following week. If they were to win their final three games, it would force a playoff for first place in the region. According to Swearinger, the Lady Eagles are hoping to gain some momentum leading into the playoffs, expecting to improve on last season’s third round playoff exit.
“We want to go all the way to state,” Swearinger said. “The first step is winning the region, going to the playoffs, and then not losing from here on out.”