Leslie Swiggum is an icon. Her impact on the sport of dance in the state of Minnesota can not be judged. It can not be quantified.
It can be spoken, that evident as the Wayzata coach stood, hands hovering over her face, as thousands of state meet spectators rose to their feet Saturday at the Target Center in appreciation.
“Swig! Swig! Swig!” was the chant.
“All the kids. All the coaches from other teams. All the fans. It is really a wonderful feeling to be appreciated. I’ve been around a lot of time, was involved in a lot of stuff, but that was a special moment,” Swiggum said.
Swiggum walked off the dance floor one last time, a champion once more in the Class AAA high kick competition. One night earlier, Wayzata won a tie-breaker over Edina for a state championship in jazz/funk.
Wayzata won 13 state titles under Swiggum, eight since 2006. In total, she was a coach with the Trojets for 44 years.
Everything you need to know about the impact of Swiggum in dance in Minnesota showed as one-by-one, coaches from the state finalist teams came to say thank you.
“There were quite a few tears. It was amazing,” said Swiggum of the final two days of the season, her coaching career. “I love these kids. I love this program. All of the other coaches. We are close, extended family,” she said.
Swiggum was one of the pioneers in the sport, helping dance gain sponsorship from the Minnesota State High School League more than 20 years ago.
Now, state dance attracts nearly 20,000 fans each year, 12 qualifiers from three different classes in kick and jazz over two days.
“The respect I have for Swig is immense. She’s just the most ethical human. She’s always making a decision that is best for dance, and the state of Minnesota. She will be dearly missed. An icon indeed,” Chaska head coach Kris Rydland said.
Swiggum, 66, knew it was time. Before the season started, her decision was made. Alyse Iorio began head coaching duties this year. Wayzata, a perennial favorite, is in good hands, Swiggum said.
“I’ve been doing this for 44 years. It’s time to pass the baton. I’ll still be around helping with stuff,” she said. “We have three grandkids, we like to travel. It was time. And the rest of the coaching staff is amazing. This program won’t suffer one iota. They are great. They are in good hands.”
Wayzata was joined by Edina and Eastview in the top three in Class AAA jazz with Wayzata followed by Lakeville North and Eastview in Class AAA kick.
Orono was a finalist in Class AA kick with Mound-Westonka also in the field as a finalist in Class AA jazz.