YOUNGSTOWN - Josh Swogger just wanted to give back to his alma mater - a school that gave him his foundation.
"Big Ursuline fan, trying to help coach (Larry) Kempe and get the program where it needs to be," Swogger said at Tuesday's Ursuline Football Camp. "We've had a lot of success the last 10 years and we want to see Ursuline do well. Anything I can do to help out, that's what I'm here for."
Well, there was something Swogger could do. He's one of many former Ursuline High School alumni that are part of a mentoring program with current football players. Swogger, who was the quarterback on the 2000 Division IV state championship team, went on to play at Washington State University and the University of Montana.
Swogger, who lives in Liberty, now works for a financial institution in New Castle, Pa. He doesn't coach, but is mentoring current Ursuline quarterback and 6-foot-4, 215-pound junior Chris Durkin.
"We have a mentorship program and I'm in close contact with Chris Durkin," Swogger said. "He's going through a lot of things I went through as a junior and senior."
Swogger transferred from Mathews High School to Ursuline before his junior season with a push from his father, Jeff.
"Thankfully I had a father who cared enough about me and my future to force me to come to Ursuline. I didn't want to come," Josh said. "He forced me to come here and it was the best decision of my life. Where I'm at today is a direct correlation of what I learned at Ursuline High School, the disciplines that were instilled in me when I was at Ursuline High School that has carried me through my collegiate career, as a professional now and as a father.
"He just recognized that this is the No. 1 program in the Mahoning Valley. I might catch a little heat for that."
This season, Durkin will be taking a little bit of heat from the opposition.
"We want to see Chris grow as a person, grow as an athlete, get to a point where we were with Paul (Kempe)," Ursuline coach Larry Kempe said. "Decision making, know when to throw it a way, know when to tuck it and just make the right reads and decision, which he's doing a great job right now."
Kempe is confident in Durkin's ability.
"Most importantly, he understands what's happening here at Ursuline," Kempe said. "Everything else is going to take care of itself. I have the utmost faith in Chris in a person and as a student-athlete. We're going to be in good hands with him."
Durkin is in good hands with Swogger, who fondly remembers his time with the Irish.
"Best times of my life," Swogger said. "This takes me back 13-14 years, afternoons, evenings on hot, August days. The bonding experience we had with the team allowed us to be the state championship team we were. That was all formed. It's not what happens Monday through Thursday on the practice field. Everything starts in the summertime in the weight room, doing the 7-on-7 with the teammates.
"I wouldn't trade it for the world. Some of the best memories I've ever had were on this field."