Three legendary Colorado Springs basketball coaches announce retirement

Posted at 11:39 PM, May 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-04 01:39:22-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — With a combined half century worth of coaching experience in Colorado, Leo Swiontek, Phil Roiko and Mike Burkett have their fare share of basketball stories to tell.

But after this year's basketball season, they will have a new one to share.

"I haven't slept so much in my life," explained Swiontek. "I have slept more than I have in the last week and a half - 2 weeks."

It feels like yesterday all three where on the sidelines coaching their respective teams to the state championships this year.

That is until COVID-19 happened, which canceled their season, leaving these three hoops legends with a big decision to make.

"I know it the right decision, but I am going to miss the kids," said Swiontek, who came out of retirement to take the TCA boy's basketball job a few years ago.

"I love basketball," added Roiko. "It is a passion of mine and I love working with the kids."

Next season, the TCA Titans, the Air Academy Lady Kadets and the St. Mary's Lady Pirates will have new coaches leading the huddles as Swiontek, Roiko and Burkett have all announced their retirement.

"It is better for me to step away when things are really good. The program is in great shape," explained Roiko, with the timing of his retirement.

Even Swiontek admits people must think he is crazy to leave the sideline after two great seasons with the Titans.

"I know there probably a lot of coaches thinking, 'why is this guy leaving after almost getting to the final four, great records for two years in a row and he is checking out."

But for Leo, he it isn't check out. It's about ending one game and starting a new one. This time with his family and 3 grand kids, with one on the way.

"And they said dad, you doing the right thing, you went out on top," explained Swiontek, after he told his family he was going to resign.

As for Phil, well - he isn't ready to fully hang up the whistle just yet

"I will take a year off or two and if I am re-energized, maybe jump back in. I wouldn't mind sitting the bench and helping someone out, but at the same time, I may enjoy this time off and it can be a permanent thing," chuckled Roiko.

And for Burkett, he hopes to pass down that St Mary's dominance to his son Kyle, a current assistant on his staff.

But all three coaches can agree on one thing: this career was never about the wins or the losses. It was the connection between the lines that will make the memories flow forever.

"Winning or losing, you just do not know if you will be blessed with the talent or not, but you can always have that relationship that can last you forever," said Roiko when asked what he learned the most from basketball.

Swiontek added, "I just want you to be a good husband, a good father, I want to get through your college, through your jobs, be a productive member of America and do not be a bum. And if I can help you do that through this goofy game of basketball amen that is where it is at."

Two great words of wisdom to live by as all three coaches will be sorely missed by the Southern Colorado high school basketball community.