GOSHEN — At 5-foot-5, Aimee Swihart may not be the biggest athlete in the gym. But it’s hard to find anyone with a bigger heart.
From a young age, she learned the value of competition from father Steve, mother Linda and older brother Nathan. At 10, Aimee started playing high-caliber travel softball, logging up to 80 games a year.
With her father as one of her coaches, Aimee grew to be a determined young woman.
“I’m very proud of the way she goes after things,” said Steve Swihart, who had to miss his daughter’s Saturday night game while being inducted into the Elkhart County Sports Hall of Fame. “She knows what ‘sic ’em’ is.”
It’s that strong work ethic and ultra-aggressiveness that has led the spitfire to get better and better as a basketball player and guided Aimee to the top of the Goshen High School girls basketball record books.
She is No. 1 in points (909), assists (227), free throws made (245), free throws attempted (379) and is closing in on many other statistical categories.
Swihart, who gave up softball after her sophomore year to concentrate on the sport she wants to pursue in college, became the Redskins’ all-time girls basketball scoring leader last week in a win against Marian.
“It’s a great accomplishment and I’ve worked hard for it,” said Aimee, Goshen’s four-year starting point guard. “But I’m more worried about wins and losses. I’m not a bad loser, but I’m very competitive.”
A stabilizing force at GHS, Swihart has missed only a couple of games in her whole prep career and became a starter in the second game of her freshmen season when she netted 18 points against Bremen.
A second-year co-captain (last year with Liana Yoder and this season with Deja Felder), Swihart gets the attention of her teammates.
“I try to make sure people understand what is happening on the floor and make sure everyone stays in check,” said Swihart, who has learned to channel her on-court emotions in a positive way.”I work on my emotion. Freshman and sophomore year, it was my biggest challenge. (Goshen head coach Lenny Krebs) doesn’t put up with poor attitudes.”
Krebs remembers Aimee’s early days at GHS and talked about the example she has become.
“Her freshmen year, she wore her emotions for all to see,” said Krebs. “She has developed that aspect of her game. She hasn’t allowed things to control her. I can’t think of another person that is as intense as she is. She is just as competitive, but she is in control. She’s been fortunate to have great teammates around her. They’ve seen how she handles herself on and off the floor and they’ve chose to give that same effort and work just as hard.”
Krebs, who first saw Aimee’s talkative nature when he had her in class as a sixth grader, notes that some of his younger players have been caught off-guard by the vocal guard.
“She demands a lot of herself and the other people on the floor,” said Krebs. “She’s just a special kid. She has a great work ethic.”
As evidence, Aimee made more than 10,000 shots during the offseason.
“She’s extremely determined to improve weak areas of her game,” said Krebs. “Her freshmen year, she couldn’t shoot a lick. She was strong with a low center of gravity and she could get to the basket anytime she wanted to. She has slowly developed that outside shot.”
All those days on the softball field have helped hone Aimee’s dedication.
“I don’t want to get out-hustled and do the little things, control what I can control,” said Aimee. “I work hard on defense and push the ball.”
Aimee could have pushed her decision on college, but decided to take her time.
“I want to make sure it’s the best fit for me academically and athletically,” said Aimee, who carries a weighted 3.99 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale (3.87 un-weighted) and is learning about physical therapy as an intern at IU Health Goshen Physicians Orthopedics & Sports Medicine.
People often describe Swihart with adjectives like tough or hard-nosed.
But that’s not all there is to the 18-year-old.
“Off the floor, she’s one of the most compassionate and humble people I know,” said Krebs. “My kids (13-year-old Ashton, 8-year-old Kaci and 6-year-old Karson) absolutely adore Aimee.”