Jon Zwitt retiring from role as CGHS Athletic Director
Writer / Kevin Conrad
A total of 14 state championships. 18 state runner-up titles. 27 semi-states. 142 regionals. 280 sectionals. 80 Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference (MIC) titles. More than 300 Johnson County championships. These incredible accomplishments over 25 years have one man in common – Center Grove High School (CGHS) Athletic Director Jon Zwitt. Zwitt will retire at the end of June as the school’s most accomplished athletic director.
“When Jon was hired, he took on the challenge of joining the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference,” says CGHS Principal Dr. Jeff Henderson. “He was dedicated to not only being a member of one of the most competitive conferences in the state, but to being successful across all sports. His steadfast leadership, unwavering commitment to excellence, organizational skills, and ability to find the right coaches to lead our student athletes have been critical factors in putting Center Grove High School on the map in terms of athletic competition.”
The Chicago native and Purdue University graduate became the athletic director in 1996 with a vision to create a culture that involved having the very best coaches.
“The secret for success for a director at a school, a business or any venture, is to surround himself or herself with quality people – people who share similar goals, similar focal points, similar paths,” Zwitt says. “They want to have that burning desire to lead their individual programs to the next level. I’ve tried to surround myself with hard chargers. An effective head coach knows when to talk and when to listen, when to command and when to march with the troops, when to laugh and when to bark, when to negotiate and when to require, and when to be a boss and when to be a big brother.
Those are the type of coaches I looked to hire. We’ve worked hard, within the rules, and enjoyed the fruits of whatever achievements we were able to attain. It’s been a good recipe for success at Center Grove.”
It didn’t take much time for newly hired CGHS Softball Coach Alyssa Coleman to appreciate what Zwitt has created at the school.
“It has been an amazing opportunity to walk into the culture that he has built within our athletic department,” Coleman says. “Without a doubt he has had the vision to build a department full of highly demanding professionals who have an ability to not only coach their sport, but motivate their players to desire more out of themselves than they knew they had. When I think of Jon, I think of a man with a vision, and relentless pursuit for excellence.”
Cale Hoover, CGHS girls golf coach and former wrestling coach, holds Zwitt in high regard.
“He is one of the most important and influential hires in CG history,” Hoover says. “He came in and put his plan in place and took the athletic program to new heights. Thousands, if not more, have benefited from Jon’s efforts. I truly appreciate how he values every sport in the athletic department.”
Hoover says there is another side of Zwitt’s business-like persona.
“Jon has been more than an AD to me, serving as both a mentor and friend,” Hoover says. “He was a great listener. I knew I could share my thoughts, feelings, observations and dreams, and he would always take time to listen and be supportive. When I left Hamilton Southeastern for CG, Jim Self, the AD, told me I was going to work for the best AD in the state. I quickly learned he was 100% correct.”
“He brings a sense of family to the athletic program,” adds Wes Dodson, CGHS girls cross country and track and field coach. “We all root for each other’s teams. We want not only our team to be great, but all of the Center Grove family to be great.”
“His expectations are that we are professional and that we do our best to compete at the highest level we can,” says Debby Burton, CGHS girls tennis coach. “He has worked tirelessly to improve Center Grove athletics facilities and programs. He is always out and about on competition days watching the teams playing and encouraging our athletes.”
“Personally, he has changed my life by giving me my first coaching opportunity,” says Zach Hahn, CGHS boys basketball coach. “He believed in the vision of a young 25-year-old to lead a program in the toughest conference in the Midwest for high school basketball. He gave my wife and me a great family-oriented community to raise our children. I’m forever grateful for that.”
Under Zwitt’s leadership, the CGHS athletics program has ascended to an elite level in the state of Indiana.
“If you walk through our Hall of Excellence or the Hall of Fame, you will see Jon’s legacy everywhere,” Hahn says. “The amount of collegiate athletes and championship teams he has helped produce through his leadership is second to none in the entire state of Indiana.”
“I would say I am most proud of how most everyone embraced change,” Zwitt says. “They dissected it, they analyzed it and they found ways to make CG better. Center Grove is now known around the state for their excellence academically and athletically, and that will help me mentally and psychologically when the time comes to close my office door one last time in June.”
“Jon has high expectations for everyone, including himself,” says Dr. Bill Long, assistant superintendent for Center Grove Community School Corporation and former CGHS principal. “Jon had a vision for what he knew we could accomplish athletically, and he set his mind to it. He knew we could compete in the MIC, we just needed to change the mindset of our student-athletes, coaches and parents. That probably started with the hiring of Coach [Eric] Moore. Once Moore showed we could be successful in the best conference in Indiana, the rest of the sports stepped up as well.”
“Jon was a strong advocate for hiring a strength and conditioning coach to help all of our individual student-athletes and teams improve,” Long adds. “He knew our athletes needed to be stronger and faster to compete in the MIC and at the state level. Marty Mills was a great hire as the strength and conditioning coach. I believe you will see a correlation between the number of all-state and all-star athletes and team and individual state champions, and Jon’s hiring of Marty. Jon also brought in a nutritionist and sleep specialist to work with our coaches, students and parents.”
“I’ve always been a believer of the philosophy that when an administrator retires, the organization should be better, stronger and more fundamentally sound than when they arrived,” Zwitt says. “My hope is that the fans and the community feel that in my time here I’ve helped raise the bar and continually looked for ways to improve. I hope they feel I inspired our coaches to develop boys and girls into disciplined, motivated young men and women. I hope they feel as proud of Center Grove as I do.”