For her stellar season in the Gulf Coast Atlantic Conference tournament last weekend in Nashville, Swain was awarded Player of the Year, first team All-GCAC member and Co-MVP of the tournament.
“I was really surprised,” Swain said. “When they called us up there for all-conference. I was up there and they called out Player of the Year and I thought No. 2 from Xavier would get it because she was really good. When they called my name I was standing there in shock. I was really glad I got it. Then when they did Co-MVP’s of the tournament I was thinking, ‘Why do they need two?’ and when they called my name I was, ‘Oh I got it again.’ It made feel better at the tournament, because I thought I played awful and I felt really bad. When I got it, I thought I guess I didn’t play that bad if they thought I deserved it.”
The Lady Tornadoes went 2-2 in the conference tournament. On the first day, TC split their two games defeating Tougaloo College and then falling to Xavier. The Lady Tornadoes defeated the host team the Fisk Lady Bulldogs to open their second day. Later in the evening, TC lost its last match to Southern University New Orleans, which brought its season to a close.
“Fisk (was) a really nice host and the banquet was really nice,” Swain said. “When we played it seemed like everybody was against us. We were the team that nobody liked. It was disappointing that we didn’t get to make a statement as much as we should have, but I am really proud of every body. We finished really strong.”
Swain recorded some impressive stats for TC this season. The Piedmont native led the NAIA nationally in hitting percentage .383. Swain led the GCAC in hitting percentage at .383 with 387 kills. She also finished second in the conference kills per set, and she was seventh in blocks per set.
“First of all, she really deserves it,” TC head coach Ron Burt said. “Anything that she received this year she deserves it. She has worked really hard. She definitely deserves Player of the Year, but I was surprised when she got it only because we weren’t really accepted as a force in the conference until later in the year when we were started to play well. I don’t really know if the teams we played early in the year knew what she was capable of doing. The way the year went on Shalitha got stronger and stronger. It got to the point where teams weren’t holding her back and I think that’s when the other teams started to take notice.”
Swain, who was the only TC player to be recognized, believes that some of teammates deserved to be up there receiving awards.
“Even though I did get Player of the Year in kind of hurt me, because nobody else from my team was up there with me,” Swain said. “Even though we didn’t win we are the best team in the conference overall.”
Burt said he will miss Swain next season, but he knows that she will do well in what ever she decides to do.
“I could not have asked for a better person to lead my team as a first year head coach,” he said. “Shalitha has exemplified herself as a true leader and that is what I’ll miss most.”