Wrapping up the triathlon season over the weekend, I was given cause to reflect on what it means to be an athlete and what it means to be a coach. I've been straddling the balance over the last decade or so and have had a pretty unique vantage point over the years. I'll explore the athlete-coach relationship a bit more over the next few weeks, but a few things popped into my head:
1. Athletes do the work and earn the result, coaches simply guide the way. A good result is the athlete doing their job while a poor result is the coach failing to be an effective guide.
2. Results come from the culmination of not months but years of work and dedication. Short term success means nothing if it doesn't lead toward bigger and better results or at least consistency.
3. Competitive drive and motivation is a double edged sword. Without control and focus, a lot of hard work can go wasted or even be detrimental. Finding balance and direction should be job #1.
If you have been coached by/worked with/been associated with the people on this list, consider yourself lucky:
Thank you to Jennifer Gibson, Bill Close and Dean Ehrenheim for developing my love of sport and showing me how to balance hard work and having fun as an aspiring olympian. You laid the groundwork for the next 20-30 years of my life and I probably owe you more than anyone for my relatively small amount of athletic success.
Thank you to Dave Gibson and Chuck Knoles for bringing me to my peak swimming potential and allowing me to compete with the best swimmers in the country. I learned how to commit myself to excellence under your guidance, even if it meant working training past the point of sanity.
Thank you to Marion and Todd Clark, Jeff Berghoff, Eric Stefanski, Tim Beltz, Julian Krug, Chris Webb, and George Heidinger for giving me perfect examples of how to develop swimmers at high level when I started coaching.
Thank you to Jeremy Wilken, Robin Barbiea, Kevin Weldon, Gary Galbreath, Steve Haugen, Jim Matson, and Beth Carstens for making my time in Ohio a transformative one. I learned that athletes can do amazing things if you give them what they need, even if they don't necessarily know they need it. The four years I spent coaching for hours on deck were some of the most rewarding years I've had, even if I'm still catching up on sleep!
Moving out of the pool and into my current realm of triathlon, thank you to Jim Skirboll, Matt Russ, Bob Flannigan, Dave Luscan, and Ed Boyle for showing me how to be a well-rounded coach and how to keep learning every day.
I'm by no means worthy to be associated with the people above, but I'm working hard to get there. Thank you if you read through all of this sentimental reminiscing. I've procrastinated writing training plans long enough... Back to work. Always back to work.