My favorite Cowgirl/Chef announced at dinner Saturday night, “Mom, you’re a hard ass”. While her choice of language was not entirely acceptable to me; within the context of the dinner table discussion, I really could not argue with her statement. The conversation that night focused on the fourth swim meet of the season and my coaching *style*.
During the summer months, I periodically take off my feed yard manager/Boss Lady hat and put on my Swim Team Coach hat. On weekdays, I can be found on the community pool deck from 11:25 to 12:45 for practice; and I am at a pool somewhere in Nebraska almost every Saturday in June and July at our weekly swim meets.
My girls and I became involved with the Plains tSunami swim league four years ago joining up with a neighboring community program in Gothenburg (the town 5 miles west of the feed yard). Today, with the help of two other coaches and a couple of wonderful “managers”, our team touches more than 60 children in the Gothenburg and Cozad communities.
I have been a volunteer youth athletic coach for many different sports in the 16 years since I graduated from college, but swim team is my favorite. There is no doubt that the sport that I dedicated my life to for more than a decade holds a special place in my heart. However, my love for coaching this group of kids goes deeper than that.
There is something about a pool of water and a pair of goggles that teaches young people that the ultimate source of power comes from within. When the going gets tough, it is quite literally, a matter of sinking or swimming. While I have many athletes that spend most of the year exceling in sports other than swimming, I know that the summer days spent training in the water do more than bring a new level of fitness to their bodies. Those hours build their confidence and make them believers.
As Megan so pointedly noted on Saturday evening at the dinner table, I am a challenging coach. I expect my athletes to not only work hard but also to believe in themselves. I ask them to do things that raise the bar higher.
I want them to learn that life is an open door for them—that they can accomplish their dreams if only they will work hard and believe in themselves.
While I am intense and likely a bit intimidating when I put on my *coaching hat*, the truth is that my athletes excel not only physically but also mentally under my tutelage. With every race that they win or every PR that they swim, the athletes learn that they control their own destiny. I treasure the expressions of personal victory that I see so often on their faces.
What my swimmers may not realize is that as I watch their successes, I have to pull my baseball cap down just a little bit further so that they will not see the tears in my eyes—tears of pride and of joy that come as I watch them become believers.