This week marked the beginning of the summer competitive season for the Cozad Swim Team. Every day for the next two months I will trade my dirty cowboy boots for flip flops and walk onto the pool deck as a coach. I view mentoring these kids as one of my greatest blessings, and the hours that I spend coaching on deck are the highlight of my summer.
I love the sport of swimming. I found and defined myself somewhere along the hundreds of thousands of laps swum during my teenage years. While I am proud of my competitive accomplishments, I am more proud of the tenacity that I learned from the journey. Today, I still find peace moving the water and the pool continues to hold a special place in my heart.
Sharing this love with 60 young members of my community puts a special twinkle in my eye. I spend the summer watching my athletes attain mental, emotional, and physical strength. Amidst the shared smiles, high fives, and hard work they learn the joy of fitness — the importance of perseverance – the confidence that comes from learning to believe.
While I love medals and victories just as much as my kids, as a coach I recognize that these are simply the icing on the cake. As I teach my swimmers to compete, I teach much more than simply how to win the race.
- That training hard builds self-respect just as much as muscle.
- That being a good teammate builds a culture where everyone thrives.
- That laughing in the face of challenge — as you conquer the challenge — is good for the soul.
- That setting goals so that your hard work has a purpose enables you to attain greatness.
- That excellence is not about comfort – It is about reaching above and beyond your capabilities in order to accomplish far more than your dreams.
Somewhere along the journey, together we both find purpose and fulfillment. Last winter I wrote about how much I love the George Strait song “I Saw God Today”. During the summer months, I see God in these kids every day as they figure out how to believe in themselves and work to build the self-respect that ensures them success.
Twenty years from now, they likely will not remember their times or places at the Championship meet.
My hope is that they will remember to love themselves, respect their peers, and
ALWAYS — ALWAYS persevere in the face of challenge.