It Has Been a Great Ride

Then the clock reached the 90th minute, marking the end of the game. The end of the season. And the end of a high school athletic career.

We LOVED watching you play.

Being a high school athlete is not easy. Being one in the Classic 8 Conference adds another level of difficulty. A scholar athlete, yet another piece of complexity. Having your Dad be the Coach for half of the year adds more. Coming back from surgery to a part of your body required to succeed in both sports just adds to it.  But you did it.

We LOVED watching you play.

You were able to have great coaches in your life that molded, mentored, encouraged, challenged, assisted, took chances, made you expand your horizons. Coach Worzella, Coach Perugini, Coach Hauser, and Coach Ksobiech in soccer. Then on the swim side, it was the holy trinity of female coaches with Coach Sarah, Coach Jordon, and Coach Elle. Not sure what we would have done all four years without them.

We LOVED watching you play.

We had a series of ups and downs over the past four years. And I learned as season 2 was going on that I wanted to be your Dad at meets when you swam. We hardly disagreed on what was best for the team or for you during that time. You were Captain for 2 seasons but in reality had it figured out what makes a team click after freshman season. That was your leadership coming out.

We LOVED watching you play.

Many things we could not have predicted would happen.  Your coach swimming you in JV your first high school meet because he was not sure what was going to happen – it was the 200 IM. Having your first prom as a Sophmore on your birthday after two soccer games that were over an hour away. Most would not have handled that as well as you did. Hating butterfly moved to being a love and a key to breaking the school record and going to State twice. Tearing your ACL and recovering mentally and physically from it. Being named Prom Queen after being told you did not need to wear your brace a couple days earlier. A tough senior swim season not being at 100 percent leading to being named Female Athlete of the Year. Making 17 saves in one game and then a PK the next. There is more. But these jump out as things that we will always keep in the front of our minds.

We LOVED watching you play.

We took a ton of pictures with the new camera. And more with our iPhones. You have some of the best senior pictures ever with your sports shots. Thanks Jason!!  

We created a ton of memories. We had some pretty awesome talks about life. We had a ton of laughs mixed in with some tears. We had a pretty good run at this student-athlete thing. And if Thursday is the last time you lace up your cleats or put the goggles on competitively, we just want you to remember one thing….

We LOVED watching you play.

Then it Was Over

img_8060The 26th season as a head coach came to and an end on Saturday. Now I am left trying to wrap my head around the fact that we will not be able to watch Anna swim on a regular basis anymore in high school.

The journey was a great one with plenty of ups and downs. Something that I wish every parent could experience. Our relationship grew each day. We challenged each other to get better. We struggled. We succeeded. It was hard and it happened every day. Some of it was together, while at other times, we each had to figure it out on our own.

I know she has plenty of fast swims still in her as she moves forward. Forward being at a yet undetermined college that will probably be more than 3 hours away.

There are plenty of you that have sent your kids off to college after the enjoyment of watching them play their high school sport. There are probably some of you that were able to coach your own kid at some point as well. You can probably relate to some of this.

This past season was by itself its own journey:

  • Torn ACL on April 7th.
  • Surgery seven weeks later on May 26th
  • Went to Girl Scout Camp – walked without crutches for a week on June 12th
  • Back in the water for a mere 25 meters, 7 weeks after that on July 21st
  • Swam every day between July 24th and the 28th during our contact days
  • Season for High School started August 9th
  • 30 physical therapy sessions between the surgery and August 30th
  • Cleared for everything at the beginning of October
  • Swam the 100 Butterfly and 100 Breaststroke at the Conference and Sectionals

Back on April 8th, the day after it was torn, we came up with #NoOffDays. We each knew that she was the only one that could do the work to make it back.  She had to both push herself and at the same time know her limits. Not go to fast or too quick while staying inside the parameters set by the athletic trainer and the Doctor.

I think this struggle and determination during this stage of her life will end up paying large dividends later. She should be able to draw on the experience to make her stronger. To know and to understand the full impact of what it means to work hard and to get close to the results that you worked for. To know your own limits while still being able to push to the next level. To be able to set goals and fall a bit short.  Not a failure but rather a learning experience. Anna’s goal was to make it back to State, and she fell a bit short.  But it was not because of lack of effort or lack of will.

This is the part that I will miss most.  Her ability to stay focused on her goals, while at the same time showing full support of everyone else around her on the team. If that was one thing that I was able to impress upon her over 4 years – that the team is more important than the individual – then I did succeed as the parent/coach.

The best part about this story is that on Monday, I get to start this exact same journey a second time. This time with Luke. We can only hope that he is ready for the ride!

6 Weeks Out

First Time Back in the Water since March
We are now 6 weeks out and the next check up with the DR was today.

Things have been progressing well and she is now able to walk down a stair, with assistance, with the repaired leg. Anna has said that it takes more muscle to walk down stairs than it does to walk up stairs.

She is still going to see the physical therapist two times a week.  PT has recommended that she try to get into the weight room at North to get on the stationary bike and/or to work on the leg sled to get one extra day in.  Going to PT twice a week is a minimum.  We are working on a plan for that.

Tuesday of this week Anna got back in the water briefly and swam about a 600. Actually, she pulled the entire time.  She said it felt good to get back into the water.  She got in again on Wednesday and felt the same excitement. It will be a long road to get the strength and confidence back, but if anyone can do it, she can.

And the best news….the Doctor cleared her for everything except for breaststroke kick for a while. This is extremely exciting.

The plan will be to gradually add more swimming each week so we can be ready for contact days at the end of the month and the season starting on August 9
It also means that she can probably go back to work life guarding at the YMCA.

Next Adventure

To say the past 2 months have been exciting would be an understatement to say the least.

Quit a job, give a speech at National Conference, Spring Break, Start a new Job, Anna starts the season as the Varsity soccer goalie, get asked to give not 1 or 2 more speeches because of the previous speech but rather 3, Anna becomes Prom Queen, Luke goes to his first HS sports meeting.


But the new adventure for Anna and for Team Bedalov starts tomorrow at 9:15AM.  That is when the surgery is going to start to repair her torn ACL.  The first couple therapy sessions and the post surgery follow up visit are also already scheduled.

She knows that the hard part is front of her and that she controls the future.  Team Bedalov along with other family and friends will be a great support mechanism to encourage and challenge her, but this will be her greatest challenge in her life up to this point.

I often hear people say that adversity builds character.  But in this case, I know she is strong and determined. It is evident on how she has approached this entire process thus far and telling me that she would play soccer again next year as a senior. I see it every day.

Although I am sure she does not know what she is in for, I know her character is well in tact.  In this case, I think that this adversity is going to reveal more parts of Anna’s character to come to the surface and help define who she is as a young woman.

This is where we will be posting updates on her knee.  I told her that she should start an Instagram or Twitter account for her knew and she just laughed at me.

One thing is for sure….we are all looking forward to when we can see this again.


25th Season is Underway

Looking back to the spring of 1991 is not always an easy thing to do.  But that is when a young Athletic Director took a chance and hired me to a Head Coach of a Varsity swim team that was in just its second year of existence. At no time did I ever think we would get to season number 25.

The thoughts running through my head after being hired were that of “this cannot be too hard” and “coaching girls should be a piece of cake”.  After the first meet, which was a 61-108 beat down from Catholic Memorial at Carroll College, reality set it.217728_1006594377352_6624_n

Coaching has brought so many great people into my life and my families lives that it is almost unthinkable of what we could be doing if I did not have my “fun” job. The memories, both in and out of the pool, are nothing we would trade away. With 26 different coaches on staff and 406 athletes with 32 sets of siblings, the memories are a full spectrum. But lets try to remember a couple of fun ones……

Bridget and Annie coming to see me in the hospital after knee surgery, Michelle writing breathe on the palm of her hand, having reversible suits and switching them from Black to Red after warmups were over, Amy’s Dad coming to the Parent Meeting with a slip of paper with her times on it and asking me if she would be on Varsity, Christy winning the 100 Breast from lane 1 to win every event at the Private School Championships, all the years staying at the Wendrick’s compound for State, Heather getting Mono, the 3 Monkeys as freshman, Myers’ transferring in, one word IceBerg, AVS making it to the podium for diving, girls missing practice for – wait for it – Hunters Safety, Coach Kris’ laugh, Emily going to Harvard, awesome ornaments from Ms. Paintbrush, Smet anchoring a relay at State that set a school record, Tisa eating before all of her big races, being a Confirmation sponsor for Mel and for Alison, have one season with 2 Lauras and a Lauren along with 2 Megans a Meghan and 2 Stephanies, then telling Peggy I was leaving.  That was the first 16 years.

10171670_10154846110140338_8571256155682633930_nThen it has been Pineapple Relay, Mean Girls, Molly Pop, Franchise, striped pants, a season with three Jessicas a Jamie, Jillian and a Jordon, Friendship Box, not understanding how big Band is in Waukesha, Alumni Meets, Brianna’s awesome Gatorade bottle throwing skills, the new scoreboard, Swim-a-Pooloza, new work out boards, college signings, 4 Athletic directors, now all the way to coaching my own kid.

Laughed a bunch as I was typing these.  They are in the front of my mind like they happened yesterday. Yet in the same breath there are so many people that we should thank for being part of an awesome ride up to this point.

Thanks to Michelle and Team Bedalov for making it all possible.  A great, solid family behind the coach makes a big difference.  A coach’s wife is never an easy job. In the early years, the kids came to everything. They associated things by what the pools looked like.

Thanks to Peggy for taking a chance and hiring me back in 1991 and to Dan for doing the same in 2007.

Thanks to the three employers that believed in helping the community as much as they did.  Pat, Joe and Paul at River Run Computers.  Howard and Diane at Cooper Power Systems.  And Steve and Pat at BPI Color.

Thanks to all of the awesome families that have been supportive, have invited us into their lives away from the pool, invited us to their kids weddings, and have hosted so many team dinners.

Starting year 25…not done yet. There is still a ton of things to accomplish and memories to create.


Coaching Clinic

FullSizeRenderBeing a Coach for a long time, I have seen a great number of things happen in the sport of swimming all the way from training tools to stealth suits to wedges on starting blocks to the elimination of going past 15m under water. So, when I went to the Central States Swim Clinic this past weekend with Anna, I was looking forward to being able to see the new cutting edge material.

The clinic featured Olympian Josh Davis, Katie Ledecky’s club coach Bruce Gemmell, University of Texas Head Coach Carol Capitani, USC Head Coach Dave Salo, along with a couple others.

There was a great deal of technical things discussed and I have some strong ideas on how to incorporate them into my program, but the other part was what I call the non-swimming pieces that these people brought forward. Things that I attempt to do on a daily, weekly, seasonal basis with my team.  Things that reinforced to me that the way we run our program in Waukesha are the right way.

Coach Capitani had a quote from American Photographer Maggie Steber on the board that read “Its more about how you connect with people and everybody does that in a different way.”  Connecting with people and understanding them each day is something I value at home and on my teams.

Her notes for working with her team included:

  • Don’t trample on people
  • Always be Authentic
  • Be direct. Say it

Coach Gemmell had two quotes that hit home with me when he was talking about thinking long term with our athletes.

  1. “There is no market for fast 10 year olds”  This was in reference to kids that are that age and swimming club practices 6 times a week and think that they should be moved up to 8 practices a week.  We need to be discouraging “sports specialization” in the early years. They athletes need to be working on basic body movement.
  2. Parent – “My kid is a sprinter”  Coach – “No. Your kid is a swimmer”   Need to swim all of the events 🙂

Josh Davis was in one of the last sessions and was talking about his past and what he is doing now.  He reiterated that he was a late bloomer in the sport and claims that he did not have a legal breaststroke kick when graduating 8th grade.  But he gave all the credit for his success to Coach Fletcher who was his age group coach.  “When he believed in me…that is when I started believing in myself” 

What a fantastic reminder to keep preaching to your athletes!

There is a strong chance that I will be going to more clinics like this to make sure that I am staying on top of my game when it comes to pieces like this as well as the technical items.

End of the Season

The 2014 high school swimming season will come to a conclusion this Saturday afternoon in Madison. It will mark the end of my 7th season at Waukesha North and my 24th season overall. It will also be the end of Anna’s 2nd high school season.

The season started off pretty well. A couple meets in we were swimming pretty well.10671280_10154822190235338_1521554855841116107_n

Then a thing called Patellofemoral Stress Syndrome was introduced to our vocabulary.

We initially took Anna to see the trainer at North High School.  She works for Orthopedic Associates.  We then took her to see my brother who has a masters in Physical Therapy.  He confirmed the diagnosis.

We then took Anna to the Advanced Practice Nurse Prescriber at Children’s Hospital in Wauwatosa.  She confirmed what we already knew, but

The APNP prescribed 99 sessions of therapy.  I am pretty sure that is code to keep going until we get this resolved.

Last week, Michelle and Anna went to an evaluation at the ProHealth Care at Westwood with the therapist.  The exercises she’s been doing with the Waukesha North trainer every day for 45 minutes before practice the past 7 weeks have been good. The therapist gave her some other things to try and she’ll talk with the North trainer about more things she can do.

While this was all going on for the past 7 weeks, we have had meets and invites. But the training schedule that Anna was on was less than optimal for high impact swimming, with the goal of making it to the State Championship.

We carried a note along to every meet to let the officials know that we had approval from a trainer to have Kinesio tape on when competing. By rule this is not allowed by the NFHS or the WIAA without authorized permission from an authorized source.

The first meet in the last 6 that she was able to swim the full slate of her events was the Conference Meet. And considering everything we had gone through, she swam really well and mentally cleared a big hurdle.

Then this past Saturday came. It is the Sectional Qualifier, and is your only chance to make it to the State Championship Meet.  Our best chance to make it was the 200 Medley Relay with Anna being a key leg of the relay.

DSC04368-2And she came through looking like a champ. Swam her split in a lifetime best, then wen on to swim three more times, with one more lifetime best in the 100 Butterfly.

The rest and more therapy will now need to wait one more week because the relay made it to State!

There are no guarantees in life. And she and I talked about it on the way home from the meet Saturday. Need to make sure you savor every moment like this because you never really know when they will happen again.

As a parent and as a coach this has been one of the more stressful seasons for me in a long time. It is always hard to gauge when any kid is in pain, and it is worse when it is your kid. You can see the potential and the effort she puts in, but then the pain is too much. Too much for a 15 year old to go through.

Once the meet is over on Saturday, we are going to start to rest and heal. Physically for sure. Probably a little mentally as well. And that is for both of us.

A personal HUGE THANKS to everyone this season for their support and assistance this season!