Swimming and diving for the high school teams come to an apex this weekend at the WIAA Sectionals. For my team, we travel across town to Waukesha South. And with the end of the season come some so called “traditions”.
I am not a person that does not like these customs as the season comes to a conclusion, but for me they have to be something that gives significant impact to the overall success of the program.
When I took over the program here 5 years ago we went to a meet where the last event was called the “Pineapple” Relay. I believe it was eight kids each swimming a 50 freestyle. The top three teams had each kid receive a fresh pineapple.
As is customary most of the time, I post the line up a couple days before the meet for the team to review and ask questions. We take the bus ride out to the meet and I pass around the lineup one more time for the team to see what they are swimming and to double check their position on the relays. Then the question comes up “How come the seniors are all not on the Pineapple Relay? It is a tradition!”
Almost like a ticking time bomb, I explode into action. I “calmly” explain that I do not believe in traditions that do not put the team first and do not put us as a TEAM in the best position to succeed. At that point the tone of the team and the demeanor of what we were doing changed for the better.
Whether you like them or not, when I think of tradition, I think of Notre Dame Football. Why? Over time, they are synonymous with WINNING. Not that winning is the most important thing, but they are also a great symbol of respect, confidence, and high character values that help mold young people into great leaders.
That is the same thing that we are trying to do on the Women’s Swimming and Diving team. We are giving these young adults the opportunity to become great leaders.
As for the traditions, I really do not refer to them as such any more. Mine are more like “Guidelines to Being Successful”. That is because each year and each team is different in its own way. A good deal of the things we do are carried over from year to year, but it is because they are things that work for us. Not because they are traditions.