Just Getting Old

A couple of posts ago I made a reference to one of my favorite swim coaching memories.  And then over the weekend, one of the Alumni asked if she could have a record back because of my original post about the illegal suits that are now banned.  It too lead to a great story.

It made me start thinking about all the great things that have happened in the past 20 seasons.  And it really is hard to pinpoint an all time favorite or even put them in any sort of ranking.  When you have coach over 330 kids and been in that many meets, it makes it tough.  So I am not going to try.

Just going to list some of my all time favorite stories.  And these will be things that happened in the pool or pool area, and not the cool extra things like be confirmation sponsors (twice) and going to weddings.

The list must include this story.  And the sidebar that I told Amy that we could go to her favorite place in Madison to eat afterwards if she did win an event.  We ended up at Ella’s Deli.

Game Face!

The list must include Jordon Momsen making it to State in 2008.  She was our lead sprinter all season.  And was progressing well.  Then on the weekend of conference her Grandfather passed away.  She missed practice Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday leading to Sectionals. Got in for a little on Thursday.  And then just did a meet warm up on Friday. I told her that she would be fine, but deep down I had never seen anybody do this physically and the emotional toll was tough on her. She was seeded 9th overall at the Waukesha South pool so she was in the middle of the second faster heat.  Jordon had great start (one of those starts where it looks like everyone else was standing still and she was flying through the air) and was a full body ahead of the field, and when you are 6 feet tall, being a full body ahead in the 50 free is Great.  She finished 4th overall in the 50 and got to swim at  State.

Coach and Mel Kel at the Nat

The list must include Melissa Kelley making it to state in 1997.  Mel was a sophomore and her older sister was a junior.  A junior that was heading into the end of the season being a top 10 seed in the 200 IM, 1oo Fly, and the 100 Free.  She could pick her swims.  But Heather had one of the worst conference meets ever.  She said she was tired and warn down.  She went to the Doctor and found out she had Mononucleosis.  The two of them were very close.  Heather was out of the meet and she was our emotional leader.  As a sophomore, Melissa needed to step up.  Heather was so sick, she could not even come to the meet to cheer Melissa or the team on.  Melissa ended up winning the 200 Freestyle and 100 Freestyle and anchored the two free relays to make it four swims at the state meet.

The list must include Christy Maciolek winning the 100 Breaststroke at the Private School State Championship Meet in 1993 at Madison Edgewood High School.  The win allowed us to clinch the meet and to win every single event in the meet.  ((Yes the 400 Free Relay was next but we were loaded))  She had been swimming in a funk leading up to that meet and was in Lane 1.  She won the race and I yelled really loud.  And it happened to be at a time when the rest of the pool was quite.  I am sure Christy knows exactly what I said.  At the time that swim was a school record.

What was this about?

The list must include Nicole Bennett at Sectionals in 2009 in the 200 IM and 100 Breast.  I think it was her best high school meet ever.  She had a great summer season but I was worried that being a captain and school work was taking its tool during the course of the season.  Some swims were good, some were not so hot.  It was a do or die meet, we knew that the times she was swimming were going to be borderline to make it.  She finished 5th in IM and 4th in the Breaststroke to make it to State.

The list must include the 1995 WIAA Sectionals.  There was so much drama surrounding the pending shut down of WISAA and how the two sports associations would merge and swimming was one of the early sports to allow the private schools into the WIAA Tournament series.  The Sectional was at Nicolet and the awards were to be given out after the next event as is usually at most meets.  DSHA wins the 200 Medley Relay.  Then DSHA wins the 200 Free.  The awards for the 200 Medley are handed out and people applaud, almost in a mocking style of “that is nice that they can win something”.  Then DSHA wins the 200 IM.  The awards for the 200 Free are handed out and there are a few less people cheering because they can sense this is not going to be good long term.  The 50 free is swam but DSHA does not win, but before the break the 200 IM awards are handed out and really the only people cheering were from Dasher Nation.

Grand Opening Towel

Then there are the list of others….like in 1995 Coach Pulvermaucher dropped his cell phone in the Milwaukee Lutheran pool and instead of jumping in to get it, I called his phone and watched it ring a couple times before it died.   The list must include all the times staying over at Michelle’s parents house before the big meet.  The list must include the year we had reversible suits and warmed up in one color and then changed into a different color for the meet.  The list must include Bridget Hegarty swallowing a gallon of water in one her best swims ever and fall short of going under a minute in the 100 fly.  The list must include both Emily Stapleton and Amy Mickschl swimming the 500 Free doing backstroke and both of them going 5:25.  The list must include opening the new Cedarburg pool back in 2002 against my good friend Coach Steve Keller.

I am sure that I am missing some other great stories.  These were ones that involved the water.  There are more life lessons learned out of the water that could be an entire posting by itself.  There are probably some Laura Myers or Julie Berg or Karen Sowinksi or one of the 4 Wallach’s or Annie Conforti or Lindsay Stedman story that could easily be on here.  These were just the ones that came to my head.

Stay on Target

There are times in life where a leader must set the course.  And there are going to be naysayers, haters, detractors in the crowd.  They may be verbal and they may be quiet.  And sometimes this leader, either appointed or hired or had the title thrust upon them, must embrace the opportunity in front of them.  That person must Set the Objectives, Have a Strong Vision for the Success, Communicate the blueprints for Execution, and then Carry out the Details.

At times the journey is a lonesome one.  At times, the leader may question if they are doing the correct thing.  At times, there is a key blow to the leader that puts them at a distinct disadvantage, or a key piece of their character is questioned or even severely physically injured.  It is also crucial that the Leader call upon their top assistants and aids and confidants and friends and mentors to help them get through the difficult times.  They may even have thoughts of ending the journey because of the work required to be successful.

But alas, the leader picks themselves up.  Wakes up each morning and attacks the next day.  They answer the critics either through thoughts, words, or actions.  They Stay on Target and then take themselves to yet a higher level.

Life is hard.  No one said it was going to be easy.  You must work smart and have strong desire.

I have seen this in my personal life, and I have seen it happen to those around me.  Only a strong individual can survive this.  And only a person that can learn from their mistakes can be that strong.

Yes Luke Skywalker is just a character in a movie.  But being the Head Coach of a High School swim team is real.  Being a PTO Leader is real.  Being a Husband and Father is real.  Being a Day Camp Director is real.  Being the Captain on a Varsity Team is real.  Being a Service Manager is real.  Being a Wife and Mother is real.  All require the challenge of being a great leader.

Billy Arcement posted today that “Great Leaders are reliable and responsible.  They get the job done and they do it well”

Although this is not always defining me….I sure do try to strive for it every single day!