Pat Hogan is Certified ASCA Level 5-USS and is currently the Head Coach of Mecklenburg Aquatic Club in Charlotte, NC. Pat returned to swimming in 1988 after a two year recess, to a coaching position at Trinity Aquatics in Orlando, Florida. Previously Coach Hogan was the Head Coach and architect of the Dynamo Swim Club in Atlanta, Dynamo having won
13 State and 8 Southern Region Senior Championships. During the same time, the team achieved national prominence by producing 28 Senior National qualifiers, six National finalists, five World Ranked swimmers, and three U.S. National Team members. In addition to his coaching, Pat has been quite active in the administration of swimming at both the local and national levels, serving 011 the USS National Board of Directors.
Good morning. It is a pleasure to be here today and have the opportunity to speak to you. I sincerely appreciate your interest and your attendance this early hour. The last time I spoke at an ASCA clinic was here in DC back in 1990. On that particular occasion, I was slotted for a four o’clock time on Saturday afternoon on the last day of the clinic. I told John that I appreciated my seating position this time much more.
Before I get started, I want to tell you about how and when John Leonard first asked me to make this presentation. I was sitting in my office in Orlando less than a week after I accepted the Mecklenburg position a little over a year ago today. John calls me and says I got an idea and I wanted to see if you would like to help me out. I said, “Sure, what is it.” Mind you that this is the Tuesday after Labor Day last year. He said, “Would you be interested in chronicling everything that you do this year in Charlotte and make a presentation next year at the clinic about your first year at Mecklenburg.” My immediate reaction was not to say yes or no, but to say, “John, doesn’t this year’s clinic start tomorrow?” “Yes.” I could not believe that the day before last year’s clinic he was already trying to plan speakers and topics for this year’s clinic. I can assure you that as I sat in my room yesterday, putting the finishing touches on this presentation, I have not yet thought about what I am going to be doing one year from today. But, I guess it is good to know that our executive director is thinking and planning that far in advance.
I want to start off by thanking a number of individuals who have been very, very helpful to me this first year in making the transition from Orlando to Charlotte. First off I have to start by thanking my wife Diane. Anytime you make a transition like we did, there is a Jot of personal sacrifice that you don’t really anticipate on the front end of making a change like that. I am going to talk a little about that at one point of the talk. Diane has been incredible selfless, incredible unselfish, great attitude, has been wonderful about the transition. I just can’t say enough good things about her input and her help in this whole process. I also want to thank my staff at MAC. I basically inherited a staff totally intact. They have been an outstanding group of people, willing to work far beyond the call of duty to get the job done, willing to make the changes that I ask them to make. Their attitude and work ethics throughout the whole process has just been absolutely wonderful. I would like to take a moment to introduce those of my staff that are present. My assistant senior coaches are Patty Huey and Ken Vote. You guys Stand up a second. My head age group coach is Ray Hunt, my assistant age group coach is Eileen Eddings and the newest member of our staff, the head coach of our Davidson location is Kathy McKee. It is a great group of people who have done a super job this past year and I really appreciate everything that you have done, guys. I also want to compliment my predecessor at Mecklenburg, Jeff Gaeckle. When Jeff first _went to Charlotte in the early ’80’s, the Mecklenburg program was a young program. It was a growing program. It struggled to find swimmers and find pool time. When he left the program last year in 1993, I think he had built one of the finest swimming organizations in all the country. And it certainly was one of the reasons I was very interested in going into that job. I just can’t say enough nice things about the job that Jeff has done and the resource that he has been for me this past year. It certainly was a loss to the coaching profession.
Before I get into the talk, I want to outline, for you, the scope of the Mecklenburg program. For those of you that might not be familiar with our organization, I think it would help you to understand a little bit about it, to understand what I was trying to do my first year there. We have about 275 swimmers at our main location. They are divided into twelve different practice groups. I have a fairly large coaching staff. I have five full time assistant coaches and I have five additional part-time coaches. In terms of running our facility, I have one full time employee and two people best described as three quarter’s time, and anywhere at any given point in time, twelve to twenty part-time facility staff–<depending on the time of year and the programs in place at that point in time. We own and operate our own 3000 square foot indoor swimming facility. We have a 25 yard by 50 meter pool that affords us ten long course lanes and twenty-two short course lanes for training. We are starting this fall; one satellite program at Davidson College that we hope will have 75 swimmers, divided into five practice levels. We have a seasonal competitive swimming program that each fall and spring has about 100 swimmers that participate in it, over and above the 275 in our year-round program. We run a swim school that last year conducted 2600 sets of swimming lesson. We run a pro shop out of our facility. We have a master’s program. We have an aerobic program-both dry land and in the water. We have a program that we call MAC power, which basically is strength training in a fitness program that we conduct at our facility. Each year in June we conduct the Charlotte Ultra Swim, which is a major undertaking. For those of you that have not been to that meet, the effort and manpower and hours of preparation that goes into that event is very similar to what you would do for national championships. So it is a big undertaking. As we look to 1994, our overall budget for this coming year projects revenues in excess of $700,000 and only $300,000 of that comes from team dues. So as you can see, it is a big program, it was an awful lot for me to get my arms around going into it and I want to talk to you a little bit about how we tried to do that.
You think that every time you go into a new job, you have a lot of choices that you can make on the front end. And as I go through the talk today, I want to tell you about some of the thoughts I had going into the job, some of the choices we made and why. I want to tell you what we did and why we did it and to talk a little bit about if I had a chances to do some things over again what we would do differently. Then at the end of talk, I want to talk about some very specific, I will call them transition issues that I think will be helpful in terms of people making changes looking forward based on experiences that I have had in the past and this past year.
I think, my first ASCA clinic was 1973 in Las Vegas and I have been to a number of these things. I know the kind of talks that I most enjoy and get the most out of are those talks where people tell me actually what they do and why they do it. I have always tried to use that same philosophy in making presentations myself. What we are going to do today is to tell you what we did and to try to give you some ideas why we chose to do the things we did and the way we did them. There is a hand out in the back of the room if you did not get a chance to pick that up yet. The first page basically outlines the entire talk and the remaining pages I have pull out of the outlines, specific pieces that I thought would be of more interest to you in greater detail. (These are included in 3 pages at the end of this transcription).
I accepted the Mecklenburg position last August 27th. My responsibilities in Orlando precluded me from taking the position until October 4th. At one point I thought that it was going to be real problem. In retrospect, having that time afforded me the opportunity to really think about what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. Going through the interview process and meeting the folks before I was offered the position, things like philosophy and personality and making sure that those issues were correct, those were all addressed at that point in time. I had no concerns or questions about there being a good match and a good mesh of philosophies and personalities going into it. Once I had accepted the job and was going into it, the critical issues at that point became, deciding how to take charge, how to affect change as I did so. During the four to five weeks that I had before I actually took the position, I did make two trips to Charlotte. I took one trip on Labor Day weekend to meet the staff and visit with them and also to conduct some interviews for positions that we needed to fill. I also made one other trip back to Charlotte the very first two days of practices to meet the swimmers and kind of get the season off to a good start. But I basically was not there for the first four or five weeks after I took the job. During that time, I thought a lot about what I wanted to do. I want to share some of the thoughts that I had during that time and actually subsequent to that and kind of brain storming in preparation for the transition.
One of the things I realized and thought about going in-I tried to be sensitive to the fact that nobody likes change. It isn’t easy for anybody and it is probably harder to follow a new leader than to be the new leader himself or herself. I think it is also important when you go into any kind of new situation that you got to sell people on the idea that change presents opportunity. Again, nobody likes to change. But if you can give them a reason to work with you and react to the change and make them aware that there are some opportunities involved, it’s an easier sell job. I think as you go into a new coaching job, you don’t want to just take what you have been doing and bring it with you. I think a critical issue is to apply your experiences to the new situation. Some combination of what you have been doing and what already has been done there is probably the best combination. Every place is different. Every place has its own culture and has developed its own ways of doing things over the course of time. I thought it was important in my particular situation, going into a fairly established program that had a nice tradition of success, that I demonstrate a lot of respect for what had been done and what had preceded me. Obviously, those people had been working in that community doing things there for a long time before me, and they probably knew a little bit more about it than I did. I tried to take my time and tried to understand why things were being done the way they were before deciding to make any changes. I think you also can not be afraid of conflict. You’re not going to make everybody happy going into a new situation and you can expect to.
At some talk that I listened to in the past, perhaps it was Mark Schubert, I’m not positive, Mark talked about when you are going into a new situation, you need to decide up-front how tough you want to be. Because once you establish the level of discipline you are going to enforce, it is very difficult to get harder. It is always easier to relax a little bit. But one of the things I thought about going in, was just exactly how tough I wanted to be going in and what kind of impact I wanted to have that way. I think, also, as you are going into a new situation; probably it is a good philosophy all the time, you need to look for opportunities to praise people. There is no better way to develop a rapport with people than to make them feel good about themselves. I can still remember the first time that I meet one particular young lady in my squad at MAC. She had an absolutely beautiful smile. I complimented her about her smile and I know that that had to make an immediate impact on her and make her feel good.
The other advice that I have is; don’t judge people on first impressions. I don’t feel like that all the time that the way people first come off to you is really indicative of their true personality.
The other point that I would make along those lines is if it is real obvious that people are trying too hard to make a positive impression, you need to look out for those people. Finally, I think the most important thing that I thought about going into the job was that it is essential to bring a lot of energy into a new position. One of your most critical challenges of a new leader going into a new organization is to energize those around you. Your swimmers and your staff are not going to work harder than you do. You need to set the standard for which you expect them to perform. Leadership is action, not position.
After thinking about some of those thoughts and reflecting a little bit about how I wanted to do things, the next step was to choose a takeover approach. I think going into any new situation, there are a number of ways you can assume leadership. A lot of people feel like you need to go in and totally take over, effect total and immediate change, and do things by your personality and your way. I think probably, in some situation where there has not been a tradition of success; where you can think of any number of professional sports or college athletic programs that have not been successful for a long period of time, that approach would probably be very effective. One of the things I tried to do on my two visits to Charlotte prior to being there full time was to make a quick assessment about the situation. I let my experiences from those two occasions help me understand exactly the best way to go about it. And certainly I felt like, to come in full force and try to just change everything to be the way I wanted it to be was not the most effective way to approach it. Another approach would be the “don’t rock the boat approach”-to come in and just basically leave things in place as they were and just try to make the transition as smooth and as easy as possible without [my change whatsoever. And I think there are probably situations where that is appropriate. I think if you’re going into the new situation on an interim bases, that would be the appropriate way to go about it. If you are moving from the #2 to the #1 position, in a situation that has been very successful, perhaps after somebody retires, something to that effect, than that particular approach might be very effective there too. In our particular situation, I did not think that was the most effective way to go about it. The approach that I chose to take would be what I would call the “subtle change artist.” What I chose to do was to go into Mecklenburg, ask a lot of questions, gather a Jot of information and get a fee! for what was already going on. Then as I got a handle on the situation, got my arms around it and understood the culture, the people, why things were being done the way they were being done, to slowly but surely make the changes that I wanted to make. People buy into subtle change much quicker and much easier. Particularly they have had some choice in the decision making process to make those changes. I guess in swimming terms, you could describe the approach that I took as a negative split approach. I chose to go in there and take it very easily and assert myself more and more as I earned the support and established my credibility within the organization.
Each time you go into a new situation, you need to do a program assessment and it needs to be analyzed. If you refer to the second page of your handout, I have outlined very specifically for you there, some of the things that we felt we needed to get a handle on very quickly and the way that we chose to <lo that. I think the assessment process never ends. As coaches we have to be constantly monitoring our program and making adjustments as we see necessary. I think on the front end there is an awful lot of information to simulate, a lot of things to understand. Some of the things that I thought were important right off the bat, obviously, was to get to know my coaching staff, their strengths, their weaknesses, their likes and their dislikes, and to understand their particular role in our organization. I wanted to, obviously, get to know the athletes as quickly as I could, not just the athletes in my particular practice group, but throughout the program. With a program as big as ours, that obviously takes a lot of time. It was important for me to understand the program structure and the training levels within our program, and the content at each of those practice levels. I needed to get a handle on the practice schedule, how it fit into the facility schedule and where possibilities might exist for us to add time and make changes in that regard. It was important for me to understand the consistency of coaching throughout our program. To see that we were doing similar things from top to bottom, talking the same kind of language, presenting a united front. That has always been very important to me, wherever I have coached before. It was important to understand the overall team performance level. To see how many “B” swimmers we had, how many “A” swimmers we had, how many junior national qualifiers we had and where those people were positioned throughout the program. I needed to understand the organizational structure. What kind of volunteer committees did we have in place as part of our board of directors? To understand a little bit more about how facility programs other than the swim team were orchestrated and directed and to just get an understanding for the structure of the entire organization. I wanted to get a feel for the existing lines of communication, to see how effectively we were at communicating the things that needed to be communicated. I wanted to understand the demographics of our team. How many IO and under boys did we have? What percentage of our team was 13 and over and 12 and under? How many seniors in high school did we have? How many kids were going to graduate this year? I tried to understand our 275 swimmers, what made up that population. I wanted to understand the team operating policies and procedures. How did we make entries? Who made the hotel reservations? All those kinds of questions that I needed to understand and find out how it had been done in the past. Two final things that might seem rather odd, but were important to me-I wanted to understand if there were any unresolved political issues out there in the organization. Did I have coaches that did not get along with each other? Did I have board members that did not get along with each other? Was there a particular practice level in the program that wasn’t happy about something? What kinds of political issues were out there that could come back and bit me on the butt if I did not get a handle on them. Finally, the other thing that I thought was important was to get to know the community as quickly and as well as I could. I wanted to know what kind of forces were taking place in our community that impacted our team at the present and perhaps in the future. Those were some of the things that we felt were important to understand and to get a handle on.
The way that we chose to do that is outlined in the next Section near #B. I chose to ask as ton of questions to as many people as I possible could, soak up information as I possible could from as many sources as I possible could. I thought it was very important to access peoples’ values, understand what was important to them in a swimming program, what was important to them about the program as it existed. It was important to understand people’s feelings. Were they positive. Were they negative. Were they happy. Were they sad. Were they discontent. It was important to understand their attitudes about the program and what was going on. And perhaps as much as anything, it was important to understand their aspirations. Where did they want this program to take them? What did they actually aspire to do as a member the Mecklenburg Aquatic Club? And in order to try to understand that information and get that information, I talked to a whole host of people.
I talked to swimmers at all levels. I spent a lot of time, obviously, with my own athletes and as much time as I could with others. I spent a tremendous time with the coaching staff. They were my ears out there in the organization and they were a tremendous help to me in simulating this information I kind of giggle as I look at this hand out. It says departed coaches. That doesn’t mean people that have passed on. It is people that have been with the program in the past, particularly in taking with Jeff Gaeckle, my predecessor. I spent a lot of time talking with Jeff and getting his feeling and opinions about things. I talked with board members, both in a formal situation in board meetings and, more importantly, informally at lunches and things of that nature. I tried to talk to other parents in the organization to get a feel for what they thought about things. We are very fortunate in our particular situation to have a whole host of what I would call alumnus parents that are still vitally interested in the program. They spend much volunteer time helping us run meet and what have you. I try to spend time talking with people like that to get their perspective on the history of our organization and the direction it was going and that was very interesting, I found.
I spent some time at Thanksgiving and at Christmas talking with some of our college swimmers, getting their points of view. I also spent some time, maybe, unbeknownst to them talking to the other coaches in our area and getting their reflections about our program and what they saw as our strengths and weaknesses. And the other thing that I did was to try to spend as much time as I could just gobbling up much information about our community, reading the daily newspaper, the Charlotte Observer, reading weekly publications, whatever was out there that I could understand where Charlotte was going and what was going on in our community that affected us.
Once I had done that, and that was a process that took about three or four months at least, talking to people and gathering that information, it was time to establish a game plan. And basically what I started doing as I was talking to people and asking questions, I just started making a list. Eventually that list started to get three or four or five pages long. And those were what I call action items, things that needed to be addressed, things that needed to be worked on. Once that list was fairly complete, we tried to prioritize that list into three categories.
The way that I chose to divide this was immediate targets or the things that I thought I could get done in less than four months, short term objectives, things that I thought would take the rest of the first year, from four to twelve months and long term goals, things that I thought I would not get to until after my first year, that I wanted to get to in the first two years. In setting priorities, normally you would rank things as A’s, B’s or C’s with the A’s being the most important things that you need to do, the B’s being a little less important and the C’s being things that perhaps you never got to. I went about trying to prioritize things perhaps a little bit differently than is normal. I asked myself two questions about each of the action items that I had outlined. I said “Number I, how serious is this problem? How quickly does it need to be fixed.” And that helped me to decide which of the three areas to put it into. And secondly, going back to my original plan of trying to make changes subtly, I asked how painlessly this could be changed. And in some cases, the things that I chose to do the quickest were the things that I thought could be accomplished the easiest. I felt like, if we could make five or six or ten subtle changes that together would have an impact but maybe individually would not be noticed, that was one of the most effective ways to go about it. In terms of trying to prioritize things, that was the process that we went through.
At this point I would stop and say that it is very important that you be flexible. You need to be ready to react to situations and opportunities as they present themselves. I think the more organized you are, the better prepared you are, the easier it is to react to the unexpected. I had one problem and one opportunity presents itself within the first two or three months that I had not planned on and really did not want to deal with then. The situations presented themselves and we had to deal with them. About five weeks after first arriving, the director of our swim school resigned and at first I saw that as a tremendous problem. I did not want to be bothered at first with trying to hire a new swim school director. I wanted to be able to concentrate on the competitive team and focus all my efforts and energies into that direction. In reality, that turned out to be a real opportunity. We put somebody in place that has done a great job in leading our swim school and positioning it to do some great things in the future. We had to make time to do that. It wasn’t part of the original plan. The other situation that presented itself, and was a real opportunity, was the opportunity of create a satellite program at Davidson College. Many of you might know Rich Desound, who is the head coach at Davidson College this past year and longtime assistant coach at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Rich and I first started talking in February about the possibility of starting a satellite program on the north end of town. The Davidson pool is located about 45 minutes north of our facility in Charlotte, 45 minutes on good days, an hour on not so good days. Again, this was not something I really wanted to deal with my first year. That would have been better left for a second year, but the timing was just right. The people and the forces, and thing happening in the community were coming together at a point in time where it just dictated that was something that we needed to look into and spend time on, so we added that to our list of things to do. But I think you have to be flexible for reasons like that.
After we kind of organized everything and put a plan together, it was time to go to work and put it into action. I want to talk to you about the basic assessment that I made, the things that I felt needed to be done and then try to talk about how we tried to go about doing those things.
In general, there were an awful lot of things being done right. It was a very successful program, a lot of organizational policies and procedures were in place. We have a great staff. We have super parental support, a strong talent base, great facilities, a well-developed organization and incredible community support. There was an awful lot more right than there was wrong. But there were a handful of things that I wanted to address and work on. One of the things that I thought was important was to promote greater team unity. In our organization we have twelve practice groups, We made an effort to do some outside activities, to build team camaraderie. We did those by practice groups. The intent, I think, was to do something positive, but what happened was that each practice group almost got to the point, in my opinion, that it had a higher profile in the organization than the organization itself. We wanted to do somethings to try to correct that and bring the focus more on the entire team. I want to try to promote greater consistency throughout the training program, to make sure that the terminology, the drills, the exercises and all the things that we were doing from top to bottom were consistent. I did not want to call one particular stroke drill one name and our age group program call it another and our presenior program a third name and senior another. I wanted our staff to be talking the same language. I thought it was important to foster a stronger work ethic. In looking at what each of the groups were doing, it was important, I thought, to increase the mileage levels in some practice groups. We wanted to educate people that hard work is necessary, but more importantly that it could be fun. In talking to people and interviewing folks, it was obvious to me that we needed to try to inspire people to higher aspirations. to encourage swimmers and their parents to think bigger and believe in their abilities to succeed at higher levels of the program. I just felt like we were under selling our potential a little bit and could do a better job in that regard. I wanted to improve both the internal and external communications within our program. We were not doing as good of a job as we could have in getting centralized information out to the entire organization. I thought our coaches were doing a great job of communicating directly with their particular groups, but it was things that dealt with only their particular group. One of the ways that we needed to build team unity was to just let people know more about what was going on throughout the entire organization and not just the competitive team, but all our other programs. We wanted to improve our team demographics.
We did not have nearly enough JO & under boys in our program and a very high percentage of our program was I 3 & over. And looking down the road, I could see where, if we didn’t work hard at widening the base of our pyramid a little bit, that we could have some problems down the line. The other thing that I realized in trying to learn a little bit about our community is that Charlotte is a wonderful place to live and I Jove it there, but we have grown so fast that our highway structures have not grown with us. It is very difficult to get around. There is u lot of traffic at inopportune hours for practices and I felt like if we were going to grow our program and develop it, that we needed to expand our geographical range, basically start satellite programs in other areas of the community. So those were some of the things that we set out to do and things I felt like needed attention.
I have outlined for you on the page, what our immediate targets, our short term goals and our long term objectives were. I am not going to talk about each of those, but kind of outline ones that I think are significant. I think a Jot of this stuff is self-explanatory.
From the very beginning, I want to point out that I intended to devoted all my time and energy to the competitive team. I intentionally and with every thought in mind, set aside the noncompetitive team programs and decided that once I got comfortable that the team was in the right direction in doing the things that we wanted to do, then I would spend some time and effort in that direction. So we immediately set out to just worry about team situations. We made some practice schedule adjustments for some of the practice groups to give them a little more water time than we thought was necessary.
One of the most important things that we did was to initiate weekly staff meetings. One of the ways that I tried to improve communication internally was by having a weekly staff meeting at I 0:00 every Thursday morning.
We would spend some time talking about administrative issues and more importantly use that time to talk about things from a professional development point of view. As we go through this, you will see some of the things that we talked about at our staff meetings. The other thing that we did was to initiate a weekly newsletter. We put out a newsletter each week to our team membership on Wednesday afternoons. It is a product that I started and still spend most of the time on it myself, but as we go along I have delegated more and more of those responsibilities to different members of the staff. It is probably the most effective thing that we did to improve communications, improve attitudes and to build team unity throughout our entire organization. We not only used it for administrative kind of things, but to give meet results and to make people aware of what was going on in the organization. If you use a tool like that effectively, you can get an awful lot of information out there and teach people and educate people an awful lot about things that you want to do. It was probably one of the most important things that we did.
In our staff meetings, some of the kinds of things that we tried to do, were to try to outline standard practice habits. I wanted to make sure that when it came time for youngsters to use the bathroom in the middle of practice, that they were all handling that situation in the same way, that they were all starting and finishing repeats on the wall, that we were teaching streamlining the same way, asking kids to follow certain habits in practice the same way across the board-everybody breathe every third on freestyle, whatever the case may be. And we sat down and developed about a four page outline of what we called practice habits. We wanted to be consistent throughout the program. It was a good way to educate the staff and to standardize training terminology and procedures throughout the program.
Moving to the short term objectives. Some of the things that we did after the first four months, we standardized stoke drills. We sat down and spent one staff meeting for four consecutive weeks talking about each of the four strokes, going through all the stroke drills that each of us knew, assigning a particular name to each of those drills so that we were doing the same drills top to bottom in the organization. I am fortunate to have a large staff that comes from a lot of different places, people who have mentored under different individuals and learned swimming a different way here and there. I think that is a plus. We put together a fairly extensive list of stroke drills, assigned names to each particular drill and tried to standardize that throughout the program. We did the same thing with dry land exercises. Again, I did not want to be doing a particular midsection exercise and call it one name in one level of program and another name in another level. We tried to standardize dry land exercise. We spent some time talking about championship priorities, deciding which meets we were going to shave which kids for and how much we were going to rest along the way and making sure we were all in the same wave length in that direction. We established criteria for team placement and team moves. When it came time to promote kids within the organization, I wanted to make sure that we were doing the same thing at the age group level that we were doing at the senior level. We talked about guidelines for race strategy. I wanted to make sure that we were teaching kids to swim races the same way throughout our program-same philosophy on how to split 200’s and 400’s and 1500′ s, what have you. We wanted to increase the water time and evaluate the summer schedule. I wanted to increase time for our 11 & 12 year olds and our 13 & 14 year olds, do some more doubles for some of those youngsters than we had done in the past. And probably, one of the things that was most important to me, to educate not just the swimmers about but also the staff, to try to promote a longer term training philosophy in terms of how we plan seasons and years. I have always believed that I would rather invest a little bit of time right now and to bank on that in the future. I think it makes sense sometimes to sacrifice performance on the short term in order to get better performance on the long term. That is a difficult process to sell to age group swimmers, in particular. But just simple things like it doesn’t make sense, I think, to shave a kid early in the season to make a cut for a championship meet, when if they make those some cuts at the end of the season, they are pre-qualified for the next year. I think you are better off training kids all the way through that season to make those cuts at the end of the season and be better positioned to perform at a higher level the following season or the following year and just trying to explain thing and better educate people in that respect.
As far as things that we really want to get to and look at this next year, we want to fully integrate the Davidson program into our organization. I want to begin to spend more time on non-team programs and give some attention to those areas that I have not done previously. As you look through the long term goals, there, you can see some other goals and objectives that we have for this coming year.
As I look back on the year and try to evaluate what we did well and what we could have done better, there are certainly some things in hind sight that we would do differently if we could. Probably the thing that I would talk about the most in that regard was that I spent a lot of time and energy thinking about the job change, thinking about what I wanted to do professionally, and I did not do the same kind of thing personally. I vastly und r estimated the impact that making the transition would have both on myself and my wife. We assumed it would be easy to sell our home and all those kind of things would go comfortably and easily and in some cases they did not. And if I had things to do over again, I would try to spend as much time planning and organizing for the personal side of my move as I did for the professional side. If I had to do it over again, I would spend a little bit more time on deck with the various levels of our program. We did some of that, we did not do enough of that. If there is one thing that I regret the most, that is probably the thing I would like to do over again the most.
Just for advice for someone going into a new situation, one of the biggest mistakes that I think I made the first year was not spending enough quality time with my athletes during their first taper. Like I said, we arrived there the first part of October. We went basically lo our first competition in December and swam very well. We went again in January to another meet and swam very well again. We went to another meet in February and swam, really, incredible well at that particular meet. I felt very comfortable about the direction that we were going and the way that, that part of the transitions was going. The kids were comfortable, they were happy, they were swimming fast. And in many cases I had high school aged kids swimming life time best times, unrested, unshaved. These were kids that had already gotten to the point in their careers where they were only improving once a year when they were rested and shaved and they were already swimming faster than they had ever swam before. I probably got a little over confident about what they were going to do. Along about the first part of February, I had been there long enough that I was beginning to get more comfortable to spend time on other areas of the program and kind of divert my attention in other directions. I think going into that first taper, I took for granted, a little bit, that because we had been swimming well, we were going to continue to swim well. In some cases, we did not at the end of the first season. And I think that some of that was simply me not spending enough personal time at the end of the season with those kids, like I did early on in the season.
In my efforts to spend a lot of time concentrating on the team itself, I intentionally did not spend a lot of time on non-team programs and I think that was a good move. I think I needed to do that. The mistake that I probably made in that particular regard, though, was not spending enough time with the personnel running those particular programs. I have not done as good a job, getting to know those members of my staff as I have my coaching staff. The people that run the other programs that we offer, probably feel that I don’t care about them very much, which isn’t true, but I have certainly sent that message to them. If I had to do it over again, I would spend a little more time, not helping them run their programs, but just spending more time with them personally.
I think one final thing, in an effort to be organized and really concentrate on what really needed to be done the first year, we probably did not begin lo plan for this upcoming year soon enough. We are a little behind where we would like to be as far as our planning for the start of the 1994-95 season.
So in hindsight, those are some things that we would do differently if we could, and had the chance to do over again.
I want to move to the last part of the talk and spend some time talking about some practical advice on select transition issues-things that do not really fit into the body of the talk as it is outlined, but things that I think would be of value and interest to people.
The first thing that I would talk about there, simply is demonstrating respect for the past. I really believe that any time you go into a new situation, one of the most effective things that you can do is to let people know that you respect them in the way that they have been doing things. To go in and make total change, I think is a mistake. The more respect that you can demonstrate for what has proceeded you, the more effective you are going to be as a new leader in a new situation.
The second thing that I would talk about would be inheriting staff. It is a common rule of thumb in athletics, that whenever you go into a new situation, that you don’t carry over assistant coaches from one reign to another. It is not a typical in a professional football situation or college football situation for a new head coach to totally clean the slate and bring in an entire new staff of people that he is comfortable with or that he hired. I think the main reason that people feel that way is a question of loyalty and where the loyalties are going to lay by the staff that you have inherited. I think that there is a tremendous advantage for hanging on to the people that have been there before. I truly believe that from the very best assistant coaches that I have the pleasure of working with and have ever helped me as a head coach, were people that I had inherited from a previous reign. I think in my particular situation, corning in about a month after the start of the season, there was actually no other way that I could have done it, nor would I have chosen to do it another way. I think that people that have been there before, are tremendous value to you in terms of getting to understand a situation, a tremendous value to you in getting to know the kids, and which buttons to push to make the kids respond effectively. I think it is a very positive thing to inherit assistants and carry them over. Then you have questions about how you get them on your side and in your court. I think the answers to those are fairly simple. I think in order to get respect, you need to give respect. I think in order to get loyalty you have got to give loyalty. One of the very first things that I did in my initial meetings with my staff, was to outline for them what I expected of them, what they could expect of me. I went out of my way to demonstrate to them that I would be loyal. I said with the exception of making a poor judgement in terms of ethical or moral situations, that I would support them I IO percent in any other situation in which they might make a mistake. I let them know up front that they had a long enough leash to make mistakes and try to do things and that I would still support them. Likewise, I tried real hard though our staff meetings to include them in the decision making process of our organization, to give them ownership in what we were doing. I think that is one of the ways that I gave them respect and earned their respect instead. I think those are issues that you have to deal with. I saw the people that I inherited as assets, not liabilities and I always have and I always will in any situation that I encounter.
In a talk at ASCA about wearing old team apparel in a new situation. I think that is a no-no. I think that one of the things that you want to do immediately is to throw away all the T-shirts, and parts of your apparel that mention or have your old team on them. I don’t think that people want to see you wear that in the new situation. I think that is pretty important. It sends a subtle message. If you are in the unfortunate situation that that is the only clothes that you own, I don’t know what advice to give you in that case, but I would recommend that you not wear the old team apparel.
I want to talk a little bit for a minute about the personal challenges, personal changes that you may face in a transition. I know in making the decision to go from Charlotte from Orlando, Diane and I faced a lot of choices about why to stay and why to leave. Once we may the decision to go to Charlotte we were ready to go and we expected the very best to happen. In fact, it has been a very difficult year personally because just about everything that could go wrong on the personal side of a change did this past year. We put our house on the market less than a week after I accepted the job. It didn’t sell for nine months. We bleed profusely the last three to four months before the house sold. We made a lot of unfortunate decisions up front in picking a real estate agent and pricing the house incorrectly. Again, some of that happened because I was so tuned in to making the job change that I didn’t spend the time and energy that I needed to on the personal side of things. Shortly after I got to Charlotte, Diane had some medical problems. Then we were faced with issues like she was on the verge of accepting a new position in Charlotte and we did not know the seriousness of this particular medical concern. And then we were faced with issue of whether she needed to stay in her old job, and do we need to stay separated a while longer because we had to be concerned about where the medical insurance was going to come from, things of that nature. We ended up being separated for almost four or five months before she was able to join me in Charlotte. We either had to sell our house in Orlando or she had to get a similar paying job in Charlotte in order to get back together again. The first job that she took in Charlotte proved not to be what we wanted. They were a little deceptive to her about how much travel would be involved and she was having to travel out of town a Jot more that she had ever dreamed was going to be feasible. o she was not particularly happy in her first job. Fortunately, we have been able to rectify that. She is now in a new position that she has just started within the last six weeks and I think she is going to be very, very happy in that job. Changing jobs a second time that quickly presents other problems. Because of the job changes, neither one of us took a vacation since the tail end of last summer because there just wasn’t time to do it all and get it all done. And because Diane is fresh into a new job, she literally has no vacation time in this point in time, so we are not going to get a vacation again at the end of this summer. That is difficult to deal with. Those are issues that I would never have thought about or dream would have been problems in making the original choice. On a personal note, one of our challenges in making the decision to make a job change was that we have been and continue to try to adopt a child. We were positioned with an attorney in the Orlando area to do a private adoption and felt like within the next eighteen to twenty-four months that was probably going to be a reality.
In making the change to go to Charlotte, one of the issues that we had to deal with was what impact changing localities and changing states would have on that particular process. Probably the best news of all about the entire change is by making the change to Charlotte we have enhanced the adoption possibilities and we are very hopeful that something is going to happen on that front very quickly for us. There are a lot of issues that you have got to deal with, from a personal point of view in making a transition, and in our particular situation, children were not involved. We did not have to worry about moving kids and that is just a whole other set of issues and challenges that you face, depending on how old those youngsters are. My advice to you is, don’t underestimate that part of the process.
The last thing that I would like to do is to talk a little bit about some relocation and compensation issues, which is, the very last page of your handout. Both initially, before making the decision to change jobs and as I have encountered some problems selling houses and buying a new one in Charlotte, I know a lot more now about the kind of things you should do in making a change than I did up front. I thought I had a pretty good handle on that when I made the decision last August to change jobs. But what I have done here is outlined, for you, some things that I think are important to look for, and look at and consider in terms of compensation considerations and relocation expenses in making a job change. Obviously, when you move, you would expect your new employer in a situation like I was moving to, to pay our household moving expenses. That is a given. One of the things that I did not realize was typical in the corporate world, but is, is that when you make a job change, it is very typical for corporations to give you as a hiring bonus or as a miscellaneous expense, whatever you want to call it, one month’s salary bonus to help cover some of the unexpected expense you have in making a change like that. That was something that I really didn’t understand was typical and usual. It is also not unusual for there to be built into a relocation package, expenses to make trips before the move, to look for housing and that kind of thing. It is not unusual, also, in a situation where one spouse stays behind while the other leaves and there is a temporary housing need, for the company that is moving you, to pick up that expense or at least part of it. It is also not atypical for a corporation moving an executive or a manager to look at paying the cost of the real estate commission, the closing cost of the sale of a home, and/or picking up the closing cost in the purchase of a new home. Those are some things that are very typical in the corporate world when you are dealing with moving executives and managers. On the compensation side of the ledger, obviously we all expect to receive a salary. One of the things I would encourage you to look at in addition to that, is some type of incentive income. In addition you should take a look at benefits that you would be eligible for. Major medical and dental insurance, obviously is something that you should ask for yourself and I would encourage you, at least initially, to ask that for your spouse. In a situation where both the husband and wife are employed and one spouse is basically what you call the trailing spouse, there might be a situation where one spouse might go without medical coverage for a while they found a new position, if your employer did not provide that for you and the spouse. That is one of those issues that I would encourage you not to forget about or skip by. I would encourage you to look at the possibility of disability insurance. It is very typical in most major medical policies for some kind of term life insurance to be tied into it for almost no cost at all and you should look for that. I would encourage you to look at retirement contributions of some type and obviously settle up front what your annual and personal leave and your vacation time would allow. From the stand point of reimbursement expenses, obviously you should expect to receive full swim meet expenses to include food, lodging, and travel. I have always in my last three positions, asked that in the event that we were in a situation where we did not have a youngster go to the senior nationals a particular year, for whatever reason, that the club fund my travel to the senior national championships at least once a year. If you aspire to be at that level and you want to be successful at that level, I think you need to be tuned into what is going on there. That should be something that your employer pays for. They should pay for your annual dues to professional organizations such as USS or ASCA, likewise, expenses for at least one clinic per year like this one or another. In cases where you are so inclined to be involved, and I encourage you to do so, full expenses to the USS annual convention should be provided. You should expect to be reimbursed for your certification fees for Red Cross classes and things of that nature. One of the things I would encourage you to ask for is what I call a professional development fund. Part of my package with MAC is that I have a certain amount of money that I can spend each year on books, videos, software, anything that is related to professional development. That is not just for my purposes, but is used by the entire staff. I think that is a nice asset to have, a nice benefit to have as part of your package. Finally, again, depending on the kind of position that you are in, one of the things that I would encourage you to seek and look for, is to ask that you have your full expenses paid for you and your spouse to at least one major international competition every Olympic quadrennial. Again, if that is a level that you inspire to bring athletes to, I think it is important that you be in tuned to what is going on there. This is the same philosophy I talked about earlier with the senior national, just carried one step further. Those are some things to think about and be aware of, kind of a laundry list of ideas. I would be very honest with you, I don’t have all these things in my compensation package at MAC. I have some of them. There were some things I chose not to ask for. They were generous and basically gave me everything I did ask for in the compensation package. I learned a lot this year about those kinds of things and thought I would share some of that information with you.
All and all it has been a wonderful year. I am very proud of what we have accomplished our first year at MAC. I think it has been a very successful year. It is an organization that had a tremendous amount of potential. I am very excited about the future and where we might go with it.
At this point, I would entertain any questions people might have of me about anything that I said or didn’t say.
Q: When you first moved, what kind of expectations did you put on yourself as far as the time that you would be spending with your new position and how long did it take you to settle down before you had a regular schedule day and had some free time available?
A: What is that? The question is what kind of expectation did I have on the front end about how much time I would spend in the new position and how long it might be before things settled down to a regular day? Very honestly, that is one of the areas that I did not do a very good job thinking about. I have worked very, very hard this year. I have spent a lot more time at my job than I would have envisioned and probably, I am not the best person to ask that question of because I did not do a good job of planning in that regard. I would say that life is still not back to normal as far as both the impact on our personal side and the profession side of making the transition. We moved into our new house in June and we still have not had the time to completely unpack and get settled. Here we are almost a year after making the decision to leave and it is not back to normal yet, whatever normal may be. I don’t know if that answers your question or not, but certainly that is a part of the transition that I did not do as good of a job as I could have. Other questions?
Q: When you took the job, did the board give you all of this freedom right away or did you have to constantly work on getting it the way you wanted it, or did you establish that right away when you took the job?
A: My responsibilities as head coach was to run the competitive side of our organization and I have total authority and leeway in that regard through my assistants. I never had to fight to make any changes but I think part of that was the way that I chose to go about making those changes. Quite honestly, we made a lot of changes that people never recognized, at least not right off the bat. That is part of what I am talking about in terms of the subtle change artist. There were some things that we have done that I don’t think would have been a problem if we had been up front about it. But there were some things that we kind of did very quietly that people didn’t notice right at first. There was never any question about my authority or who was going to make those kinds of decisions. That has never been a problem. The board of directors and the parents have been incredibly supportive and that has been a positive part of the transition. I have never had that problem. They gave me a lot of leeway coming in, and perhaps gave me more creditability up front than I deserved. 1 think that any time that you go into a new situation, you need to earn that respect again.
Q: From the time that you went there, Number I: How have your numbers changed and Number 2: How has your budget changed?
A: The question is since I first arrived, how have the team members changed or differed at all since we first got there and also how had the budget numbers change? I am going to answer that question in two parts because it is very definitely effected by the addition of our new satellite program at Davidson College. Basically our team numbers have held steady. We started with about 283 swimmers, when I first arrived. We are starting this year with about 260, so we are a little lower, but we graduated I 8 high school seniors this last year and we simply have not replaced those youngsters in our program in the I 3 & older level. Our 12 & under numbers are about the same. We have a better distribution of younger boys that we had this time last year. We are a little lighter on the thirteen and older end of our program than we were last year, but I personally think that that is healthy because I think the demographics of our program are healthier than they were this time last year. Essentially the numbers are fairly even. We hope to add up to 75 new swimmers in our new location at Davidson. We start that program in the water next week for the first time, so that is kind of in the state of flux right now. We don’t know for sure how many we are going to have, But, obviously, once that gets in place and we build that program that is going to significantly increase our total numbers. Likewise on the budget issue, we basically, in establishing in our 1994 budget, taking the Davidson program out of the equation, I would say that maybe we had about a 5 percent increase on both revenues and expenses for 1994-95. When you factor into the equation, the Davidson program that changes the numbers considerably over what it was previously. There was a lot of preform work that I have done in putting that program together and planning and anticipating our expenses and our revenues in that particular area. Last year our overall gross revenues were approximately $680,000 and our gross revenues in our 1994-95 budgets are going to be close to $800,000 as we project them right now.
Q: The question is what percentage of our budget comes from fund raising and what obligations I personally have for fund raising?
A: Going back about three years ago, our organization made a decision to significantly increase fees or dues. It
was about a 25 percent jump all at once when we first moved into our new facility. At that time, the same point and time, the decision was made to cut back on the amount of fund raising that we did. We basically now, in our present structure, only have one major fund raiser a year. We park cars and sell programs at the PaineWebber senior golf tournament every May in Charlotte. For that responsibility we earn about $15,000 from the tournament organizers. We do require that everybody in the program work at least one session of the golf tournament as we have it organized into sessions for workers. That is the only mandatory fund raiser that we do in our program. We also, as it historically happen with our program since the early ’80’s, we have been involved in parking cars and cleaning bathrooms at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. That use to be a mandatory fund-raiser. What we now do with that-that is an opportunity for people to earn dues credits. We earn a certain amount of money for working the bathrooms at the races and people volunteer to do that. It is strictly a volunteer program and by volunteering to do that, they earn credits against their dues that they do not have to pay their dues. So people who struggle to pay their dues or just want to do that, which is an option for them to work down their dues, so to speak. Last year we had kind of a one-time need to pave part of our parking lot into our facility that was not paved, and we did run a special fund raiser targeted at that particular program. We sold grocery store coupon for the leading grocery store chain in Charlotte on a one time bases for about three or four months to raise about $5,000 to do that. That was kind of an exception that we did not expect anyone to participate in, but that is an easy one because people buy groceries anyway. It is just a matter of buying the coupons from us as opposed to spending the money at the store. As far as my responsibilities as to fund raising, I virtually have none. The parents group had done a great job of organizing that, in fact, the very second weekend I was there last October was one of the weekends that we worked the raceway. It virtually went on without me even knowing it was going on. That is how new I was in terms of getting acclimated. The Paine-Webber Golf Tournament took place the same weekend this May, as a B/C meet that we hosted at our facility. We hosted the meet and manned the golf tournament the very same weekend. I virtually had no responsibilities whatsoever for that. As far as going out in the community and raising funds, we do generate approximately $65,000 off of corporate sponsorships. One of the things that we did in the transition this year-that was one of the areas that Jeff Gaeckle was absolutely remarkable in. He did a tremendous job in that area. We contracted Jeff this last year to do that for us this past year. We have not decided yet if we are going to continue to do that. I did make some calls with Jeff last year to meet some people and get to know them for the first time. One of the things that I have on my agenda this year is to get a lot more involved in that just because I feel like I need to do that.
Q: The first question was, did I bring anybody at all from my previous job to my new situation.
A: The answer is “no”. The staff that I have in place currently at MAC are basically people that I inherited and were already there. We added a couple of part time people last year at the beginning of the year that were new people from the Charlotte area. Then, of course, we add Kathy McKee this fall to our staff, who is the only new full time member.
Q: The second question is how many full time people on our staff get medical benefits?
A: The answer is all of them.
Q: The question is: Looking at the team demographics. do I feel like the demographics of our team are indicative of the Charlotte culture and if not, is that a concern?
A: The part of Charlotte that we are located in is basically upper middle class, very well-to-do. Within a 15 to 20 minute driving radius of our facility there are literally thousands of kids that we could attract to our program. Most of them are upper middle class families that could afford to swim. One of the things that we are going to try to work on this year, because there are some good facilities located in areas of town that would be considered minority areas, we are going to work with the Charlotte Mecklenburg County Rec. Department this summer to start a summer league program for minority youth that would operate out of some of the county facilities that are in the minority areas of Charlotte. That is a program that I definitely want to get behind and promote and see if we can’t get some of those youngster involved in swimming because I think that is good for our sport. Generally the demographics of our team as it consists at our present location reflects the area that we live in almost to 100 percent. We do have a scholarship program for people who cannot swim in our program to handle situations where families may have temporary problems and even afford kids an opportunity to kids who cannot afford to swim to swim in the program. We do have a scholarship program set up prior to my coming that affords those opportunities. I don’t know if that answers your question or not, but that is some of the things that we do or are thinking about doing in those regards.
Q: The question is how did we plan to promote team unity between the new location and the existing location.
A: That is a good question. That is a question that I have probably answered a thousand times since we first proposed the satellite program. Very honestly, the main way we are going to try to do it basically through communication. Through our weekly newsletter we will be able to make people aware at both locations what is going on at the other. That will be the main way that we accomplish that. We are also going to take advantage of Saturdays during the school year to run combined practices of similar team levels at both locations. We will move one to the north side and one to the south side and try to do that probably once a month. And in the summer time we very much anticipate that both groups will train long course together at an outdoor county facility that we use to supplement our long course training in the summer time. It would be about equal distance between the two locations. Hopefully, through those avenues we will be able to make it a unified group and make them work together. That is something that is very definitely important to me. I am not interested in having a satellite program that is not going to be a real part of our team, and feel a part of our team. That is an important objective for us.
Q: The question is: What is our due structure?
A: I think it is relatively high. At our youngest levels, our 7/8 year olds that train three times a week, pay about
$600 a year, which is our lowest fees, up to the highest level where the dues are about $1200 a year for the group that I coach. I think that we are at the high end of where we can afford to be at this point in time. We have not raised our dues in two years. If we do not find some new revenue sources this coming year to supplement that, we are probably going to be in a position to have to seriously look at raising dues next year which I would like to avoid doing if we could.
PROGRAM ASSESSMENT & NEEDS ANALYSIS
A. Getting acquainted with a new team – details to get familiar with as soon as possible.
- Coaching staff
- Program structure & training levels
- Practice/facility schedules
- Program content at each level
- Consistency of coaching throughout program
- Overall team performance level
- Organizational structure
- Existing lines of communication
- Team demographics
- Team operating policies and procedures
- Unresolved political issues
- community forces impacting team and future
- Getting other people’s perspective about the program – assessing values, feelings, attitudes, and
- swimmers at all levels
- Coaching staff
- Departed coaches including predecessor
- Administrative staff
- Board members
- Alumni parents
- College swimmers
- Other coaches in area
- Community publications
PUTTING THE PLAN INTO ACTION
- Basic Assessment: What Needed to Be Done
- Promote greater team unity; reduce high profile of practice levels within
- Promote greater consistency throughout training program.
- Foster stronger work ethic; increase mileage levels in some practice
- Inspire higher aspirations; encourage swimmers and parents to think bigger and believe in their ability to succeed at higher
- Improve lines of
- Improve team
- Expand geographical range of all swimming
- Immediate Targets: Less than 4
- Concentrate time and efforts on competitive
- Make practice schedule
- Initiate weekly staff
- Initiate weekly team
- Conduct individual goal meetings with my
- outline standard practice
- Organize and assign coaches’ administrative responsibilities.
- Reinforce team uniform policy.
- Short-Term Objectives: 4 – 12
- standardize stroke
- standardize dryland exercises and
- Review championship meet
- Establish criteria for team placement & e.. outline guidelines for race strategy.
- Develop Swim School satellite
- Increase water time for 11-12 and 13-14 groups during summer
- Promote longer-term training
NEGOTIATING A RELOCATION & COMPENSATION PACKAGE
- Household moving
- Miscellaneous relocation Estimate: one month’s salary.
- Transportation allowance for pre-move
- Temporary lodging expenses for a specific length of
- Reimbursement of real estate commission and closing costs for sell of
- Closing costs for purchase of new
- Basic Compensation
- Major Medical and Dental insurance for self and
- Disability Income Protection
- Annual and Personal
- Reimbursable Expenses
- Full swim meet expenses to include food, lodging, and travel; and one trip per year to Senior
- Annual dues to professional organizations, ie. USS, ASCA, WSCA,
- Full expenses to one clinic per year, ie. ASCA or
- Full expenses to USAS annual
- Required certification fees. ie. Red
- Fund for professional development for books, videos, software, periodical subscriptions, etc.
- Full expenses to one major international competition each Olympic quadrennium to include spouse’s