[introduction by Gregg Troy]
A great opportunity for you folks today; I was standing outside talking to someone and they asked what I was doing here. I am looking forward to listening to these four gentlemen—and actually five, with Chuck moderating—talk, because the wealth of experience is just tremendous—it is unbelievable. Someone said, “So you’re the guy that’s in charge of introducing all the old geezers.” And I will tell you: these old geezers have more energy than most of the young people around.
Real quickly, Chuck Warner is going to be our lead man here. Chuck is an ASCA board member; he has also been a US National Team coach; he has been the head Pan Am coach. I kind of look at Chuck as being almost the historian of American swim coaching: he knows more about coaches and background of the sport than a whole lot of people do. And he is very articulate. Probably the most noteworthy thing he has done lately is he has been just a tremendous author. He has written two really good books, and they would be worthwhile for any coach to read.
But he has got four… I would call them semi-retired. They are all still very active, they are still involved in the sport; young men that have a tremendous wealth and knowledge.
• George Block. George has produced six Olympians. He is from San Antonio, Texas; he stayed at home. He is one of those guys that never moved any place else, just stayed—he is San Antonio Swimming. He is a pillar of the San Antonio community. He is probably one of the brightest minds in our sport. If you have ever had a chance to be in a room—in a board meeting or anything—with George, he humbles you with how intelligent he is. I think he is going to have some great thoughts about it.
• Jim Montrella. Jim coached for years. Jim had success at every level in this sport. He started out in Southern California. You can look through all the qualification… if I read the names of all the people these folks have coached, we would be here the entire time listening to me and I do not want to be here that long. But the thing that really stood out to me [about Jim]: in a team of 123 people, he had 31 qualified for Nationals one year—unbelievable. National Junior College Coach of the Year; he was at Indian River Community College. He has been the Big Ten Coach of the Year. He was a 1976 Women’s Olympic Team Coach. Success at all levels. Went back and he lives in Southern California now.
• Richard Jochums. Dick Jochums, some people know him by; Richard, whatever you want to call him—people call him lots of different things and he does not mind. One of the greatest coaches ever. He is a middle-distance icon of United States Swimming. The number of people he has coached, the Olympians he has had, the American Records. I did not know this myself until I looked at his biography—if you get a chance to read through all these, man, you should do it. But he was the last American coach for a club team to hold the World Record in 800 Freestyle Relay. That is a tremendous feat, when you can do it with club athletes. And one of my concerns, anytime there is a panel like this, is people will be a little afraid to speak up. We do not need to worry about Richard speaking up because he is not afraid of anyone or anything except two things: his wife, Mara, who is a wonderful lady because she has put up with him; and his own age group coach, who was his personal coach when she coached him, and that is Laurabelle Bookstaver. So… Richard Jochums.
• And then the last one: Richard Shoulberg. Richard Shoulberg is Philadelphia. Any of you who know him, you know he has been in the area for a long time. He has never moved… I will bet you Richard has not lived more than 20 miles from where he was born. Have you, Richard? [Shoulberg: All my life, two-and-a-half miles.] Two-and-a-half miles—another one. Tremendous swimmers, tremendous work ethic. He is a guy that has been a role model for me. He stayed at the same place, and he has been in Philadelphia for an eternity.
These gentlemen’s knowledge and their wealth in the sport is something that hopefully they can share with us. And I think more than anything else, I would like to call all of them personal friends. They are all just fantastic individuals. I give you a great panel. [applause]
[Warner]: Is this on? This works? I got on the stage first, because I wanted to be sure to take this chair so Coach Jochums did not grab it before I did. We are going to do this session in two parts. The first part for this next hour or so is going to be about setting-up your life to coach and then to retire as a swimming coach. This is the talk that I wish there was for the first 20 or 30 years that I coached Swimming, and it never happens. And I hope you guys walk out of here by the time we are done this morning and say: That was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in an ASCA Clinic. The second hour—after we take a short break from 11:00-11:30—is going to be more about: training, getting kids excited. Training, actually, not as much as getting kids excited, and turning that light on. And that is a timeless ability that these guys have had a phenomenal career at doing: how to deal with disappointments, that type of things.
So we are going to see if we can move quickly through a whole series of things to set up this second hour. And you’ll let us know how we do.
Setting up a coach’s life. Coach Block, how did you know you were going to be a swimming coach? How did you know that you thought maybe you could be good at this?
[Block]: It was by accident. I had my degree in Journalism; I had a job with TIME magazine as a stringer. And a friend asked me if I would help him get a team started. And I said: yeah, but only six months, because my job starts in six months. And he quit coaching a little while later, and then I did it for 40 years.
But I think it is the first time that the light comes on for a kid, and a kid gets it. Whether it is a stroke, or it is something about life, or it is committing to the sport, or whatever it is. But the first time a kid gets it, it is like getting that shot of heroin in your arm: you have got to come back for more. And, you know, that is how everybody in this room gets addicted to coaching, right? When they get it and that lights come on; it glows brighter in you than it does in the kid.
[Warner]: Coach Montrella, same thing for you. You were not a power-addict as a young coach; you did not just get addicted to the power of this, you wanted to do some good things. What got you excited about coaching?
[Montrella]: You have got a lot of questions; it is hard to answer. At first I want to say, like George, absolutely by accident. And I am going to get personal because it is almost hysterical: I got involved in Swimming because I had to be out in the sun. In order to get in the sun, I had to be a lifeguard. And the reason I had to get out in the sun and lifeguard is: I had acne so bad, I could not stand it anymore, and the doctor said: stay out in the sun. That was the opening door—pretty boring.
In the early stages, it was working with young people at the YMCA. I became a junior counselor at High Sierra packing trips, Camp Fox, Catalina Island. And then they said would you like to be one of our aquatics directors at the YMCA. They had just built a 20-yard pool that was 30-feet wide. I said, “Sure.” And, from that point forward, it was another… about 55 years now.
[Warner]: Coach Jochums, what got you excited or how did you know you wanted to be a swimming coach?
[Jochums]: Well, when I was a kid, I could not communicate with anybody but my mother. My dad did not understand what I was saying. Nobody understood except my mother; my mother could interpret for me. When I got to school, that problem continued until my mother went in one day because I could not even write my name. And she went into the teacher… this is a high school graduate, no college at all. And she went in and she said to Mrs. Sims—who was my first grade teacher—she said, “Mrs. Sims, you notice anything funny about the way my son writes his name?” And Mrs. Sims, “Yes, we can’t read it.” And my mother then held a mirror up to it, and guess what? Dickey… Dickey—that is the way we started anyhow—Dickey was in the mirror. It was not on the piece of paper; it was on the mirror. That is called… in my day, it was called mirror vision; you folks are all modern and you call it dyslexia now—major problem for a lot of kids.
And, going along with dyslexia, the only place that I could shine was on the playground, because I sure was not shining in the school room. I remember the group I was part of. I remember all those five kids; we were in the slow group. I had a person called Einstein in my class, growing up in Berkeley. And I was in the dumbest of the dumb group.
My mother bought me a book, to get me to read, about coaching: 26 Greatest Football Coaches. And read about this guy named Bible that got pissed at his players, and they all went home—they did not go back to locker room, they followed the kids out of the stand. I thought: that’s neat. I said: coaching is what I was going to do. And from that point on, I was going to coach; I just did not know what sport.
Very simply: I played basketball and I could dunk when I was 14. That came easy. Football was fun because I got to get hit, and hit. And hitting was more fun than getting hit, but neither bothered me. And my mother watched me play in the Berkeley and Oakland playgrounds, and noticed that my mouth was getting me in some problems. And I was getting myself out of my problems or into bigger problems by fighting people. And so she took me down, and she was going to make an ice skater out of me, and I could not ice skate.
So then she decided she would try Swimming. So she put me in the Berkeley YMCA, and they did not let women in the building. I never found that swim pool; I found the basketball court. She figured that out, and the next thing I knew, I am taking lessons from a woman, named Laurabelle Bookstaver. By the third grade, my brother had come to elementary school and he became my interpreter. And by the fourth grade, I could actually start to speak the English language, because I had speech therapy—I went through all that.
But that book on coaching, that started… I was going to coach. My sport ended up being Swimming. My mother bet me $12 I would not stick to it, and for $12, I became a swim coach. And that is how it all happened. And yes, I meant to be a coach; Swimming eventually became the sport.
[Warner]: Coach Shoulberg, why did you think you could be good at this?
[Shoulberg]: When I was 16 years-old, Mr. and Mrs. Peoples came to me. They said, “Stevie, our son, has had six instructors and he can’t swim.” And I said, “I’ll give him ten lessons, and at the end of the tenth lesson, he’ll swim 25 meters,” because that was the size of the pool. And I got him to do it. And I knew I wanted to be a teacher, a coach. And then I went to the 4-lane, 20-yard pool at our local Y; spent nine years there. And then two more years at the bigger Y, and then went to Germantown Academy. And last year I still taught pre-K, K [kindergarten], first grade, lifesaving; and I still coach, and I love coaching. I love being… I never had an addiction to alcohol or drugs; my wife said sex, but I don’t think so. I am addicted to kids, and I want to be around kids. And I want to see Olympic moments in the pool at Germantown Academy, or any pool. It is an addiction.
[Warner]: George, when you guys started as young coaches, we talk about having a philosophy or a purpose or a mission. Sometimes that changes over time. George Block: gold medals, was that in your eyes at the beginning?
[Block]: Yeah at the beginning, it was all about that stuff. Sort of once I decided I wanted to be a coach, I wanted to be a good coach and good coaches were measured in gold medals. I mean, George Haines was for my generation the gold standard. And so I wanted to coach an individual gold medalist. So that was what it was about, early.
[Warner]: And Jim, you had Larry LaBonte who was a mentor or… someone you admired. Was yours more about getting kids into the top rankings in the country in Age Group Swimming?
[Montrella]: No. I think it is the power of getting immediate feedback that actually had an impact. Because every day you are on the deck, with every single child, you have immediate feedback. And if you are an administration organization, it takes months or years to have an impact; and we have an impact every moment. I think I got high on that—that was mentioned somewhat earlier, like a drug.
The thing that I enjoyed the most, I learned from Jerry LaBonte, at the YMCA also in Long Beach, California—who, by the way, if you look back in the record books, he actually held the World Record in the 200 breaststroke for about six hours until he got beat in the finals. But Jerry was a great mentor. And the thing that I learned from him was: you reach out to every child, every day, in every way possible, until you find that magic moment. But in terms of medals, no; I think that the highest high that you can get in coaching is when you see that smile on the child’s face—that’s huge.
[Warner]: Coach Shoulberg, you ran into a man named Coach Lewis who told you about Olympians and where they come from. How did that impact you, and what did he tell you?
[Shoulberg]: Yeah. Mr. [Pete] Lewis was our track coach at Norristown High. It is a blue-collar area. I had an injury in tenth grade called a hernia, so you were not allowed to play sports for a year. So I became a manager. And Mr. Lewis… in May these three older guys came to train—okay. One was Josh Culbreath, one was Bark Sell—held the World Record for indoor high jump—and Al Cantello—and Al Cantello held the World Record for javelin back in the ’50s. And Mr. Lewis said to me, “Every town in the United States, there is an Olympian. Unfortunately, there is not an Olympic coach. And wherever you live, you can develop an Olympian.”
My goal was never to develop an Olympian; that was not why I got into it. I love helping kids. And once they start to make progress, it all works together. But Mr. Lewis was my mentor. And I loved watching these older guys come back and train with him. And I am fortunate to be at the right place at the right time. But every town in the United States does have an Olympian; I believe that. Unfortunately, they do not have an Olympic-level coach.
[Warner]: Coach Jochums, despite the dyslexia, you have your PhD. And in grad school, you learned about the Greek philosophy and you espoused back in the 1970s a philosophy that has been the most articulate that I have ever heard in Swimming about arete and agon. Can you—and you get a little more time on this one, sir. Can you explain to everybody what your philosophy of coaching was and how it related to the Greek philosophy?
[Jochums]: I can explain it but we do not have the time. I… I got forced to teach a class…. And I never stopped growing, folks. Every day is a new day: I am a year older and my swimmers are a day older, and everything changes. You have got to adjust to a new day, each and every day.
But very simply, I got the chance and the opportunity to learn about the Greek concept of sports, and the warrior concept. I took it a step further: I started looking at all societies—black, white, green, yellow, red, you name it. And there is one common bond that all elements of society, all mankind, has and it is the warrior concept. Because in every society, they started with a warrior concept. A lot of you think it is the aristocracy; and the rich went and fought the wars and the peasant tilled the soil and fed everybody. Well, that aristocracy had rules that you had to abide by.
And pretty soon you start to understand that the process of living is more important than the outcome. Because an outcome: you win a race, you lose a race, what is the difference? One second is the difference. And it has changed: do you get better? Do you grow? Do you learn? That is what the warrior concept. And you are awarded arete, which is victory. But all it is, is an outcome. And the day before you die, or the day you are on your deathbed, that is when you really get measured by who you are totally. Every day; it is not just one win that makes you. I know somebody with nine Olympic medals; he could not sell milk to the American public. Give me a break; that is not winning. Winning is being the best you possibly can be. And the Greeks understood that; it is time for America to totally understand it.
If you are the best you can be—and the gentlemen at this table with me all taught the same thing I taught—be the best you can be. There are no losers, or need be no losers, in this sport. This is what makes this the most special thing in the world; coaching can be, truly, the greatest profession in the world if you could do it right. You get people to be the best they can be, and then know who they are and tell themselves the truth. You know, the world is full of: if onlys, could haves, and would haves.
Don Meredith on national TV one time, after Howard Cosell had gone through all his could-haves and would-haves and maybes, and, you know. All of a sudden Don Meredith said to him, “You know, Howard, if all those would-haves and could-haves were candy and treats, we’d all have a Merry Christmas.” Absolutely true.
Live your life; that is what coaching is. You live your life; and find out that you are not the key to this swimmer, the swimmer is. None of us. And all of us have had some pretty good performance out of kid; we did not take one stroke. Giving those signals, did not hurt at all—did not bother me at all. I have a high toleration for pain, as I told Tim Shaw one day: his, not mine. [laughter]
But you know what? He bought-in to himself; all my champion bought-in to myself. And you do not know half… you do not know 90% of my champions because I have got kids that nobody has ever heard of. I had a kid that qualified for NCAAs, and on the way to qualifying—when I was at the University of Arizona—he had his best 50, best 100, best 150, best 200. He just kept swimming; we never thought he was going to stop. He hit the wall: 15:26. And that is still not a bad time. 15:26 for a kid that had never broke 16:00. Hit the wall, up and out; I found him at the phone, calling his mother, screaming: “I made it. I made it.” Does that make your day?
[Warner]: And this was a philosophy that you preached to your kids. This was not something that you had… that helped you get started in coaching, it was a way that you coached. True?
[Jochums]: I sold it. And then I… your job as a swim coach, or a coach, is to sell. I have recommended to the American Swimming Coaches Association to bring Lisardis in here, that ran the clinic that I went to where the guy asked: what is sales? And I said, “Having a product that somebody needs and then convincing them of it, showing them.” And the guy says, “What’s necessity of a product have to do with it?” Well, in coaching, the product has to have a necessity, and you can sell that. And Lisardis is wrong. But their salespeople, know how to talk to people. And there are four ways you have to talk to people; at least four ways. You cannot treat everybody the same. So yeah, you sell your product and then the kid buys it.
Let me add one thing here and then I will shut up for a minute. But very simply, my joy in coaching, and what I finally figured out, is when I see the light go on. I see the light, the kid blink, and he understands that it is his trip. He just accomplished something, or she just accomplished something. It is the start of being that special person that is you, and we are all special—we are all special.
[Warner]: And we are going to come back to that in a bit.
Quickly: starting salaries. You guys get into this for the money? George, what was the quick-start on your income from coaching?
[Block]: Food stamps. [laughter] The first job I got hired on, a) the pay was grotesque; I think it was $400 a month. But then we did not get our first check for two months. And we had these steakhouses, Bonanza Steakhouses, you could go to. And you could get a tea and a piece of Texas toast for like 50 cents. And so the assistant coaches would all go, and we would get tea and our Texas toast. And if we finished our tea, we would get more hot water and put ketchup in it to make tomato soup, and dunk the toast in it. But, you know, you could get a meal every day for a buck that way. And, so, yeah, my first starting salary for food stamps; two months later I got my first $400 check.
[Warner]: Coach Montrella?
[Montrella]: Hourly wage from the YMCA I am sure was less than a buck-and-a-half an hour. Parents started feeling guilty after 2 or 3 years, and gave me a gift of about $600. And, then the Lakewood Aquatic Club, it moved up to a $12,000 a year, and that was 1975. I was supposed to be getting married and get two kids in the deal right away, and I realized I am not going to be able to stay at Lakewood Aquatic Club.
[Warner]: Coach Jochums, big bucks to start out?
[Jochums]: I became a pool manager in the summers for summer league; that was so I could coach and run a club. $400 a month for that. And then I tried to get into college coaching, and they paid me… I worked two years at the University of Washington, one year at Cal-Berkeley, and I got a total of zero dollars—and I was happy to do it. And that’s… if you enjoy it… you are going to be underpaid no matter where you go. And you do what you have to do to get to where you have to go. And so I took zero money.
When I finally got my first job at—Cal State East Bay, it is called today—Cal State Hayward, they paid me ten-eight—what is this 12,000 crap? 10,800; you know how little that is?
[Montrella]: I was worth it. [laughter]
[Jochums]: In his own mind. [laughter]
And then it went from there. I wanted to coach. Then I went to work for… I left Cal State Hayward and we started Concord Swim Club—called the Terrapins today. And I went to see Mr. Gambril at Long Beach, and he was moving to Harvard; and I took the job at Long Beach. And the deal with Don was that if I bought his house, he was going to pay me $1,000 a month; and if I didn’t buy his house, he was going to pay me $200 a month. I bought his house. [laughter]
I went on a lease option to buy. And I bought it for $62,000; sold it for over $100,000, five years later. I never forget to remind him of that, because I made-out on Don Gambril. But he taught me how to make money coaching: I got to do something I love and how to make money. Thank God for Don Gambril.
[Warner]: Coach Shoulberg, where did you start with?
[Shoulberg]: I am not really bright, so I found a great woman in my life. And Molly handles the money. So I did not really care what I was making. We always paid our bills. And I just wanted to be with kids. I had a completely different type of job—a highly-skilled machinist, model maker—that paid quite well, but I did not want to do it. And I said to my wife, “You handle the books, and I’ll do the work.” And I do not mind a 75-hour week; it has never been work for me. I do not worry about money, and my wife is really, really good with money. So I am lucky.
[Warner]: So you guys got excited about coaching; you are making a little bit of money doing it. Where did you start learning to become a better coach, or start filling up what Doc Counsilman called that black box with information? George, you were in San Antonio with a lot of other guys, doing some academic things? Master’s degrees? PhDs? Was that part of the learning process for you, George?
[Block]: Not early. Early on, I was an assisting coach for Pete Williams—he is up at Mercersburg now. Just was an incredible mentor. He is just, you know, four years older than us but he is about 40 years more mature than any of us—probably still is. And was a great first mentor.
He got a bunch of guys who were coming out of the Army; we were all in San Antonio to do modern pentathlon. And so there were a bunch of swimmers down there, and he got a bunch of us young guys to be his assistants. And it was just a great environment because everybody in it was a junky. And, you know, back at the time, you would get a… these guys, you know, you would get an article and just poured over it. Or somebody would email you one of her workouts, and Oh, what’s Debbie doing? You know.
[Shoulberg]: They did not have emails back then.
[Block]: Yeah, it was not email, it was real mail. And you would open it up, and you would find out. Or you would get on the phone call and what… what is George Haines doing? What kind of workouts are going on? And, you know. And we would go out and get 12 tacos and a pitcher of beer, and just would dissect an article. Or if we would get a book, dissect the book. And so early on it was pretty much autodidactic: we would go to every clinic we could go to, read every book we could read, every article, exchanging letters with other coaches, phone calls, gossip.
I think the formal part sort of came in probably the next stage of my life, when I actually took over a program. I realized that I was not that smart, so I should hire really-smart people. So I hired a bunch of guys and almost all of them, since it was a school system, got paid better for getting a master’s. So a lot of them did their master’s research on our kids—benefited from that. So then we kept relationships with those departments and had grad students for years. A lot of our guys went on and got PhDs, MDs, while they were coaching with us. So that is sort of the more formal part.
And then I guess as you get this colored hair, or this lack of hair, you sort of look for what other things are like coaching. And you look in business, and you look in history, and you look in biographies. And then you would just want to hang around with the great people that are achieving things in other fields—you know, research and medicine and business—and take their life lessons into your kids. I think it sort of moves in stages.
[Warner]: Coach Shoulberg, that, the other sports, was a part of your education early in learning, right? That you saw what other… coaches…
[Shoulberg]: Yeah. I just watched Mr. Lewis and he was a genius. When I started to coach at Penn Square Swim Club, then the Norristown Y… the first time I ever was an assistant coach was 1983 when I was on the Pan Am team. I always worked by myself, but I learned from different disciplines. The nice thing about Swimming is it is not open heart surgery—it is not that complicated. Be honest to your kids, look them in the eye and challenge them; and be consistent.
But I never had the honor of working for a Don Gambril or something like that. I asked Mary Kelly if I could be her 10&Under coach at the Vesper Boat Club. And Jack Kelly—famous Olympian—I had a meeting with him, and he was stamping checks. And he said, “What are you here for?” I said: Well, I read an article that your wife wants a 10&U coach, no pay. And Jack Kelly said, “Where did you swim in college?” And I said: I went in the Army. And he said, “Well, you’ll never be a good coach.” And three years later, we beat his kids high school—yeah. [laughter]
[Warner]: Coach Montrella: what is the value of a mentor? We talk about this today, that so many young coaches are making very quick step from swimming into coaching and sometimes being a head coach. Jerry LaBonte was a mentor for you, true?
[Montrella]: Yes. Jerry was a swimmer, swim coach, athletic director at the YMCA. He was my primary mentor probably the first five or six years. And, quite frankly, the big jump in Southern California at that time was to go to one of Peter Daland’s clinics—that was in the late ’50s, early ’60s—Chris Christianson Swim School, Ralph Zwolsman in the Bay Area/Santa Monica Bay; the list goes on. We had great clinics with a lot of sharing. Quite frankly, never more than about a dozen people showing up—it is a battle to get through Southern California on the freeways systems. And that part of the mentoring was spectacular.
And then the first clinic was probably early ’60s: Doc Counsilman up in Sacramento. (Debbie.) And he did a great job; he had just come back from the Far East. And that was really a spark, because then I started seeing things a little more globally as opposed to locally. Then I had the wonderful opportunity to room with Doc in Belgium at the first-ever world clinic in biomechanics of Swimming. That was right after the ’70 European Championships, when we were scouting the East Germans—but that is another story.
But I think the mentoring process is very important, and I am going to sell a side-story here for just a moment. I was able to do the masters coach consultant program that USA Swimming did, 2006 and 2008—I think it is still going on. I think it has merit. But here is where I am going to get in trouble. Quite frankly, every coach that I visited who was under 30 years of age—and that was what the program was designed for—they had all the answers. I wasted my time with the 30 and unders; it was very aggravating. And you could tell it while you were actually doing it, but you had to keep your professional face on. Those over 40, they could not get enough of it. And then it was a tossup between 30 and 40.
Now for those of you in the under-30 range, maybe you will learn something from my experience, maybe not. Maybe you will just be disappointed in my comments. Those of you who are 40, I might get a few more friends. Those in the middle, you can go either way. But I think the program has merit, but I am not sure that it is reaching the 30 and unders; I am not sure why.
[Warner]: You told me something last spring that really hit home to me, which was that when you start out coaching swimming, if you coach Age Group swimmers, they tend to get bigger and stronger, grow up, and they keep getting faster. And you are a young coach and you feel like it must be you. And in fact it is their growth. And you said to me for the first time you start realizing how many questions there are about how to coach swimming well when you start dealing with Senior kids where their growth has stopped. And now you got to figure out how to help them get faster, even though there may not be that same growth going on.
Is that what we are talking about, in terms of maybe-young coaches that do not see… do not have the questions yet?
[Montrella]: When you are working with young age group people, and I say anybody who has not reach the point of their maximum growth—which means for some of them, it could be 20-22. They are still growing, they are still maturing. They are amoebas: almost no matter what you do with that young person, they are going to get better. It is not about you; it is about them—as we heard earlier from Dick. They will get better. Now it is whether you help them get better than Dick’s kids or George’s kids or Richard’s kids. That takes a special talent.
And we are all going to have that one Olympian, if we do the right job, every 20 years—it is going to happen. It is how many more you can get along the way, which is another question which I will not start to answer at this point. But you need to realize: they are going to improve. So it is not just: oh, we just want them to improve. No, I want them to improve… to beat his kids. Then you are probably teaching a little bit more, and you are going to get more smiles. And the smiles are what….
The time improvement, it is… I do not get too excited about it. On the other hand, when they are collegians, when they have already reached their maximum growth and development, that takes some more talent.
[Warner]: Coach Jochums you are a bright guy, a PhD, but you latched-on to Coach Tallman, you latched-on to Coach Cutino. How did you sort out who to listen to, who not to listen to; who were going to be the people that were going to help you meet your potential as a coach?
[Jochums]: Well, I swam for a woman by the name of Laurabelle Bookstaver. And she had two Olympians in a 23-foot by 75-foot pool—Berkeley Women’s City Club. She also coached/taught a young man by the name of Mark Spitz to swim, and she taught a young man by the name of Don Schollander to swim. She was technically probably one of the best we have ever had. And she kept telling me about this other guy named [Walt] Schlueter, who was a pretty good stroke man—probably the best we have ever had. And then she introduced me to a guy named Howard Firby, who is the best stroke person that has ever lived—without question.
And so, I was going to coach, I had decided, and my old man… there is not anything you cannot do if you work hard enough. Well, you can work hard enough and God just did not give you the tools to get in that certain sport where you want to go. But you can learn about it; you can become the best you can be at it.
And so I have Laurabelle. And then I went and swam for a guy named Jack Torney, a gentleman. Swimming had gone by; that was before the Aussies broke through and changed Swimming. And I ran into John Tallman. And you do not even know the name; nobody in this room knows the name but me. Maybe Steve Furniss, who swam for him when he was a little kid in Seattle, Washington. But John had a 160 IQ: there has been genius swim coaches. He could put a room to sleep. One-on-one meetings were exceptional. And I learned.
I was his first team captain, University of Washington. And I did not like him and he did not like me. And then I needed to coach, so he made me crawl—and I mean crawl. Six weeks he made me crawl to get the assistant job. And then I shut… he told me, “Shut your mouth and learn.” And I shut my mouth and I learned. Brilliant. 90% of what I do, I got from John Tallman.
And then I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Clean: Pete Cutino. 6’4”, 300-pound, no hair on his head. Threw a knife on the table… as he ran his team meeting, he threw a knife and stuck it in the table.
I was raised by an old man that said, “You’re stupid if you don’t learn from everybody.” Very simply, I learned from everybody. My dad was the key to my success, as I would guess [for] my friends at the table it has been the key to their success too—their parents. But my dad, when his ears went red… he growled all the time, but when his ears went red, that was yes-sir/no-sir time. When they rose up on his head and came forward, that was: run because a man was going to kill you. [laughter] My dad could take a keg of nails, and press it—a keg of nails is 100 pounds, folks—one handed, and balancing—not a dumbbell. I did not mess with my old man. But I learned from him and he taught lessons. In my house, there was no such thing as an excuse.
But you learn, you take… you weed out. You carry a shovel and you weed the crap out, and keep the good stuff. And that is the way… I have been that way my entire life. So I have been blessed who I got to work under. And then who I did not get to work under, Counsilman, I got to read about him. I read everything the man wrote.
One other thing I would like to… I am going to add right now. I went to war with all these people—I went to war with them. I did not take… I have never accepted their word for word. I asked the hard questions; I challenged them to give me answers; I drove them nuts. And that is what you are here to do. These speakers, if they do not answer a question, insist on it. You will be doing something for them too, because then they will have to think about what they have been saying. Because a lot of these folks that present here, do not—real simple: they do not. So it is up to you.
Everything in life is up to you. So you get what you need to get; and you ask the questions and you get the answers, go to school on it, see if it works. Then move on and make it yours. There is not anything that I do that is original; I stole from somebody everything I do. There is not anybody that is original anymore. All the ideas have been there for long, long time; people just make them work. I made my program work. You come up with your program and make it work.
[Warner]: Coach Shoulberg: are you a teacher first? When you started coaching, you first started as a swim teacher and you had something called the Olympic Swim at Germantown, of swimming the length of the pool. How does teaching fit into your coaching?
[Shoulberg]: The most important thing I do is teach, not coach. And I think great coaches are always teaching. The one thing I want to say: I think the best teachers in the world teach pre-K, K and first grade. And if you are working with those younger athletes, you are the one that is going to plant the seed of passion for Swimming. It is not going to be a college coach; it is not going to be Doc Counsilman. Your job is so important to the success of United States Swimming, or any country’s Swimming.
I love being a teacher first, but I never went to college. I have done a lot of reading, a lot of observation. My dad had an eighth grade education, but every morning did the New York Times crossword puzzle in under ten minutes—if he went over ten minutes, that was a bad day. So I think you are allowed to be self-educated and follow your own dreams and your own path.
But if it was not for the great teachers of little kids, none of us would be successful. Someone has to plant a seed of passion, and that is what all great coaches and people and teachers do. Plant that seed.
[Warner]: Coach Jochums: you wrote a phenomenal article about your development as a coach in your training program that was published in the ASCA magazine [edition 2014-03]. So one of the things that people may have seen—and I hope they have, but if you could just touch upon—is the difference between the way women teach and the way men teach. And how that impacted you and how you would teach stroke technique.
[Jochums]: Is my wife in the room? [laughter] I married the only person I am scared of. I am scared of nothing, nobody, except one human being. The mistake I made is I married her. [laughter] And she is my boss—that I do not always listen to.
Women. After I worked at Berkeley, Pete Cutino got me the job at Cal State Hayward—Cal State East Bay today. And the Physical Education department was the power on the campus. It was a great program and it included Dance the way PE programs used to back in the 1930s when they first came in. And Dance people are a little different, but they also teach different. And Laurabelle taught different. Women do not teach by skill; men teach skill, women teach movement. They talk about movement: what did it feel like?
Well, you know what? I found out that they are more right than I was teaching that: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5; you got it. No, you don’t. You have got to know what you are doing.
Then I decided to test it. So I started asking great athletes—good ones, anyhow—what they were doing. Did they know what they were doing? And do you know what I found out? They did. They knew when they made that special move on the basketball court, or the football field. They knew. It was not just instinctive. It was instinctive but they also knew what they were doing.
And so, I started teaching that way, the way women teach. And I can drive a swimmer nuts: “What is your left hand doing?” I don’t know. Come back; I am there: “What’s your left hand doing?” I drove those swimmers nuts. And pretty soon, they would go, “What my left hand is….”
And I am going to tell a story—and then I will be quiet again. But very simply, I had two pretty-good swimmers named [Tim] Shaw and [Bruce] Furniss. (Not the one [Steve Furniss] sitting back there, but the other one, the brother).
But Tim or Bruce could say to me… they would be in the workout, and they go: Something’s wrong. And I go, “Okay, I’ll take a look.” And then they would come back: It’s in the left hand, front end. I would go, “Oh, yep, you’re right.” And then they would go down and say: I’m going to do this now. And I would go, “Okay.” And then they would do it and they would go: I got it; that’s fixed. Thanks Coach. Coachin’! [laughter]
But we got there because I had driven them nuts, earlier in their career, saying, “What’s your hand doing?” It can be taught. You people ought to… that is a good story; you ought to take it to heart, learn from it.
But once again, whose job is it to learn? The swimmer.
[Warner]: Coach Montrella, we are going to get into, a little bit about, long-term security. Something that you and George Block are going to be available, I think, tomorrow afternoon to get into it at length—which I urge everybody to participate.
I can say it in 30 seconds; the question is: can you give us a snapshot of how you spent your last 10 months before this clinic. What is your life is like today? Thirty seconds, that is all you have got, but everybody deserves a picture.
[Montrella]: I have got a 31-foot boat that my wife puts up with. Took it up to San Francisco six years ago, with Bev [his wife]. Been in every harbor between Ensenada and San Francisco; enjoyed every bit of it. I have learned a little bit more about prop development and planning. Got hammered by Mother Nature on this last trip, which Bev did not go with me and I think that is why I got hammered. And then I also last Christmas, November, Bev and I volunteered as a crew at a 56-foot yacht to go down to La Paz along the peninsula. And then last June, I helped the gentleman bring his boat back.
[Warner]: A little time in Costa Rica, a little time in Hawaii; over the course of the last 12 months or so.
[Montrella]: Anywhere from two weeks to 30 days in Hawaii; Costa Rica, two-and-a-half weeks. We are leaving for Africa in about a month, and we will be gone a month.
[Warner]: And now, Coach Block is going to tell you how to get that done. George, can you explain what this chart means, and then tomorrow, perhaps, you can get into it in depth.
[Block]: What it [the chart] means is start early. And, so the lines out there show that… I guess they call her Susan, is putting in $5,000 a year. And all she does is invest for ten years, between 25 and 35. And then you see the line sort of flattens out (so it is sort of that middle line). So she has invested $50,000, but at the end, she has $600,000. And then Bill is that real dark line over there. And he starts when Susan stops, and he goes $5,000 a year for 30 years. And so he invests three times the amount of money, but he ends up with $540,000. And then there is Chris, who starts at the same time Susan does and just keeps the $5,000 a year going; and he ends-up with over a million bucks.
So the reason this is in my slideshow tomorrow is just to say: start early. All the power is early. And so the young guys out there: start early. The old guys out there: mentor your young guys to get them to start early. Because when we were all young, if somebody had not have made us do it, we would have not done it—we would have just spend it on beer. Get them to start early.
[Warner]: And you were not that smart, when you were young, to do it yourself, but you ran into somebody who kind of made you start early. True?
[Block]: I was not only not that smart, I was really, really dumb. Sometimes aggressively stupid. [laughter] But we ended up with somebody at our first club… I ended up at my first club, I was coaching at a pretty affluent area—and did have the brains to stay there. But, basically, a guy took me by the ear and made me start investing the day we were out of the military. Basically, start doing it now. And start taking care of your fundamentals: start taking care of your insurance, start taking care of your investments. And, you know, at that time, it was a couple of hundred bucks a month; but, drip, drip, drip and the power of compound interest… you know, suddenly you look around and holy shit.
[Warner]: Coach Montrella, this is you a long time ago—probably speaking Fort Lauderdale at the Hall of Fame. What is the 8+8 rule? And let us start a little further back than that: Mrs. Atwood did you a favor? Of helping you learn, as a young coach, about the power of compound interest and the power of investing and saving.
[Montrella]: Mrs. Atwood did teach me a lot, but it was Pepper Simmons, Anne Simmons’ mother, who was the accountant. And she absolutely got me started in the right direction on, not so much saving but investing. And the 8+8 is: 8% per year, times 8 years, you double your money. 8% per year for eight years: you double your money. If you are starting out in your 20s, or even 30s at this point, in coaching, do the math and you can see how rapidly that develops. And that is basically the same thing that George just said.
8%, eight years, you double your money. And that is not touching it; that is letting somebody else manage it. Because if you are doing the job coaching, you cannot manage your own money. You need a good, honest, conservative, financial adviser. Independent financial adviser.
[Warner]: (I think it is 1:00 tomorrow that you guys are going to talk more about retirement and planning and things like that. I think that’s right.)
When we set up this panel, we did not purposely do this. But it just so happens that the average marital length here is about 40 years, between these guys—that they have been married for that long,. George, you had a conversation with your new bride a long time ago, who explained to you the difference between a high achiever and a workaholic. And fortunately, you passed, apparently, as a high achiever but not as a workaholic, and that made it work. Is that how it worked?
[Block]: That is a shitty memory, but, uh,… I came in my house one night; we were still pretty young. And my wife was sitting in front of the TV—I think she was watching Zig Ziglar or Tony Robbins or one of those motivational guys on TV—and she was smiling but crying. And I was going, What’s going on? What, what do you need motivation for?, you know. And she said, “I just found out that you’re a high achiever, not a workaholic.” And, I mean, obvious, to this day, I feel like a piece of shit for that. [chocking up] Because I was glad she found that out, but I had no idea that I was making her feel that way.
She was interpreting all this time I was putting-in with other people’s kids, and at other places other than our home, some other way. And I realized what a giant asshole I was, and what a really poor job of communicating I was doing to the most important person in my life.
[Warner]: Coach Shoulberg, you went out with Molly the first time as a high school student, and told her after that date you were going to marry her. (That’s right.) Working 72 hours a week, pretty much for 40 years or so at Germantown. But in 1978 you went away on a trip, for a month or so, and that kind of changed your thinking about the amount of time you should spend with your family versus spending time with kids, as George described.
[Shoulberg]: January 6, 1956, I took Molly to a party. She probably did not even know my last name. And I said, “I am going to marry you. You’re very cool.” She said, “Oh my God, you are the weirdest guy I ever went out with.” [laughter] The weirdest guy. And she said her parents just bought a new home. There was a big bank in the backyard, and her dad, at 39, had a massive heart attack.
So every weekend I would go pick her up, I got there 40 minutes early, put on a white t-shirt, took off that blue-collared shirt—you know, I love blue-collared shirts—and I mowed the backyard. And then, I would clean the lawn mower off and wash off in the garage, put the lawn mower back and knock on the front door. I knew I was going to get her, because I won-over her mom and dad.
But if you are smart enough to see you have something really great in your life, you ought to grab it and just take it—the hell with it—and run with it. So we were 18 and 19, I was in the Army, when we got married. We had 200 bucks between us. We are going to hit 56 years in December. Only one wife, one marriage, and that is plenty for me. And we were fortunate to have four kids.
But the one thing my wife taught me: when I got out of the Army, she handed me a little booklet. And she said, “Every Sunday, we will go over to see where you spent your allowance.” I am earning the money and she is controlling it: the smartest thing I ever did. And we were missing one dime, and 46 minutes later, I realized I had bought a pack of crackers. And she said, “Richard, never make that mistake again.” [laughter] And so, we had young kids. We were in love; we are still in love. But without the support of your spouse, it is really hard to be successful.
And I had the pleasure of going out to Doc Counsilman’s home, when he was writing his second book: the… (The New Science) The New Science of Swimming—whatever the heck it was called. And Doc and his son and Marge would ask me what my codes were; what did they mean. So I flew out to Indiana on my own dime, and spent 21 hours with Doc Counsilman’s home. And when I got in the car, I realized it was not Doc Counsilman, it was Marge Counsilman. And so when I got off the plane… when I got to the airport, I called John Leonard. And I said, “We need to have the spouse speak at these clinics. They are the glue; they’re the cement. They’re the ones that bond everything together.”
The first ten years of G.A. [Germantown Academy], I worked from 6:00 in the morning to 9:00 Monday, Tuesday, Thursday. Wednesday, I went home and ate dinner, and then, I had to do an alumni swim at 9:00. And no one really came except one lady who wore a two-piece suit and a mink coat—wow, that was awesome. [laughter]
But… you have to work hard. And if you are afraid to work hard. and if coaching is working, I would suggest you take another career. If coaching is working, take another career. Take another career where you can spend equal amount of time with your spouse. But the spouse is the key of my life; not the swimmers, but my spouse has allowed me to do what I have a passion for. And I create a passion with little kids to love Swimming.
And if I do it at GA after June of 2015, it will be GA. If not, it will be a local place—I don’t care. I am going to help kids, because God gave me a talent. To work with kids and help kids, and it is… it is my addiction. And if it is… if you are looking at the clock and you go Oh shit, another day of 13 hours: move on, because you are cheating the athletes. If you are cheating the athletes, you are not a good teacher. That is all I want to say.
[Warner]: Coach Montrella, good or bad, you married a swim coach—a great swim coach—and a past Olympic team manager. But when you guys got married, you were living in Mission Viejo and still coaching at Lakewood. Where did you spend some of your nights, during those early years of marriage?
[Montrella]: We did buy a home together at Mission Viejo in a partnership before we got married. And then we got married a few months later and switched it: we cleaned the partnership out, homesteaded it and everything else. I got really lucky; I am sure the rest of the guys feel the same way. It is 39 years this November. And Bev was coaching for Mark Schubert at Mission Viejo. We met at Concord, California, during the East German/USA dual meet. We had seen each other before that, but that was really the meeting. And we got married 15 months later.
Having a swim coach as a spouse has been spectacular. Are there ups and downs? Absolutely. But overall, I was very fortunate: I married a smart woman, who had two great kids. I got really lucky, and the guy who married her first really screwed up.
And you are right about her coaching ability: she has not gotten the credit she deserves. And one of the highlights for me was realizing, when I saw it happening at the Olympic International Committee, for the first time somebody else noticed. If you have ever gone to elections at the national convention for coaches, you know that they can go on and on and on—first round, second round, third round—to find out who the coaches might be or the managers or the assistant managers. And, so there was an election. And then somebody came out to identified the results. And on the manager’s side, or Chef de Mission—whatever that is called—they said, Well, we’ve got one selected. And it was like the room got quiet: we can’t… what? You mean, we’re not going to have three or four runoffs? We’re not going to eliminate the bottom votes, and then vote again, and eliminate the bottom votes, and then vote again? And not only did she get elected to be manager on the first ballot, but she got it, as the first female to ever be a manager for a men’s and women’s team. And I thought to myself: wow, people are finding out just how sharp she is.
[Warner]: Is Bev Montrella in the room? Stand up please. [applause]
I thought that was you. But you did not answer my question. So this is on the opposite side of that beautiful tale, which is you spent some time when you first got married in your van. True?
[Montrella]: Correct. When we bought the home in Mission Viejo, I was living about 45 miles away… or I was coaching 45 miles away. And going until 8:00 at night and getting up at 4:00 in the morning to get to practice on time, 4:30. I was not getting a whole lot of sleep; so two nights a week, I slept in the van, on the property, in the parking lot, at the pool. And we did that for nearly two years; that probably saved our marriage. [laughter]
[Warner]: Coach Jochums, we are going to have to take a break here in a couple of minutes, (until 11:30), but I have got to ask this question again. You have put the fear factor out there many times, but why have you stayed together with this woman that you have been afraid of for all these years? [laughter] You used to tell a story about… and this is borderline politically, or is very politically, incorrect so I will just take it one step….
[Jochums]: Well I cannot deal with it if it is politically incorrect; I live to be politically correct. [laughter]
[Warner]: That you would come home during a taper, and you would be so concerned about your swimmers that you would first beat the dog. And you said: the dog always liked me no matter how hard I would beat him. And I know you were joking. But you would go through all that, and, you know, then you would go back to the pool the next day and you tell all the kids We’re on the way, boys. I know exactly where we are; we’re on the way. And then you would go home again the next night, and you did not know what the heck was going on. How did you guys stay together all this time?
[Jochums]: We had rules. My dinner went on the table at a specific time. And if I was home for it, it was warm when I ate it; if I was not home on time, it was cold when I ate it. I learned that I like warm food better than I like cold food. [laughter]
It was the chance I had, because I have four children. And I had four children because I wanted four children. In fact, my wife sold the last child for a coffee table: she got her coffee table and I got my fourth kid. But, very simply, I love my children; and the most important thing in my life is my children. But if I was going to take care of other people’s children, I had to care about them equally. And so Mara got to be the full-time parent and raise them, and so I could trust her.
We also had a rule that I could be what I was right through the taper and until the meet was over. And then we played by her rules for the next three months, and I was not allowed to have temper–tantrums or yell or scream or talk back—she was the boss. And as it got time for championship season, I started getting uptight and she would put-up with me. That was only for two weeks; I gave away a lot. [laughter] What can I say?
The part about the taper, that Chuck referred to, very simply is: when you are tapering kids, you have to be positive, there is no down days. And they will do stuff in a taper, you will go: Oh my God, what is going on? And the kid looks at you; you say “You’re fine; relax.” [laughter] Then you go home and you cry. You get in the garage and you can cry. But do not let the kids see you cry. Because you know what the kids will do for you? They will make the taper happen, as long as they keep watching you believe in what you are doing with them. Kids are amazing—kids are amazing. My own are amazing.
I am the dumbest one in my family—I am going to finish with this. I am the dumbest one in my family. And I got to fly… I flew into Atlanta before I came here because my grandson is a senior at Georgia Tech. And so I stopped and had dinner with he and his girlfriend. And he is doing the Jochums custom: he is marrying up. And a really good-looking woman. And the Jochums men all do that: that is a rule. [laughter] And the diamonds were with us. But I said I am the dumbest one in the family, and my grandson said, “Grandpa, don’t worry about it: we all know it.” [laughter] And I am going to talk to his father about that.
But we stayed married because, one, I love her. Her mistake in life is who she fell in love with and still loves. And we make it work. And we make terrible mistakes. And anybody that knows us knows that we fight a little bit—or a lot. But each day, we get up and we try not to repeat the mistakes we made; we try to get better each day, just like you are supposed to do as a coach.
And the last thing I will finish with right now is that I have told her I want a trophy. We are going to be 50 years married in a year-and-a-half and I want a trophy. I do not think I am going to get it, but I have asked for it.
[Warner]: George, last question and we are taking a break; circling back to you. When we were doing research for this, I asked all the coaches about their National Team experience and this and that for introduction purpose. George Block, you have been offered a lot of opportunities to be a National Team coach; you have had Olympians… six Olympians in three different disciplines of Swimming, Pentathlon, Triathlon. How many national trips have you ever been on and why?
[Block]: I have been on zero. I have got one guy who is in the lobby who has made a lot of them and he was pissed at me for not going on them. But I was a coach and as also an athletic director for a school district, so I did not have a lot of time. And so whatever little time we had, in that window after Nationals and before school started, was for my family.
And committing to coach a US National Team is a serious commitment; I mean, you have training camps… you know, it is a serious deal. And, (a), they did not need me because I knew whoever was going to coach them on the trip was a better coach than I was, so they were going to get an upgrade. But that was my family… sometimes it was just a weekend. Sometimes all we had was three days before we had to start school inservice and all that stuff. And sometimes we have two weeks. But whatever time that was, was my family’s time and so I just said no.
[Warner]: Hope we will see you at 11:30.
[Chuck Warner]: Welcome back everybody. We know how much you like to be on time, and your swimmers be on time. So we are going to start going here because we inevitably push things later and later—we just have to get all of our group back. You guys that are the first in will get more than the others.
Our plan is to talk a lot of more about methodology and turning on the light, and how to do that and some of the practical things, in this second hour. And if it is more freewheeling… that is probably the way it is going to work out. Something that I was going to talk about, or we were going to talk about—or I was going to ask these guys to talk about—in the first hour was about building coaching staffs. And we missed it because of our time. So I think we could take a couple of minutes and then we will get a little bit more into the other subjects; as I know people will filter into the room. But we are going to fool all of them into finding out that we started without them; and first is first and second is last, as they say.
This was a quote up here from Doc Counsilman, as told to George Block, that: when you’re building a coaching staff, it’s hard to find someone with 20 years of experience, but it’s easy to find someone with one year of experience 20 times. And George is an Assistant Athletic Director in San Antonio; you have done a lot of hiring. How did this impact you, and how did you change the way you developed how you look for assistant coaches, and hire people?
[Block]: I was out for a run one day and I was just sort of thinking about my staff, and I was frustrated and I was mulling it over. And I realized that almost exactly 50% of them were just world-class coaches and that 50% of them were just zeroes, and that I had hired all of them. And so I had to have that moment of personal accountability. And I realized that I was using the wrong measuring stick: that I was hiring resumes.
And so I started thinking about… the resumes of both groups were pretty similar. But what was different about the group that was world-class, and in some cases there, the resumes were not quite as good. But over the course of the run, I sort of came down to three energies… at least that is the way I called it. All the guys who were world-class had: physical energy, mental energy and spiritual energy.
And so in an interviewing context, you could look for: Do you work out? Do you do something to stay fit? Do you walk? Do you swim? Do you ride a bike? Do you do something? Because the guys that do are also active on the deck or on the soccer field; wherever they are coaching they are moving around, they are all over—they are physically involved with their place.
And the ones that have intellectual energy are perpetual students of the sport. But they are also perpetual students: they are reading the paper, they know current events, they are reading books, they are reading a novel, they are reading non-fiction, they are up with their coaching journals. They are talking about stuff, they are conversant, they are interested, they are perpetually curious about things outside their profession that are like their profession. So it became easy to interview for it once I realize I was looking for it.
And the coaches that were world-class all had a spiritual energy. And that did not mean they were all religious; I mean some of them were hardcore agnostics—you know, like, Man, I just can’t figure this out. Some of them were anti-religious, some… and every possible religion was there. But they had all wrestled with it; they just did not inherit it—you know this is the coat my mom handed me and so…. They had all wrestled with their own personal spiritual journey. And I am sort of believer that coaching is really touching the soul of a kid; and how can you touch somebody else’s soul unless you have touched your own?
And so I just started looking for people with physical energy, intellectual energy and spiritual energy; and I did a lot better than when I was looking at resumes.
[Warner]: Were those kid magnets?
[Block]: Kid magnets is a concept that I just sort of woke up to, again, by accident. You know, like I told everybody: I am not very smart; I usually just stumble over things.
In ’96, I was a coach for a group from… I was the Nicaraguan coach for 1996. And I was the Nicaraguan coach because all the good swimmers left and came to the US, and ended up in San Antonio and Miami and places like that. And so as part of the deal, beforehand, we had to go back from ’92 to ’96 and do a bunch of clinics and meets and all that sort of things. And so when I would take these kids back, the coaches in Nicaragua were really resentful; in some ways, it is like when a college coach gets the credit for club kid getting an Olympic medal—you know, there is that resentment. And one of the things I had to explain to the coaches in Nicaragua was: the only reason that I was there was because they, under incredibly adverse circumstances of a national civil war, had made these kids fall in love with the sport, given them great strokes, and given them an incredible work ethic. And when these kids came up to the States, you know, you would say was this a hard work out? And they are like: Well, geez, there are no bullets flying overhead, so no, it was not that difficult.
And so what I came to realize is that… sort of like Coach Shoulberg was saying, that the first coach is the one that makes them fall in love with the sport. And that is the critical… if that does not happen, nothing else happens. And so you want somebody who is just a kid-magnet as that first coach. And then once they fall in love with the sport, then you can start teaching them and doing all that stuff that Dick [Jochums] was saying that Laurabelle [Bookstaver] was… teach all those great strokes, great fundamentals. And when they have got that, then you can start giving them a work ethic. And they are a little bit older, in those middle school ages, and they need things black and white and forget gray. And that sort of third coach will give them that great work ethic.
And so, I looked for those three energies, and then depending on where the coach was going to be placed: was it somebody early-on in the food chain, in the mid-levels, the higher end—for us, which is you know middle school and high school. Were they the kid-magnet, were they the technician, or were they the work-ethic person?
[Warner]: Jim [Montrella], without getting into those specific levels, you have been an assistant coach as well as run your own programs and been an athletic director; what do you feel like is kind of the generic role that an assistant coach needs to be in? For assistant coaches that are in the room, is there a loyalty factor, is there a feedback factor? What role did you feel like you should be playing as an assistant coach?
[Montrella]: Yes. The assistant coach’s responsibility and accountability is to be loyal to the head coach and make them to look good. Now, that can be really hard, depending on who you are working for or, I prefer to say, with. I think it is way better to coach with the head coach, not for the head coach. And if you see yourself as a for, you probably are not coaching with the right head coach. If you see yourself with, you are probably getting a good coach and a good mentor.
But beyond a shadow of the doubt—having been an athletic director as well as coaching at every level except Division II—your job is to make the head coach looks good. And if you have to talk to the head coach behind closed doors to do that, then that is fine. But you have to have a unified front and be loyal to the head coach—that is the person who hired you.
[Warner]: Coach [Richard] Shoulberg, what is your responsibility as a head coach to the assistant coaches, in terms of mentoring and developing those assistant coaches? You give a lot of autonomy, and have over the years, to some of your assistant coaches.
[Shoulberg]: In 1978 I went to Junior Nationals—the first and only time. Came home and laid out the calendar: if I go to Junior Nationals twice a year and Senior Nationals twice a year, I am away from my family one month—and nobody pays me enough money to be away from my family one month. So, Jack Bauerle in ’78 took the kids to Junior Nationals, and later on Chris Martin—who is now the head coach in Shanghai—and Dan Flack and Tyler Fenwick and… the list goes on and on and on.
When they go to the Junior Nationals meet, they pick the relays; but the parents are told: Shoulberg picked the relays. I want to protect the young assistant coaches, because you know how the parents can be. But I want them [the assistants] to use their own brain; I want them to be completely engaged with the kids. They have traveled with me enough on other meets that they know my rules, and I want them to follow those rules. And I do not have a lot of rules. But I want a consistency: when Jack Bauerle took the kids to Junior Nationals, it was very similar to what I would be doing with the kids at Senior Nationals.
So, we mentor: we talk about the dos and don’ts of what you do at a major meet. How important rest is. How important when you warm the athletes up; each athlete is different. I do a lot of fartlek swimming in warm-up. So I want my assistant coaches to do a lot of fartlek swimming, and get a feel, more so than: 4×50 on 1:00 and this is what your average, now you’re going to swim super-fast—I do not see how it relates. I teach my assistant coaches what I think my philosophies are. And they are always allowed to challenge me, but never in front of the athletes. And I never challenge them in front of the athletes. There is a time when assistant coach and coach works together: you air-out the differences and you go forward. But once you leave the room, then everyone is on the same page.
I know I have been on international staffs where I did not even know what the relay would be. And when I was given the opportunity to be a head coach on an international staff, I met with the whole staff, and we talked about the relays and we agreed about the relays. Because that is one of the sticking points, particularly when money is tied to performance; so if you are on a relay and you get a gold medal, you get X amount of dollars. So the older athletes are really making sure they are protecting their interest. But I went to assistant coaches on a national staff to have input, and then I support. When I went to the Pan Am Games, I said to Mark Bernardino, in 2011: “You know these college guys. You’ve seen them swim a lot more than I have. Help me, help me, make the relays.” And I am always clear, and I try to be consistent.
But assistant coaches really play a huge role in any program; but you have to be on the same page.
[Warner]: Developing your training concept. This is probably the most interesting thing to get into for, I think, everybody in the room possibly. But this quote George gave me that: most coaches spend the first three years building their black box, or concept of how things work, and then the next 30 years refining it. And refining is the trick. From Doc Counsilman.
When we start out, as we talked about earlier, with that philosophy of coaching and getting kids excited and wanting to turn on that light—that Jim talked about—we are starting to create a sort of context for what you are all there for—as Coach Jochums described in detail. George Block, can you articulate the discussion that went back-and-forth this winter over context of coaching, and how effective or important that is to the effectiveness of a coach?
[Block]: Yeah. I think this was sort of a sub-set of that discussion of 10,000 hours and deliberate practice. John [Leonard] sent-out an email describing his son, Jackson, spending two hours of intense, one-on-one time with a breaststroke swimmer in his group, and how much improvement this kid made; but then saying: well, that can’t be deliberate practice because it’s not sustainable. You cannot spend two hours with that kid every day; or if he does, in a week, you have coached five kids. How does this work? And what I was pointing out back to him was, sort of: read the whole story, read the whole article, about deliberate practice.
In deliberate practice, the story was about this girl who is a clarinet player. And during one of her practices, she was practicing, sounding like a typical high school kid: practicing clarinet and sounding terrible and playing the song front-to-back. But the second one, she was listening to a recording of her music teacher playing a jazz solo. And the recording totally turned her on. And that is what turned her on to the music; that is why she wanted to play clarinet. That was the picture in her mind of who she wanted to be and how she wanted to sound.
And then she spent an hour just digging in and working through that song, and playing it every possible way; and playing a note here, and fingering there, and working on little bits and pieces. And the researchers said that in 15 minutes she improved herself five months, because the practice was so intense. And what I was trying to point-out was that: there was no teacher there, nobody was making her do that, it was all on her own. As everybody has said up here: it is up to the athlete.
But what the music teacher did is flick the switch. And gave her an example of what it could sound like, gave her a model of what she could aspire to, turned her on emotionally about how cool clarinet could be. And so this girl wanted to do that. And because the teacher had lit the fire for her and given her context of Oh, this is why I’m learning the scale, this is why I’m learning the fingering, this is why I’m learning the embouchure, there was a purpose to her practice. And all the deliberate practice came from that kid, but all the context came from the teacher. And the way we get kids that practice deliberately is to give them that context in advance; give them that picture. So then know why they are doing it. And I think you need to give them the little why and then the bigger why.
[Warner]: Jim, when you started at Lakewood you were trying to get kids to come to morning practice. And it did not happen easily and you were not going to make them come. Can you tell everybody how you got kids to start to come to morning practice, in those early Lakewood days before you had 30 kids at the national championships?
[Montrella]: I can tell you at my age today, I would not do it. I was going to school full-time, although not a good student at that time—maybe my wife would tell you I have never been a good student. I decided I needed to spend a little bit more time studying; and I wanted to get morning practice started and I wanted to get the kids excited about it so they would improve. I told them morning practice would be there, and I told them what days of the week and what time. And if they could come by, I would be very happy to help them, even one-on-one. And if they were not there, I was going to do my homework in the office.
I was a very lonely coach for about four months. And then finally, one of the kids decided—I will never forget—Cheryl Bogardus decided that she wanted to come to morning practice. And she started to coming to morning practice; I was working one-on-one with her for about an hour, hour-and-15 minutes. And she started getting a whole lot better, and other kids started seeing her getting better. And naturally, I took advantage of that by speaking in the third person in the afternoon practices when everyone was there; saying, Wow, Cheryl, that morning practice is really helping you a lot. And naturally, Susie and Henry and John all heard that, and pretty soon, morning practices got a little bit more popular.
But I have spent a lot of time alone, but I do not believe in required practices. I believe in expectations. But required I do not see ever working, especially when you do not have a hammer. And in Age Group coaching, you do not have a hammer.
[Warner]: Coach Shoulberg, you said that… (and this may be a guy getting people excited about Swimming, here on the screen). But you said that after somebody spends a year in your program with a commitment to training, then you will start to do individual design and that sort of thing. How do you get kids excited? And how do you get them to make the exceptional commitments you have had such a great history of making?
[Shoulberg]: I talk to every athlete, every day. And lots of times it has nothing to do with Swimming. And I am always analyzing how they are training, and I individualize it.
So, we have a 6-lane, 25-yard pool. When Arthur Frayler came, let’s say the set said 6×500 on 5:45. I would say to Arthur “I think you can do 6x600s on the 5:45”, and that little sucker loved it. Would everyone love it? No. Could everyone do it? Absolutely, not. But I individually challenge kids, as I get to know them better.
But the first thing I want to look at in all my athletes is their stroke technique on all four strokes. And I do not want my athletes to look alike: I am not teaching Synchronized Swimming. Everyone’s patterns may be a little bit different but similar, but never the same. Some coaches coach every kid to swim breaststroke the same way, and he will have nine bad swimmers and one good one.
So I just get to know the kids individually. What are their interests? What do they like? What do they like away from the pool? I think my strength is: I get to know my swimmers as people first, and then swimmers second.
[Warner]: Coach Jochums, we talked about your philosophy earlier: arete/aretai, agon. Tim Shaw was at this clinic 15 years ago or so. And as a grown man with children, he said, “I heard that philosophy for the first time. I never need to hear it again.” And “It’s what’s helped me become the man I am today.” (This [on slide] is him on the cover of Sports Illustrated, back from 1975 or so: To Swimming’s New Superstar.) You [Jochums] will remember him as the guy that made you famous. And then you kept getting more famous by making more other guys. How do you sustain that? How do you help somebody get that excited, and then continue to be excited to go for World Records? Or is it just to go for best times, and World Records are not really what you are going for?
[Jochums]: You go… you sell a dream. And it, soon, is no longer your dream: it is their dream. And until it becomes their dream, there is no Olympic title coming, there is no World Record coming, there is no success coming—unless they are super talented. But eventually, if they want to rise to the top, it has got to be their dream. A dream is something that they have to do each and every day. And there is a right way to do it, and there is a wrong way to try to do it.
This society that we live in right now—and I will not get into politics, I guarantee you—but, very simply: there is no easy way. If somebody is selling you an easy way, you ought to be running—the only thing they ought to see on you is your butt and your elbows and your heels, because you have got to get from that. Nobody can give you a damn thing; you have to earn it. It is really simple. It is a truth throughout the ages: the Greeks know about it, the Romans know about it, every society has known about it. There are no easy ways.
You sell the dream. They dream, they will make it happen. Coaches are made to look like they know what the hell they are doing by swimmers, not the other way around. I had a lot of success folks, and I was not the key to any of it. Tim Shaw, George DiCarlo, Tom Wilkins—was the last one that was an Olympian for me. You know, I learned not to give the hand signals; because Shaw got out of the water that time, he said, Did that hurt? and I said, “No, it didn’t hurt, Tim.” He said: Well, it hurt me. And I said, “That’s good, Tim. ”
Also, Tim made me; and I learned from Tim, because I almost destroy the poor guy. I had his red-cell count down to 11 just before we tried to make the team to go to Montreal. He held the World Record in the two, the four, the eight, and the fifteen. At the end of the Trials, he did not hold all those records anymore. In fact, there has only been two swimmers in history that have ever held those records at the same time: John Konrads, an Australian—Latvian, by the way; my wife is Latvian, she makes me say that—and Tim Shaw. But there is no secrets. We solved it and we worked at it, and I never buried a kids like I buried Tim Shaw. You know: he does not hate me; in fact, we like one another, we respect one another. And he deserves all the credit. Not Dick Jochums; Tim Shaw deserves the credit. In fact, every one of my swimmers deserves the credit. What I formed—and let me try to sell you this—you become a partner with your swimmer.
Dick Shoulberg just… Richard Shoulberg, excuse me—I did not mean to do that, Dick—very simply: you learn who they are and what they are, and you try to become friends or at least respect each other. They do not have to love you; they do not have to hate you. But to move them, you have to get an emotion; and if they feel nothing about you, you cannot move them, you cannot coach them. They need to go find somebody else to swim for, or they need to find another sport—I always recommend the other sport. But very simply: they have to have an emotion. Hate you, love you; it is not part of coaching, but it is an emotion that can be used. You can move somebody that hates you, you can move somebody to love you; you can get them to move. You cannot get them if they do not feel something. So, it is based on getting people to feel.
[Warner]: [For] Anybody: following up on that. Jim, you get into World Records with Susie Atwood: it cannot all be easy, it cannot all be at just a straight line. There has got to be times that kids are disappointed or you feel like they are getting off track. How do you pull them back on track? What do you do?
[Montrella]: Whatever they want.
Speaking about Susie: great Age Group swimmer. And because at that time I had time standards to get to our top training group, she made those standards and she was 12. And I thought, Oh, my God. So I expected her to do the same as everybody else in that group did, and she was pretty miserable after about six or eight months and was ready to quit the sport. Sat down and tried to figure out: Okay, what we can do? Do you want to go to this other group? Do you want to…. Because I was like, You have group standards, and we’re going to be consistent, and we’re going to keep things on the straight and narrow. And, actually, that was the first time I probably bent my little rules, and said, “Okay, what do you think you can do? What would you like to do?” And so we cut back, I think, about a third of the practices. And within less than a year she said, “Well, can I come to another one?” And another six or seven months later, “Can I come to another one?” So that was the step for Susie and I, together.
Great athlete, and I did… I bent the rules; but it worked. And it was interesting to me, because the kids who did not qualify who were in her age group, she actually was able to get to go with them more often because she did not have to come to the practices of the national group. So, specifically, to answer your question about Susie, that was it.
[Warner]: Coach Shoulberg, George: anything to add about overcoming obstacles? Suggestions that coaches might be able to use from your experience?
[Shoulberg]: I make it real simple: we all go through these high and low days; if you are honest with your athletes and your parents, it is the easiest way to go. You will not get trapped: if you try to talk them through it and you know you are not being honest with them, you will put yourself in a negative position. Just be honest with kids; that is really what they want. And then—sometimes parents do not want to hear it, but—be consistent and be honest, and you will have no troubles.
[Warner]: George, anything to add?
[Block]: I think you just have to level upfront that setbacks are going to be part of it; it is not linear. I mean, if anything, it is horizontal and a breakthrough, and a horizontal and a breakthrough. But I know Bruce Hayes, who was my one gold medalist was a relay, but lots of stumbles along the way, and conflict sometimes. But I think that is with anyone. All good athletes, all normal kids, have setbacks and conflicts, and you got to teach them that. I think, resilience is probably the most important thing that kids learn in the sport; you know that, and deferred gratification.
And I think sometimes we have got to be real deliberate about teaching resilience, and recognizing it and rewarding it. Because that ability to bounce back… one of my swimmers took my place as the head coach in my old club. He had a saying that, and I will quote him directly in this, is: Some days, shitty is as good as it gets. That sort of… at the end of a week and he is just hammered; he is just trying to make it through the week and fight through. And he was really proud of himself if he just made it through, and I was happy that he fought through it. So sometimes we just rewarded fighting through. It was not going to be pretty, it was not going to be real fast, sometimes it was just going to be wall-tag that day; but he was going to fight through it. And by resolving to fight thought it and fighting through, that was something to be rewarded and celebrated. Then know to have the sense to give him the next morning off.
[Warner]: Coach Jochums, did you teach resilience by using the phrase: I thought more of you than that. Is that what you were trying to get through to kids, that they could do better?
[Jochums]: Well, that is the worst thing that I could say to you. There is nothing worse than: I thought you were better than that; I thought you were tougher than that. That is the worst thing you could possibly say to somebody. I mean, they have a dream. And I would not have said that to a kid that had not committed to tell me that he was buying-the-dream and he wanted to be on the Olympic team and he wanted to be the best he could be, and his workouts show me that is a bunch of b.s. [bull shit]. It is okay if I am b.s.-ing, but I do not want my swimmers b.s.-ing, okay? Coaches are full of crap. But if you are on a trip and you want greatness, b.s. does not get it. Hard work, every day.
But I want to make another point: I learned from Mr. Shaw—by almost destroying him—that if it is not working, do not do it. Do something else. When they are broken down, take that pulse count. And you hear them go 30-30-30 on a 10 second count: take one, then 30 seconds later, then one minute after. (I know that shows age, because you are supposed to do 6 seconds, right? But I do 10.) 30-30-30: you got trouble. DiCarlo is telling you how bad he is feeling, and then you take his pulse count and he goes 36-22-11… I have got another repeat coming, George. Real simple: you are not broken down.
If you are breaking somebody down, change; if you are having a bad day. Because you have to design every workout. And here is a man talking to you that only had 6 or 7 workouts. That was total: I never did more than that. I had to bait… my kids knew what was coming. They had a big chart and said guess the workouts. The warm up is done, it is 800—we are going to give you that. He is going to kick: is it going to be 100s and 200s? Then he is going to have a 200 loosen. And the sets can be… and there was five of them. They knew what was coming every day.
And you balance… you do not measure day-by-day; you measure by where they are and how broken down and how tough it is. But if you are successful, you let them know they are being successful. They know when they are successful. So you plan your workouts so they can get success. And if you are not getting it… John Tallman taught me—and I should have learned with Tim, but I learned after Tim—send them home, give them a break. How many football teams would be better off if after having a bad practice instead of grinded more wind sprints on them, they sent them home, they took a half practice off. They would be a hell of a lot better. Do not be a football coach: they are the dumbest people in the world. Trust me, I know a lot of them, they are not bright. [But they are wealthy.] Well, they are brighter than swim coaches, when it comes to making money.
[Warner]: Jim, what are you going to add?
[Montrella]: Since we only have about 25 minutes left, I wanted to take a different tack, if I could. We have got a lot of club coaches here and I know that. One of the things I think is really important, and I actually stole the concept from Selden Fritschner—some of you may remember and know. A very fine coach, and he’s now with… I do not think he is with Special Olympics anymore; but a great coach, great administrator. The 12th Man, because he was coaching at Texas A&M at the time; and as you know the 12th Man in Texas [A&M] football is all the stands: everybody who is standing up, the whole game, which is the entire student body—and I hope that is still true at A&M. And I like the concept, and I applied that concept to Swimming.
And then I applied it to Age Group Swimming. And at the time when I first started using it, we were actually allowed to have any number of relays at the national championships and they could all score. And then it really paid-off to coach every child, every day; talk to every child, every day—and it does not have to be about swimming. And breaking that down further, I would say talk to every child, every set, in every lane. So if you have a 1200 set and you have four lanes of three, you have got to be moving from lane to lane to lane. You have got to signal, you have got to communicate: make sure they are alert and they are not falling asleep on your sets.
So, the concept of getting more numbers to the national championships became pretty important, or scoring more points with more people. And as much as I hate to admit it, it was not just winning, it was getting points. And that 12th Man—I kind of got off on the tangent, so bear with me—in Age Group swimming today, or club swimming, you are allowed two relays to score. I needed twelve people who could potentially score at the championships; so they could be proud, I could be proud, we could all feel fulfilled. Quite frankly, during the dual meet season, or the season leading up to the championships, that might have been a different story—we did not do real well.
But, if I am coaching 12, I am going to get 8. Because somebody is going to break an arm on the A relay or the B relay, somebody is going to break an ankle or a wrist. In college, believe it or not, you have to deal with rape… I mean there are so many things that could go wrong. But if you are coach everybody, every minute, every day, you are going to be able to have a real solid team. So I liken the 12th Man to be really good; our twelfth person is very important to us. And that will give you eight for two really strong relays. And I think that concept—and bend it in any which way that works best for you—is really good.
One other thing I will mention is: walk a 50, talk a 50—including signal. Every 50, instead of being at the end of the pool, walk. Walk a 50 for every single 50 you have them swim. And signal to them if their heads are in the water. They may not hear you, so you find another way to communicate. Or, if they are doing 400s, you have the responsibility when you come back to the end of the pool to talk to eight people—because they went eight 50s, it was long course. You do not have time to answer a phone, you do not talk to your assistant coaches; you are committed to them for the entire time they are in the water. Set after set after set.
I think that is important for me to say because I think we touch so many people. And when you look at the two-hour period or an hour-and-a-half period, and you have got 24 kids in the water, you can maybe speak to somebody for four minutes each. That is the best you have got, so use it really wisely.
[Warner]: Personal and team analysis and evaluation, use of data points.
John Leonard made the comment that there should be one national qualifier for a team of 200. And thus a team of 50 would have a national qualifier every four years in US[A] Swimming. George, you sent me this email about current statistics of USA Swimming, essentially saying that 10% of clubs in the United States produce all the Junior and Senior qualifiers. (And you guys in the audience can read through these numbers.) But it is one-half of 1% of U.S. registered swimmers are qualified for Nationals, one-half of 1% are qualified for Juniors. If the average club is about a 100 kids, then to be average the 100+ member club should have one Senior or Junior qualifier every year. But the fact of the matter is only 10% have any, and 90% have none.
Would you guys ever use any of this sort of thing with your club? Or look at this… we can get into a lot of the other details like: you do not need to work that hard anymore because now there are these speed programs. Right? I mean there are a lot of Age Group records being broken, and more and more people are smarter than you guys ever were because they can do it on a lot less.
[Block]: No, they can’t.
[Warner]: They can.
[Block]: You can do it for a real-short period of time and for a real-short time window, and then after that, it is going to fall apart because you are building a house without a foundation.
[Warner]: Coach Shoulberg, do you agree?
[Shoulberg]: Absolutely agree. Anyone who would be successful in Swimming has to pay a certain price. Anyone successful in the violin—to play at Lincoln Center—has to pay a price. There is no discipline without hard work—I do not care what you tell me.
[Warner]: Coach Jochums, you were the voice of dissent in the 1970s, when the world was all pushing 20,000 meters/yards a day, six days a week, and you claimed to be a speed guy. Can you explain… your speed program when 12 practices a week?
[Jochums]: (Why are you insulting me?) [laughter]
I have said it, and I have told everything I know. Very simply: it is somebody else’s trip and there is no easy way. There is no easy way. People are… when I first came into coaching and I came my first ASCA [World Clinic], half the people were trying to sell me there was an easier way; and none of them are here today. There is no easy way.
There is nothing that we are doing today that has not already been done. They are making the same mistakes that we made. There are people teaching… and I hope a couple of them are in here and they can come fight with me afterwards—I am still capable of that. Very simply: we quit straight-arm freestyle in the 1950s; we found out it sucks, it is slow. We are taking our best people and straight-arm-freestyling them. And we got our sprinters beat—in case nobody noticed: at Pan Pacs, our sprinters got beat. Somebody is going to come along and be a hero, and they are going to do what the Russians did with [Alexander] Popov, and all of the sudden take three lasts strokes per length and kick everybody’s butt because he is moving the body not the arms. What a concept; you mean you move the body in the water and not the arms.
I saw… Sippy Woodhead, the first time I saw her, or Janet Evans, both of them. I saw Janet Evans take 62 strokes the first time I saw her swim a length. They had her in fantastic shape, because she could go all day at 62. Somebody got her, and slowed her right-up, just a hair, and she was only taking 48 and she went World Record speed. Oh my God, you mean it’s moving the body that’s the key; not the arms? Not the hands? We have all seen it.
We have all seen it, and we can tell you that there is no easy way. There is hard work. And with hard work goes pride. And if you have pride, you are tough to beat. I mean there are no secrets to this sport; none.
[Warner]: But, Jim, if you are a college Swimming coach today and you work people hard, you might have people complaining to you in the athletic department. If you are a club swimming coach, you may have people complaining that down the street they are doing it on less, and look how fast their kids are going. How do you educate? How do you sell? What things could coaches say to their parents and to their kids that would help them understand that they are investing over a long period of time in a future that might not be realized immediately?
[Montrella]: I am not sure I can answer that question in anything short, but I will do the best I can.
Let us go back to the parents—and this is kind of a kick-off for George and I. One of the things that I could use now, because of my age, experience, and so on—and you may be able to do the same thing—is: “Do you have a retirement program, Mr. Jones, Mrs. Smith? Are you putting anything into it? Where do you expect to be, five years or ten years?” And then it is, “How old is your child?” And “Where do you see then going when they’re 17, 18? 22?” And you get them to start to think about what their child or children will look like, be like. What they went to be. And then you can say, “That’s what I’m doing. I already see where your child will be in 12 years.” Not at 8, but at 20; not at 10, but at 22.
So getting the parent educated to something more than the next Age Group meet or the next Age Group championship. You try to get them to foresee what it is going to take, possibly at the collegiate level. Not to get a scholarship, because if that is the only reason they are swimming, it is the wrong reason. And for the numbers that you can see right up here, there is a very small amount of money going around and it is not going to a whole lot of people. So they are passionate about having fun and improving and so on. So the education part, I think, is really important.
College kids—as we have already heard from everybody else here—you can do less in your freshmen year of college… if you came out of a solid club program that had a good base, you can go to a college program and do less for six months. Because they start school in August/September and the championships are February/March—depending on whether you get to the conference or NCAAs. So you are on six-month taper; you are going to improve a lot—I do not care what event it is. And then what happens? The kids say, “Oh, my God, this was so much better; I should be training like this. I shouldn’t go back to my club program: they trained too hard and I’m better than that.” You have already faced that; I know you have.
That can last for men, they may be able to get through about a year and a half. Testosterone levels are higher, larger, bigger; and they can get-by about a year and a half. By the time they get to be the end of their sophomore year, the beginning of the junior year, they start to realize they are in trouble and if they do not make an adjustment, they are going to be in real trouble by the time they are a senior.
The flipside of that is: if they can convince, be convinced, of what is going to happen in a majority of collegiate programs… not the big ones, not the great ones, not the ones that are always there in the top-20 year after year after year—they are putting in the work. Girls can last maybe twelve months, maybe a little bit more, depending on how much muscle mass, what their maturation levels are. They will not last as long as the males on less volume. But if you want them to be good their senior year—not just their freshman and sophomore year—you have got to convince them of what is going to happen, and then watch it happen. Unless they are not convinced, and then it may be too late.
[Warner]: George, did you have something to add?
[Block]: Yeah. I just talked about this exact subject in South Africa, so I will apologize to people who were there. You have got to tell people, coming in your door, exactly what they are getting. And if I say the golden circle, do you know what I am talking about? (Blank looks? No blank looks?) So the golden circle looks like an archery target: the outside circle is what, the next one is how, and the middle one is why.
And so… anybody who is showing-up for Dick Jochums’ practice knew exactly what they were getting; if you come to Dick Shoulberg’s place, you know exactly what you are getting. You know what product you are buying. And, in a way, all of us are the same the thing, we are all… our what is that we are a competitive swimming team—maybe a college team, maybe a small private school, maybe a major California club.
The how is a little bit different. If you go with Dick Jochums, you are getting five workouts. You know what you are getting, every day; the volume starts the same, the intensity goes up and up and up. With Shoulberg, you are swimming with buckets, you are having your stroke watched, you are doing all four strokes every day. That is what he is selling. So everybody’s how is a little bit different.
But the critical point, that you have got to tell the parents the first day, is why. Why are you there? What is your club really about. There is a reason that Dick wants his kids to pull buckets up and down the pool. There is a reason that this guy wants his kids to do more intensity every day than the day before. Why is that?
You know… (Can I violate the one-minute rule? He did it a couple of times.) [Got it.]
So we had this guy… It was a summer practice. It is Summer, it is Texas; sun comes up early, we can go practice a little bit later. Sun was already up and the radio alarm comes on, and the news is on. And the voice says, “And where did you learn that, sailor?” And the [second] voice says, “Taft High School swimming team, sir.” And that is one of our swimming teams. I went, Wait a minute, I know that voice. That voice was from Wrong Way Martinez.
Wrong Way Martinez was the slowest person ever on my team—ever. And we had a huge team. And we called him Wrong Way, because… if like a 500 was going one way, he would be going the other; if they were playing water polo and there was a counter attack going, he would still be going down on offense. It did not matter what sport it was, he was always going the wrong way. But he came out for Swimming as a high school kid, not because he wanted to be a swimmer, [but] because he wanted to join the Navy and he had to know how to swim to be in the Navy.
And so, it was the Iraq War; there were out in the Mediterranean. Storm came up, rough seas, two helicopters crashed. He went… in flaming waters, he goes over the side. He learned how to egg-beater in the high school Water Polo and learned how to swim in high school Swimming. The rescue swimmer, because of the fins, the water is sort of beating them up; because he was egg-beating and swimming, he could maneuver. And he saved six lives.
And so my lesson was, and the reasons that we are about is that: the Olympians have it easy. Because they know exactly what day they have got to bring it; they know exactly what challenge they signed up for. If they went to trials for the 200 breast, it is going to be the 200 breasts, and they are going to have an entourage there helping them. But for the rest of us, we have no idea what day will be called-on to bring our best, or what the situation will be. And so we have an obligation to teach our kids to be Olympians and bring their best every day, because they never know what day they are going to be called on to be their best.
And so what I am selling is being an Olympian. And people know that that means every day you are going to bring it—every day. And the rest of your life, you are going to be able to bring it every day. So, if you focus on the why, you do not have to deal with that stuff ever again. And parents will know what they bought. And the ones that do not want it will go down the street, and it is better for both of you.
[Jochums]: And how can one of your children, one of your swimmers, ever have a shot if you do not bring your best every day and demand the best every day.
Oh, parents give you phone calls? Let me give you a way to take the parent phone call—if you are running a great program. I took all the phone calls; I listened to every parent that wanted to talk to me. I am a parent; I understand them—they are necessary evils. “Hi, Mrs. whatever-your-name-is, or Mr. whatever-your-name-is…” and I would listen to them. And then I would say, “I will take care of that, first thing tomorrow morning.” And as I was putting the phone down, I went, dumb shit.
But, you know what? Two things happened. After I took the phone call, they complimented me, within a week, for making the change—and 99% of the time, I made no change, I just put the phone down. But you know what? One out of every 100 calls, there was an actual good comment, something I could learn from. So take the phone calls. Put down when it is ridiculous, but hear, listen. And listen to your swimmers.
And I appreciate, George, what you just said. Because that is what the college coaches that are not running right programs are doing to kids: they are teaching them to be less than they can be. What kind of world are we going to have if our youth is not the best they can be? This is best country in the world. I have traveled all over this world.
My wife, they escaped from the Nazis. Came out of Latvia; she went into Mississippi. And Papa, who has a PhD, worked in the fields with the blacks, picking cotton, and my mother-in-law worked in the kitchen. Deek, I do not run around the trees. “Dick, I do not beat around the bush.” Outstanding people. But they were the best; my wife is the best, my children are the best they can be each day—we insisted that in the family.
If you are not coaching to make your swimmers the best they can be, you are cheating them. You are taking money. Are you money swimmer? I have had money swimmers; Hi, good to see you? See you later. If you told me you wanted to be a swimmer, I made you eat all your words, every day: I thought you told me you wanted it; that’s not what you’re capable of. You’re better than that. Oh my God, that was the worst I could say to you.
I know these people here, they all said that—I thought you’re better than that—when they were upset with one of their good ones. And because they were partners, the relationship was two people headed in the same direction. I hope you find those types of relationships, they are fantastic.
[Block]: You know that, “You’re better than that”, is not just the cruelest thing you can say to a kid, it is also a great way to reframe things. You get to stop, and it lets the kid discard that. As soon as you say, that’s not you; that’s not who you are. It reframes the whole situation. It lets the kid take whatever error, stumble, setback, self-inflicted wound; and throw it away because: that is not him, that is not her. And it reframes it as: this is you. And the kid wants to get back into that frame.
And so, yeah, it is a [slapping sound], but it is also the best trick in the world to let the kid throw away a mistake—so they do not have to pack that baggage with them. And so saying, “You’re better than that.”, “That’s not you.”, “That’s not who you are.”, whatever those words are, is a great reframe and a great coaching tool.
[Warner]: We have got time for, I think, two more relatively-quick answers from everybody. The first being from the time you started to now, what do you know that you wish you knew then? Coach Shoulberg, what do you know that you wish you knew when you started, that maybe someone in the audience might benefit from?
[Shoulberg]: Do not make this sport complicated. It is not. Look kids in the eye, let them know how you feel about them. There are going to be good days, bad days; but always make sure they know you are there to support them.
I do not know if that answers your question, but I never made this sport complicated. If I wanted something complicated, I would not have been a swimming coach.
[Block]: I just think the very first thing: humility. I mean, I was the guy that was being talked about earlier: under 30, that knew everything. I am sure that when I was 26 years-old, I had all the answers; and when I as 46 years-old, I did not even know what the questions were. The sooner you get humility, the better off you are. But it took me a long time—because I am not as quick leaner as Dick—to realize that it is not you, it is them. On my very first day of swimming, my first day on the coaching deck: Pete [Williams] had just bought a club, bought the stopwatches, we rented a new pool, moved to a new location, and I was taking 10-and-under sign-ups. The first kid who walked in and signed-up was Bruce Hayes. So the very first kid that ever walked into my pool won an Olympic gold medal. So I thought: Man, I am hot shit. And as soon as you think you are hot shit, you are half right. [laughter]
[Warner]: And George, I have got to ask you again, before you leave the microphone here—and this may end-up being our last question. Your mission started with gold medals in your mind, and they ended-up naming the pool after you. What changed in your purpose of coaching from the beginning to the end?
[Block]: Well, first, we never talk about naming the pool after you, because at that complex every-other building is named after somebody who died in a rather unpleasant way. And when they called me up and said, Can we name the pool after you?, I was really quiet and I said, “Do I have to qualify?” And I was relieved when I found we did not have to.
I think, real quickly, it became obvious that it was not about the medals, that it was about the journey and about the process. And you get much-more addicted to the process than you do to the medals. In fact, what I have seen over the years, is that for the people, kids and parents and coaches, for whom it is about the medals, there is no commitment. There is none of the stuff it takes to get the medals. It is just, you know, buying the trophy to the end of the season.
And for the ones who actually get the medals, I know when we would host high school regional meets, and you could sweep them up from the floor after a high school regional—the kids did not care. The kids were about the journey, the personal achievement, the camaraderie; everything they learned along the way. So real quickly for me it became about creating an environment where kids can be—although they want to be sort of what Dick was talking about—making that choice to really be their best. And really giving them an opportunity to make a choice. If that is not what they want, fine; we will still be friends, we will just not spend a lot of time together. But it was about creating an environment where kids could make a choice and coaches could make a choice: this is where I really want to do it, and I really want to go for it.
[Warner]: What do you wish you knew then, Coach Montrella?
[Montrella]: As much as I hate to admit it, I probably would not change anything. Because everything is a lesson; everything is new, everything is different, you learn to adapt. And if you do not adapt, then you probably should not stay in coaching.
But if I were going to find one thing… I cannot do it with one, I can give you about four. And I can get away with this now—I can actually say this and get away it. I would never work with another coach again unless they had been an athlete at a high level. I would never work with… or an athletic director—or an athletic director. I would never work for an athletic director or coach again who—now this is going to really get me in trouble—who was not married, who did not have children already out of college. And… that would probably do it—that would probably do it.
Having been an athlete… hell, I know what I left out: having been a coach—at a major Division I level, married with children out of high school and in a perfect world, which we don’t have—I wish everybody on the parent board of directors was exactly the same way: no 10&Under parents are on the board directors, no 11+12 parents are on the board of directors, preferably no 13+14s. The best ones you can have are the ones that I just mentioned. So it would relate to athletic directors, it would relate to board of directors, and it would relate to, for me, working with another coach—because there is no way I ever want to be a head coach again.
[Block]: So, I am going to take Chuck’s role for a second here. So synthesizing what you just said, it is: pick your boss. (That’s right.) And I do not think everybody in the room realizes that they do get to pick their boss, in one way or another. Whether it is owning their own team; if they are in a club situation gradually getting the right people to run for those board situations; becoming not just the head coach but the CEO so you can change the bylaws—that sort of thing. But everybody in this room can, and should, pick their own boss.
[Montrella]: That is excellent—absolutely excellent. When you are applying for a job, you are interviewing the head coach to find out if you want to work with them or not. The same thing with the board of directors. That became very evident to me, not only with the last three years I had at Ohio State with an interesting associate director of athletics, but when I travelled the country on this Master Coach consultant program and I realized how boards of directors worked in other locations. It was appalling to me; the bylaws were appalling to me.
And actually, now, I am on the foundation board of directors for the Mission Viejo Nadadores, and if you ever want to get a really good sense of excellent bylaws, talk to Bill Rose. Mission Viejo Nadadores beyond a doubt, and I have probably seen about 36 sets of bylaws for 501(c)(3) swimming programs: absolutely, the best written ever. There are probably a couple of people who do not think so, but the majority still do. And I think that is really important, and it relates back to: picking your job, picking your coach, picking your athletic director. Check the bylaws. That maybe something you can work really well with; it may be something you will not work really well with.
[Warner]: Coach Jochums you got the last word.
[Jochums]: You can learn from both good and bad; the key is: you learn from it. A mistake is only a mistake as long as you allow it to continue to be a mistake. You make them; every human being does. But every mistake is an opportunity to correct it and make a positive out of it. Just be positive; find a way to be positive. Do not cheat your kids. Do not cheat your kids: become the best you can be. Have your kids become the best they can be, and they only do that if you are the best you can be. It is a beautiful way.
I look in the mirror each day, and the days I do not like me—and there are those days, as hard as it is for me to believe that—I correct me. Most days, I do not change me, because I like what I see. Most people do not like what they see; I like what I see, I can live with me. Can you live with yourself? Are you doing the job the way it is supposed to be done? Are you giving each child in your program the shot? It is that simple, folks. And it is a beautiful life if you do it properly. If you do it properly, it is a great way to make a living.
[Warner]: What goes around comes around, everybody, and knowledge does. And minutes do, and weeks do, and days do, and months, and years. And for these guys to come out here this weekend to share with you is bringing all that knowledge and wisdom back around. And I just would like to thank them and ask you to help me thank them for being here this week. [applause]
Thanks for coming everybody.
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