[introduction by Joel Shinofield]
Welcome. This afternoon we have a fantastic panel assembled here to talk a little bit more about how to get the most out of your athletes. With the three people we have assembled up front, we have got coaches that take athletes you may have never have heard of and make them: NCAA finalists, All Americans, Olympic Trials finalists, U.S. National Team members and even Olympians. They do incredible things with the people that they recruit. They recruit people that maybe others did not see the talent in. We are going to find out a little bit about how they do that and what their process is.
We have McGee Moody from the University of South Carolina. McGee has coached not only at South Carolina, but also at Navy and at William & Mary; so he has experienced in a variety of different programs.
Terry Ganley has no experience in any other program [laughter], but she has exceptional experience in the program that she is in. Terry was the University of Minnesota’s first female All American—about 10 years ago, and she has been coaching at Minnesota for the last 9 years, since she graduated. [Note: These comments are meant as a joke, as Ganley has been a coach at Minnesota for over 30 years: 27 as an assistant and the last 8, as co-Head Coach of the Women’s team.] Anyway, I had the opportunity to work with Terry, and be a Terry and Jean’s [Freeman’s] volunteer assistant coach for four years—it is how I got started in college coaching, about 15 years ago. And it is truly amazing: when I was there coaching with them, Terry was a distance coach—she was responsible for all of the distance group. In the changes that have happened in the staff at Minnesota for the last several years, she has been the sprint coach; done a remarkable job there as well.
Next to Terry is Steve Bultman. Steve has coached in the club ranks, and currently, I believe, since 1999 at Texas A&M where he has produced a few athletes you may have heard of, now, but maybe did not know of beforehand. One of which is Breeja Larson; is on our US Olympic team. Steve has not only brought that program to prominence with his athletes performances, but also in the manner in which he conducts himself, which garners respect for our profession across the country.
So I would like to thank these three truly-gifted coaches for being here to speak with us today—thank you. We are going to start with having them each talk a little about their philosophy and how that plays a role in their athlete development. We are going to start with McGee.
[Moody]: I guess to start to, I guess, get the conversation going here, it is important for me to talk about actually what my coaching background was and how it helped to define a lot of the things that I do today. Because in each stop that I have had, both as an assistant and as a head coach, it has been a different environment and it has been a different group of athletes that we have had to work with.
My first coaching position was at East Carolina University starting in 1996. I was kind of put into a situation there where I was given a lot of responsibility as a first-year assistant coach, coming straight out of that exact program—I graduated from East Carolina. I was given a group and basically given the directive of: okay, go. And so I had to then start to, you know, call around, ask a lot of questions, things like that. But a lot of what started is the foundation of my coaching was done through trial-and-error in a lot of cases. I was there for four years, at East Carolina.
And then Bill Roberts (whose is back here in the third row), the head coach now at Navy, gave me a call and said you know, I’m actually going to take a head coaching job, the assistant’s position in the Navy is open. So I went up to the Naval Academy as the men’s assistant coach there. Which, if you have any familiarity with the military academies at all, that is an entirely different environment than anything that you can imagine coaching in. Really, if you have not been immersed in that environment, it is hard to describe. It will make you bend how you coach, flex how you coach; it will make you really rethink every aspect of training.
At that point, when my time at Navy was up, I was down at the College of William & Mary. That was my first head coaching position; I was there for three years. And, again, you go from one extreme with the military academy to the College of William & Mary which is very liberal. It is a liberal arts college and extremely academic. So it was definitely another change there.
Then from there, I went down to the University of South Carolina. South Carolina is a member of the Southeastern Conference [SEC]. And, obviously, swimming in the Southeastern Conference is an extremely, extremely quick conference. So I kind of covered the gamut through that.
But each one of these different stops I learned a few different things about athlete development. And going all the way back, I can think back to certain individuals that that I worked with at each stop. I go back to Navy. When you are recruiting at Navy, it is a very niche recruiting. You have to find a certain type of young man and young woman to come to an academy, and with that you are given a certain type of person to come-in and train. Now what you have to take into account at Navy is—and, Bill, you can back me up on this—they do not live a normal lifestyle. Their day is so unbelievably structured and so unbelievably pressured on all angles, that when you are training them you really have to kind of re-evaluate your ideas on rest, re-evaluate your ideas on high intensity training, and things like that.
I went to William & Mary and kind of had almost an opposite environment there. You had a lot more time to work with; you did not have to worry about them getting up at 5:00 a.m. and things like that. But you did have to worry about studying, academics, things like that. So it was a different thing.
Coming into South Carolina, and I guess this is where we can really start to focus on the development of the athletes. Where we are in the SEC—and Jeremy [Organ] is back in the back is with Vanderbilt—you are recruiting against Florida, you are recruiting against Georgia, you are recruiting against Auburn, in your own conference. And I guess what we really have to look at is from a South Carolina perspective, you know we have never been able to really go out and get that top-5 and top-10 athlete. And so what we have really had to focus on doing is going and finding that person that has the certain intangibles that we think is going to come-in rather quickly, and putting-up not only points on the board at SECs but also in to NCAAs. And so we really had to fine-tune and define what it is we are looking for in an athlete.
I do not know, Joel, how much you want us to go into this now—maybe we will just go off for questions. But I think you really have to refine what it is you are looking for, both physically and, in my mind almost more-so, mentally from a developmental athlete. Because I think a lot of times physical attributes are pretty easy to see; what is not that easy [to see] is what you are looking for, the mental side of that very swimmer. In my experience, the mental side is what has been able to kind of take that athlete through to that next level. Joel, I am not sure how much you want to go into that, but I guess we are going over here and talking a little bit more Terry.
[Ganley]: Okay, my name is Terry Ganley, as Joel said, and I have been at Minnesota for a little over 30 years. Even though it is the only place I have coached, I would say that the experience over those last 30 years has been as different as moving to probably four or five or six different programs just because of the evolvement of our program in the last 30+ years. I did swim at Minnesota, and, like McGee, as soon as I graduated, I started coaching. That was back in the late-70s, when women’s athletics was not anywhere near, obviously, what it is today.
I was in a combined position: I was a secretary for Gymnastics, Swimming & Diving, and an assistant coach. At that time, you know, it was great: I had a full-time job, I had benefits at the university. But obviously that job, in ’77, has evolved into something very different now. Jean [Freeman] and I coached together, the women’s program for 26 years. And brought that program from the beginnings that we were back in the ‘70s to winning back-to-back Big Ten team titles. We had a national champion in Gretchen Hegener, who was basically a high-school-only swimmer out of the state of Minnesota, not much long course experience at all; and ended-up winning the 100 Breaststroke at NCAAs, setting an America Record. So we definitely brought that program up together.
She retired in 2004, when I became the Interim Head Coach. Through the hiring process, Kelly Kremer and myself became co-head coaches. Now with another re-organization, we have combined our programs, so I think right, officially, my title is Head Women’s Coach, but that could change because I know with the development of our program now. Although I would say my experience up to this point has primarily been with women only, in the Summers, I have had the privilege of coaching a combined group with Dennis Dale. So working side-by-side with Dennis for over 25 years with an outstanding excellent coach, I have had the experience of him and his expertise, and watched how he has developed men. Although I was not personally involved, necessarily, with the coaching of the development of men, I certainly helped coached the men in the Summer. So I have had that experience.
So like Joel said, I have only been at one place, but I feel like I have been in a lot of different programs. Again, when Jean and I coached together, we kind of ran the program where the faster swimmers were in lanes 1 and 2, and you just went-down by how you could train. Whereas today, obviously, you know, we are very specific with our sprint group, middle-distance group, our distance group. So things that way have changed a lot.
And not to go again into too much detail, like McGee said, but I agree that for us, in our situation—with Jean and with Kelly, and even with Dennis on our men’s side—we have not traditionally been a program that is able to attract the blue-chip athletes. You know, the top-5, top-10 recruits in the country generally are not athletes that are looking to come to the University of Minnesota. So we have looked for what McGee has said: a fit. Physically, obviously, you have to have some talent to compete at this level, but, again, I think the fit is what is more important. You know: is the academics what they are looking for? Are they looking for the culture that we have established?
And I think the culture at Minnesota has always been one, from back in the days with Jean and certainly with Dennis on our men’s side, of people that want to come in, they want to achieve. We have been kind of nicknamed a blue-collar team: you come to our team, you are going to work hard. You know, you are going to be respected for what you do, and we have something to prove, maybe a little bit of chip on our shoulder. That people do not expect the Minnesotas, the cold-weather schools, to be at the level that we are hoping to be at.
[Bultman]: My background is a little bit different. I did quite a bit of club coaching starting out. Actually summer league, before that. So I have always been really involved with teaching, and I feel like that, and stroke technique and stroke drills, are really, really important.
So one of the things that I do quite a bit with our swimmers is we give them a lot of feedback. I am the kind of coach that is on the deck, and very, very involved with practice and watching things. And if they are… I am the kind of coach [that] if I see somebody doing something wrong, I cannot keep my mouth shut. I mean, I do not want to watch them do something sloppy and lazy or wrong or one hand touches, over and over; they are going to hear about it right away. So I am very, very involved as far as that goes.
Talking about stroke technique, that is something that I feel like I am pretty good at. It is something that we stress on a daily basis. We do drills every day, making sure they are doing things right. I have been fortunate enough to be around, and coach, world-class swimmers. And, you know, within the period of one week you can see a stroke change so that it is not world-class level, and so it is really, really important that you work on those things.
We also video tape and critique the video tape with the girls at least once a week, just so they can see it. You know the old expression a picture is worth a 1,000 words, I think is so true. Because you can tell them until you are blue in the face, but when they see that they are actually doing something wrong or they see that they need to do something correctly, it hits home in a big way and it helps them get a lot smarter about their technique.
[I am a ] Big believer in kicking. I think we have all had swimmers get injured; and they put in a great season of kicking and really work their kick, and they salvage their season. In some cases, do best times. You know, I am not a rocket scientist, but I can figure out that if it is going to help them, it is going to help the healthy ones. So we work the kicking, pay emphasis to you know a lot of different ways. But especially trying to get the underwater kick better.
We are an IM-based program: everybody does a little bit of all the strokes. There are certain times of the year that everybody will do some… you know, I think everything transfers back-and-forth—breaststroke kick does not transfer to anything other than breaststroke. But we do an pentathlon every year, where we do a 50 of each stroke and 100 IM, in early October. That is probably the only time that we will let some of the girls wear an A&M cap and be seen doing breaststroke [laughter], or doing a backstroke start. But I think it is fun, and some of them get excited because they broke 34 seconds in a 50 Breaststroke from a dive. So they get pretty fired up about that. But after that then, when the breaststrokers are doing breaststroke kick and some of the breaststroke drills, they get to work on their better strokes. But I think the upper body breaststroke—the sculling, the pulling—that is going to transfer and it helps. So we definitely do that.
To help them get better… I mean, I think they come in and they come in fairly motivated and want to get better, but we have to motivate them. I think part of getting them motivated is we have to be excited to help them get motivated; we have to be willing to work hard and do that. You have to show them that you think that they can get better; they have to believe that you believe in them. I think that makes it a little bit easier, as well.
Positive attitude and atmosphere in your practices are really, really important if you are going to help and have people improve. I think that is something that we definitely work on and talk about. I think it is important that they are one team: that they want each other to improve, that there is no jealousy, that they strive together. I think that is something that our girls do a very, very good job of doing that.
And it is important that you have a great support staff, probably starting with a great strength coach. Most Division I, top-level schools will have that, and so it is important that you work well with them. And then just the rest of your support staff, and who you have available with you because it is amazing…. You know, they are kind of behind the scenes at swim meets, but in a student’s everyday life, they are front-and-center, big time. They make a big difference; they can help you immensely, if you have the right people in place. We have been very blessed with that.
And then: getting-them-started goal meetings. We will start with that next week. It is not just: these are the times I want to get, or these are some of the splits I need to do, but: what do you need to do to get that? What can you do better? What are you looking for from the coaches to help you get better? To help motivate you? Things like that. Just getting to know them better, I think, helps us get to know them and to help them improve.
[Shinofield]: Could you all describe briefly how your method of recruiting contributes to finding those diamond-in-the-rough kids that you have developed. And maybe some samples of kids that you have seen that progression in and why you were interested in recruiting them in the first place?
[Moody]: Alright. Like I said as I was kind of finishing-up a few minutes ago, I think when we go out and we look in the recruiting process, you have got certain kids that you see times and you are like okay I’ve got to have that. You do not necessarily need to see them go swim a race; it has always been official because you know what kind of upside they have. But if you are going out and you are trying… you are in the process of identifying some developmental kids, or maybe you have got four or five athletes that are kind of in the same space, I think they are some certain things that we look for as a program. I actually have kind of pooled this from each place that we have had.
The first one I will go with is: you cannot coach height. Some of the success that Coach Roberts and I had up at Navy: I guess it was 2004, we had a relay, a men’s 200 freestyle relay; shortest guy on that relay was six-foot-six-inches tall. We had a 6’8”, two 6’7”s and a 6’6”.
[Bultman]: These were all guys in submarines, right?
[Moody]: Actually, one of them was, actually ended up going subs.
But you look at those guys, and before you ever step on a block, there was an intimidation factor there. Everyone around them looked like 10-year-olds. But you cannot coach height. If they have got any sort of decent feel for the water—if they can hang-on to the water at all—you can you know more than likely not mess that guy up. So you cannot coach height: that was the first thing, physically, that I think we used to look for.
And then to me, when you have a recruit that comes in and says hey, you know I’ve never really lifted before, to me that is a huge positive. Lifting for me is a big, big part of the progression from club to college. It is the easiest way for us to make an athlete quicker. Drills are obviously the most… that is one of the most effective ways, but let’s be honest: drills take a lot of time. To make even the slightest stroke change in an athlete, the repetition that has to take place over time is over and over and over. One of the quickest ways you can make an athlete faster is to get them in the weight room and teach him the right way. At South Carolina, I put such an emphasis on this, that… and I identified as a problem.
You heard Dave Durden talking earlier today about weaknesses in your program. A few years back I identified our strength program as a weakness. And I do not know how many of you guys are like this, but I am going to kind of give you our background. Our strength coaches, 90% of the time, were guys that were graduate assistants that all they wanted to do was work in Football. They could make everyone of our guys look like linebackers in no time, but that did not do us any good and we were not really getting any stronger.
So I went to my athlete director, Ray Turner, and I said, “Ray, this is not working.” I said, “These guys are leaving; the next guy wants to reinvent the wheel. None of them know what they’re doing; they’re not making me any faster. I want to go and I want to hire a strength coach that has a Swimming background. I want somebody that can motivate them and do something that’s going to make them stronger in a Swimming-applicable way.”
So I went and hired a guy named Josh Morgan. Josh, he worked at Arkansas. He used to work down at Bolles School with Jeff Popell—when he was down there. And, actually, that was where he got kind of got his start with Swimming. Ironically, he has a background with Football. But he came-in and started working with the swimmers at Bolles—Jeff asked him to. He ended up going to Arkansas with Jeff when he went up there. We brought him over.
And he does nothing but Swimming. He is on my staff; he sits down side-by-side with everyone of us when we are creating season plans. And if there is one thing I am 100%-sure of is that our swim coaches and our strength coaches are on the same page, 100% of the time. All the way down to if he looks at workout, that maybe we had written-up for the morning, and I have got a 2,500-yard kick set in there and he goes woah, man, look we were going to go five sets of heavy squat today; one of us has got to give, or they will be useless the rest of the week.
Having a strength coach that has the knowledge of what these athletes need to be faster is ideal. So if I have a recruit that comes in and says I don’t really have a lifting background, to me that is a big positive because I have got a strength coach that is going to make them a lot stronger, really quickly.
The next thing is: technically sound. The example I will use there is Michael Flach. He was one of our guys at South Carolina who as a senior in high school, you know, was not highly recruited. But we went and watched him swim, and he was one of those guys… I am not going to go into the whole story—there is a great story about Michael to tell in a little bit. But we went and saw Mike swim; went and saw him practice, and went and saw him swim. He swam up at Fish with Norman Wright and Ray Benecki.
Went and saw him swim, and at that point, right there, it was like okay that guy, he has got the technique to be the-the 1:42 200 flyer, he has got the technique to be the 4:15 500 guy; we have got to make sure we go get him. And, honestly, we approached him a lot more than a lot of other college teams did, just based on that fact.
But when you take that… I want to go back to recruiting. The one thing I will say, out of everybody I have talked to—the sprinters; Katie Radloff, who was at William & Mary, who was somebody that kind of blew-up when she got there; Michael Flach, all these guys—the one thing, from not so much a physical perspective but, from a mental side was they all knew how to commit to a process—I do not know if that make sense.
But we would sit down with them and talk to them about a goal. And they may say… well, Michael, for instance, may say I want to go to Olympic Trials, and we would discuss what that actually looked like. To me the folks that are the easiest to develop, the ones that shoot-up the quickest, are not necessarily the ones that just go I want to win an Olympic gold medal. That is great; so do I—it is not going to happen. But the ones that sit there, and go I’m here, I want to be here, and I’m willing to commit to this part, because it is really easy for somebody to say. You can sit down and you can talk, and you can kind of see in an athlete where their commitment level is with that. To me that has always been the biggest thing, is that ability to commit to the process.
[Ganley]: I think at Minnesota, you know, like McGee said, there are certain times out there where you will get inquiries from recruits where you know yeah, of course, that would be a great time on our team. But you have to, I think, get out to the meets. You look at… you know I do not know how you put it into words, but you just see an athlete that you think has that feel; they just have that… what you want in an athlete.
For us a lot of times it is relationships with club coaches; you know, we will get a call from a club coach. Again, not just the physical attributes of an athlete. I think it is club coaches knowing us, knowing our program, knowing our philosophy; and they will say…. I know that happened to us with Becca Weiland, who is a senior on our team right now. She was swimming up in Stevens Point, Wisconsin; basically a Y[MCA] swimmer. Well, not just a Y swimmer, but that was pretty much her experience, was at the Y level. Came-in as a 55/56 100 butterfly, and now she holds our varsity record at a 51. But, again, she is—like he said—somebody who came-in, bought into the process. We are friends with coach up in that area, who just gave us a call; we drove up there, and she became part of our program.
Another one would be Jenny Shaughnessy. She graduated, I think now, five years ago. She was a club swimmer, small-town southern Minnesota; but when you watched her swim, it was like wow she’s got it, you know. That took a lot of recruiting on, basically, Kelly’s part—he did most of that recruiting. Her dad is one of the top pediatric surgeons at Mayo Clinic in Rochester; her path was medical school and she was going to go Division III, if he had anything to say about it. But just educating them with where she was at with her physical ability; and then just encouraging him to do his research on what an undergraduate education at Minnesota, what doors that could open for her for medical school. Did that, you know.
Jenny came-in; pretty limited training background. But by her senior year, was the Big Ten Swimmer of the Year, she was a finalist at NCAAs in the 400 IM, she still holds our school record in the 200 freestyle—1:43 200 freestyler. So she definitely was someone that was a Division I caliber; and it was just by watching her—you know, just that wow when you see somebody.
And I think at Minnesota that is what we do. You know, the top-8 at Nationals, sure, everybody out there is recruiting those top-8. But I think when you are a program like us, you have got to be there in prelims and you have got to watch and just see. And then connect with club coaches, start the conversation. Do you think that athlete would be a good fit us? You know. Do you think she or he would be interested in us? I think is the way we look for talents.
And again, in the State of Minnesota high school Swimming is really big. We definitely go to high school dual meets and we watch all those kids interact with their teammates. That is, I think, a huge indicator that they are going to be successful in our program.
We had another young woman a few years back, she is now an assistant at Pitt: Stacy Busack. Again very limited background; she was a three-sport athlete in high school. I remember the summer-before she was a freshman, Kelly went out and watched her at a club meets and he called me and said we made a mistake on that one.
Well, Stacy ended-up Big Ten champion; she was on our 800 Free Relay her senior year. She did not even have a third event when she came in as a freshman. She was a 50 and 10 freestyler; we had to figure out something for her on Day 2, taught her a backstroke start. That freshman year at Big Tens, she tied for 16th in the 100 Back. Well she happened to tie with a woman from, obviously, another Big Ten school who was not at all happy with the fact that she was tied for 16th. I went down and told Stacy in the warm-down pool; she was Oh! Can I swim it now? Long story short, by her senior year, she developed to the point… she was probably in 1:57 200 freestyler coming-in; she was on her 800 free relay and split a 1:43 her senior year, when our of 800 Free Relay was top-8 at NCAAs.
So again, it is progression. You know, she was nowhere-near even competing in a 200 her freshman year. But over the course of four years, she definitely developed into a very good 200 freestyler.
[Bultman]: Yeah, a big part of it is trying to get to know your recruits and get to know them better. See what their thinking is, see what their goals are. You know, do they still enjoy the sport? Do they have high goals for themselves? Are they willing to work hard to get better?
And then talk to their club coaches, talk to their high school coaches; find out about them, because who knows them better than they do? I mean, that is the thing. I coached club for a long time, and there were a lot of college coaches that would not call me and ask me about the swimmers. And you know most of them were pretty good, but there was a couple of them that I would be like wow you know; okay, good luck. I definitely call and talk to the coaches and try and find out as much as I can about them.
And like McGee was saying, if we hear somebody really had not done any weights before, that is a plus. Or some of them have not done doubles or just started later on and stuff like that. I mean that is something that you can add to what they have been doing, which can only help them continue to get better. And like Terry was saying, you get relationships with club coaches and they will contact you when they have somebody that they think can come in and really develop. Or will let you know about somebody that is maybe just starting and coming along, you know.
Definitely look at improvement and see who is improving—that is something we will definitely look at. Do they fit in with your team? When you bring them in on a visit, do they fit in; I think that is something that is really, really important as well.
You know Breeja Larson… I mean we had just had a couple of pretty-good breaststrokers: Alia Atkinson had just won NCAAs in 200 Breast, but she was graduating, and so was our other breaststroker. So that year, we were like: we need to find a breaststroker and pretty quick here. We had brought a couple of girls in, in the Fall, and unfortunately missed-out on them. But, you know, we were talking with Breeja.
She was somebody that had lived in Arizona, done a bunch of different sports when she was young, but swam—kind of summer league and then high school her freshman year. And then the family moved-up to Boise, Idaho her sophomore year, and she was not really happy with that and so sophomore year she did not swim at all. And then junior year, she started back swimming. When she was really little, she really wanted to be a gymnast—wanted to be an Olympic gymnast. Well her dad: Breeja, you’re going to be a little bit too big to be an Olympic gymnast. And so she started trying some different things, and realized that probably Swimming was going to be what she wanted to do if she was going to get a college education. So swam her junior year, and I guess she was maybe 1:07 or 1:08. Then convinced her parents to let her move-back and live with her aunt and uncle in Mesa so she could swim year-round with a club team and high school. And she did.
Her club coach had contacted Jay Holmes about a particular boy that he wanted him to recruit and let me know about her. So we started talking and got a pretty good relationship going. She came out; and pretty impressive as far as the size wise and everything. And so we kind of took a chance just because we needed a breaststroker. She was… got down to 1:02.7 her senior year, which was a pretty good improvement. 24-low in her 50, and never-hardly swam the 200—I think she was 2:25 yards.
Brought her in. Like I said, she had been swimming off-and-on for a while, but she was really raw. You have just got to take the time. You know, she was in the slower lane, the easy intervals, the very-slow kicking lane—especially other than breaststroke. Just have got to work on starts and turns and all that sort of stuff, and just develop them, you know.
To her credit, it was not… I did not have to send her over into Lane 1 or Lane 2—like Dave [Krotiak] was doing with Kevin Cordes. I mean she just was like: I need better distance per stroke, okay I’ll do that. But she was pretty fearless as far as who she raced against, because you know being from Arizona with Amanda Beard being there. I remember Nationals the first time right before she was coming to school. Amanda was making another comeback, and she was swimming prelims right next to Amanda and she was excited to do it. She raced her like crazy; probably took 28 strokes the first 50 and was right there with her. Amanda said see you later on in the second 50. But you know, we talked about that; she bought-in and just kind of did that.
Some people ask us: do you have time standards for walk-ons? And we have an approximation about what we are looking at. Part of it depends on the year and our numbers, and stuff like that. But we always make exceptions.
We had a girl from our area that swam with Aggie Swim Club. We do… you know the A&M coaches… we swim Aggie Swim Club in the summer and we help-out with them at different times—do clinics for them or talk, hand-out awards at their awards banquet. And so I had worked with Maria off-and-on at some different meets in summertime.
I knew she was coming to A&M. She was not sure if she wanted to continue swimming. We talked to her and the fact that I had worked with her…. She had really quick reflexes and she could get out and but then she would not finish her races very well. She was from Brenham, which is home of Bluebell ice cream—which is really good. She was not good enough for the team, time wise; but I just kind of saw something. And I told her, I said….
Usually what we will do during the summer is, the better Aggie Swim Club kids, if they can handle our practices and if they have done a good job as far as getting to practice regular, you know we will let them come in and train with us in the summertime. So I talked to her and said: you know, why don’t you swim with us the Summer before your freshman year, and if you can handle practices, we’ll give you a spot on the team. She was 24-low in the 50, 53.9 in the 100 Free, and like 1:03 in the 100 back. She handled the Summer; she was not quite as fast as she… you know, a little bit behind on the kicking and way-behind on the butterfly. But other than that, she did a good job; so we gave her a spot.
And she went from like 24-low to 22.7 her first year. Part of it was she got in the weight room. We are big believers in pull-ups and you know I think she tested in the beginning of the year and maybe got 2 or 3. By the end of her freshman year, she was doing 17; and even her club coaches were kind of coming-up to her and going: wow, you’ve got muscles now, all of a sudden. And so she ended-up going 22.1 and 48-mid and 55-flat in the back. Just really, really nice improvement. And part of that is just knowing her from before.
The other thing, like Terry said, we go to the different… Texas has got Senior Circuit meets in the Summer, and we go to a lot of those. Just are around, and just watch the different swimmers and pay attention. And you know kind of see who you want to be looking at and recruiting later on.
Cammile Adams, you know we saw her way-back-when. She has a sister that swam, twin sister, that we did not even know that she even existed; she just… she was not anywhere near on Cammile’s level. But like her junior year, she was starting to show a little bit of signs of improvement, and then unfortunately she was in a wreck and broke her wrist and that set her back. But she kind of decided they wanted to go to school together, and so we gave her a spot on the team.
You know, one of the things that we do in the Fall is we test the girls, their iron levels. And Ashley’s iron level was really, really low. She had kind of been walking around lethargic. We put her on some extra iron and her mom was like thank you for giving me my daughter back. I mean, all of a sudden, she just had a whole lot more energy and everything.
She just worked hard, plugged away. Swam different… I mean she was a distance freestyler—which Cammile can do really well. Was a pretty good 400 IMer, but not really a flyer. Just kind of kept getting better and better. And then, I think in one of our dual meets like in January or beginning of February, all of a sudden the 1000, she makes National cuts. And everybody is like wow, her first National cut. And then at Sectionals that Summer or that Spring, she made probably three more Nationals cuts. Then the next year, she qualified for NCAAs and was top-16 at NCAAs. Then went to Olympic Trials. And then after Olympic Trials decided she was done, because she had kind of helped accomplish what she wanted to accomplish and that was just kind of be around Cammile for a while. Plus she was having some stomach issues. But then she ended-up coming back and she is one of our managers now.
But just a few of the girls. And just by paying attention; it is really important that you do that.
[Shinofield]: You all talked about fit. Terry, you mentioned Jenny and Stacy, and your Big Ten championship team both in ’99/2000, as well as the last three years, have been really dominated by Minnesota and Wisconsin kids; kind of homegrown talent. Even with blue-chip Minnesota kids leaving to go to other places. How does that affect team chemistry and what do you do to maximize that group of homegrown kids?
[Ganley]: I think just for us the pride factor. I think—and I am sure it is the same in Texas and South Carolina—that you grow up in the state, and just being behind the blocks with an M on your cap just is a little extra special. I do not know what we have done necessarily, but I can go back historically. Our sprint relays, even back in the ‘80s when we were winning the sprint relays pretty consistently at the Big Ten championship level, so many of those relays, all four members were Minnesota athletes. I think it is just that extra sense of pride.
I think when you get an athlete, especially some of the blue-chip athletes—well blue-chip on our level—who have the opportunity to go maybe to a warmer climate, to what they conceive as a better opportunity and they choose to stay home and represent their home state, I just think that says a lot about them as a person. Their values; what they are looking for, not only in Swimming and athletics but in life. I think it is a loyalty. Some of it can be fostered by the club coaches, by their parents, obviously. I guess I do not know exactly.
But I do think in the recruiting process, you know talking to them, that when you are on our team at the University of Minnesota, we want you to succeed; just like we would an athlete from you know California or Florida. When you are here at the University of Minnesota, you are going to have your parents, your club coaches, the state, so many people watching you and supporting you. At the same time, all those people are going to be watching us. So we are going to make sure that you succeed athletically, academically and socially, because it is that much more important for us and the success of our program that we have those kids succeed. So I think they just feel a lot of support, a lot of chemistry; and I think just a lot of pride.
[Shinofield]: Do you think that that cohesive group then helps you recruit some of those out-of-state kids, the ones you have from New Jersey, Massachusetts, places like that, that have been really successful?
[Ganley]: Definitely. And like Steve said, when I am at the pool at 5:45 a.m., I want them to believe there is nowhere else on Earth I would rather be. It is a fun environment, and at 5:45, if I walk-in half-awake, like dreading that I am at the pool, it is not going to be a fun experience for anybody, you know. So from 5:45 to 7:15, hopefully they all believe that there is nowhere else I would rather be.
And that, you know, transfers over to them, to their attitude, to their work ethic; everything is a lot more fun. And, yeah, I think bringing recruits into a group that enjoys working hard is kind of what our culture is. And I think the Minnesota kids, that is what they are used to.
[Shinofield]: Steve, you mentioned kicking earlier. If you are looking at an athlete who possibly does not have a strong swimming background, or is maybe a multi-sport athlete, how much does that… you know their ability to kick, their flexibility or even obvious leg strength, how much does that play a role in your thoughts on recruiting that athlete?
[Bultman]: I do not worry too much about that, because I think you can teach anybody to kick. But the big part of kicking is the individual kid and they have to decide. You know, you can get a little-bit-better ankle flexibility; but part of it is kicking is will-power, because the legs are going to hurt. It is just a matter of them deciding.
I can remember we had one girl that was one of our better 200 flyers—she was like 2:01/2:02—but she was one of our worst kickers. And you try and get across the importance of kicking in fly and obviously backstroke—really all the strokes. And then finally one Summer, she just decided I’m going to get better kicking, and she just pushed herself and got better. She could handle most of the top intervals after that, and then all of a sudden she goes 1:58 200 fly the next season. You know, you can kind of see that
Part of that is just convincing them of the importance of kicking, and then just showing them that what you do in practice has a big influence on how you are going to swim in meets. When swimmers take their training to the next level, the times are going to follow: it is just a matter of when.
[Shinofield]: Kind of along that same vein, what do you think are the critical elements of training for a late-developing athlete? How do you periodize that or set a progression for those athletes?
[Bultman]: Well, you have got to be careful with them; I mean you cannot just throw them in with everybody else and expect that they are going to do that. Part of it is, as coaches… like the ones that have been swimming for a long time, and they understand the coaching, the swimming talk lingo and all that; some of those new ones, they are like what? what do you mean? You know. And so you have to take the time to explain it, and, you kind of have to treat them a little bit with kid gloves. Be careful with them, and then just kind of move them up appropriately. Get them through the first year, and then after that you can kind of see the next season. Then maybe you can start increasing it a little bit; or if they start asking for more, then okay you can do that.
You can see the talent in somebody, but you cannot see what is in their heart or in their head. You know, how much they want it, and how hard they are actually working. And so again, with the individual meetings that we do, you can learn some things there; but then just kind of talking to them and kind of seeing. Just have got to make it very gradual that way.
[Shinofield]: McGee, you have been in two very different LSCs [Local Swimming Committees], as far as volume of swimmers. When you were in Virginia, at William & Mary, one of the largest LSCs in the country, but no scholarships and a lot of other options; now you are at South Carolina, a very, very small LSC, not a lot of high schools swimming. How does that change your recruiting, and what are you doing in South Carolina, since it is a small Swimming population, to sort of maximize your reach recruiting-wise?
[Moody]: I think it is similar to what Terry was talking about: you spend time with the club coaches and you talk to them, in the area. Those coaches are working really hard, with the small number of athletes that they have; working really-hard to produce the best athletes in the state. And South Carolina Swimming has gotten a lot better; it is still behind some of the other states, but they are making marked improvements. You know, 10-15 years ago, the state would put-out one, two, maybe three, Division I athletes every few years; and now you have got a crowd coming out, and the next group coming up is really-good out of South Carolina.
The thing is you do have to lean a lot on the club coaches and things like that. But you know, also at the same token—I think these guys are probably the same—while we do put a lot of emphasis on our home states, I am not going to turn any recruiter away that is going to help our program. If they are from Virginia, and I am at South Carolina and think they are going to be that developmental athlete that we are looking for, that is who we are going to go after.
But regardless of where you are, I think you have to really know the athlete that you are getting. And you do that by getting as many opportunities to see them swim as you can, as many opportunities as you can get to see practices, and meet the family, and things like that. That is kind of how we have done it.
[Shinofield]: So at William & Mary with Katie, what did you learn from her success? Did she kind of change the way that you recruit, or coach? Or what did you see during that progression?
[Moody]: I will be honest with you, at that point… when you at a mid-major university, you rely a lot on what you see on paper. You know, there are SEC schools that their recruiting budget is twice what my operating budget was at William & Mary. So what I learnt real quickly from Katie was exactly that: that sometimes the numbers you see in results do not exactly tell the story. And you do have to get in-front of that young lady or that young man and watch them race, because you are going to see sides of them….
You know, Katie was… I think she was 51.5 coming out of high school, and she was a moderately-recruited student-athlete. Within four years, I believe she finished up at 48.5 or 48.6 in the 100, had really good time drops. But you look at that 51.5, and to be honest, we did not pick Katie up until halfway through the year. She was a late commitment; she was not getting a lot of interest.
If I picked-up anything from coaching Katie, from her senior year through her freshman year, it was that you cannot just look at the number on the page. You have got to be able to get out there and you have got to see the athlete race, because there are things you are going to see that do not translate on that paper.
[Shinofield]: We will open up to questions now.
[audience member]: You know, it is very interesting that… I like the attitude of you guys. But I have been around now, this is my 47th year of coaching, and I have talked to two college coaches in 47 years about athletes. And I have had athletes go on to get full scholarships, half scholarships, three-quarter scholarships. And the coach, I could not tell you who the guy was or who the woman was, if they came in here and put a gun to my head and said point ‘em out. They never called, they never said anything to me about any of my athletes.
I had a girl get a scholarships to a big western college—full ride—about eight years ago, and if he had called me, I would have told him she retired two years ago. She did 57 for the 100 Backstroke in high school, and never broke 59 in four years of college. But he kept her, four years on. But it is the strangest thing.
This year, I had a kid recruited by Michigan, and Josh called me up and we talked; after the kid … the kid committed fairly early, he did it like at the end of November. He called me up and he talked to me the first time for about two hours, the second time for about an hour-and-a-half, the third time for half a minute. We went to a couple of Grand Prix and Nationals, and he talked to me there. But I was never so happy to see a college coach recruiting one of my kids, he talked to me about the kid.
[Moody]: I wish I could say that every kid on our team, I have talked to their coach over and over again; but it is something that I have had to actively try to get better at just—I mean just being transparent as a coach. Sometimes I have had to learn the hard way, and every time it happens, I swear it is never going to happen again. But it is definitely… I think sometimes it happens by accident, sometimes things get busy or whatever. But yeah. To me you can see a marked difference in the athletes that we have been able to communicate and get feedback on.
[audience member]: Terry, I was interested in your comment about the father who had a preconceived idea about his daughter and the school. Could you talk about the strategies that you use in talking with parents about the value that they may correctly or incorrectly ascribed to the undergraduate degree in terms of process of full development of the kid as a professional down the road.
[Ganley]: I think our… what we do is kind of educate the parents and the student-athlete—obviously, our communication, we try to be with the student. I think on the women’s side, what I have seen the biggest difference in the past 15 years, is we are dealing more and more and more with fathers. I would say 20 years ago that was the not the case; now it seems like the dads are definitely in-control a lot of what their daughters are doing.
And we just tell them—you know, like every college coach is going to tell you—what they want to hear, and we put it on them to do their research. I know that is what we did with Dr. Shaughnessy. You know, you’re obviously a very bright doctor, do your own research on the undergrad education at Minnesota and it’ll speak for itself. I mean obviously at our school we have an excellent undergrad science programs for… I mean we have, right now, we have two women in medical school, one in dental school; Jenny ended up, she is a physical therapist.
So I mean, the facts are there, and I think we put it more on-them to do their research. It is so easy now, just go online, see what you find yourself. Again we will give them the basics, but there is a difference between us telling them that and them reading out and finding it out for themselves. Does that answer your question?
[audience]: Yeah. I think it is an on-going frustration because the youngster may be interested in your school, but the parent wants him to go to your school; because your school looks better on paper or one of the people that works with parents says oh you’ve got to go over here, because the kid will get… because if he’s got a diploma that says he went to ABC it’s going to be better for him than one from XYZ. It seems like you are recruiting both the parents and the kids in some sense; to a large extent.
[Ganley]: Definitely. And I think it is different with different situations. But again I think in so many cases just educating them that that undergraduate degree, I mean for a lot of these kids, graduate school is what they are going to have to do, you know. And we believe the track record at Minnesota is going to give you undergraduate degree that is going to open any door you want for graduate school. And again, I think we have got the facts to back that up. We can give that to them, but again we just keep putting it back on them to do their research. You know, look at our alums, look where they are, look what they have done; obviously, they cannot talk to them, but we can give them the facts that way.
[Bultman]: It is pretty amazing how some of the recruits, they will do a lot of research on the different schools and the teams, and there are some that do not—nothing. I mean, some will… you know we will call, do you have any questions, and some of them will… yes, get out and they will have a list and it is great—I mean, I love it when they do that. But then there are others, it is like no, I don’t really have any now. I am sitting there thinking: wow this is only going to be the biggest decision of your young life so far, and you have no questions? Okay….
The other thing is with the parents, especially if this is the first child and if the parents did not swim, you know this recruiting is really new to them. And I don’t understand, and so you do have to do a lot of explanation and a lot of explaining. That is part of it; you know, we understand that.
But definitely research, with the internet it is definitely a lot easier now to get a lot of facts and to help make a much better-informed question or decision. And then come up with some good questions.
[Ganley]: I think too for us, like I said, we have just had so many alums that have gotten jobs in their profession, that I think it is easier that way when you can give that to them. You know, with Medtronic being in Minneapolis-St. Paul area, right now I think we have four recent graduates that are all biomedical engineers at Medtronic. And biomedical engineering seems to be the flavor-of-the-month right now: all these kids are interested in that. So we have that to back-it-up. Like I said, we have got four or five recent female grads in the medical schools on our campus, so that helps.
[audience member]: What do you guys think is going to happen to your programs if they start paying athletes that bring money—so football, basketball?
[Moody]: How much time do we have?
[Bultman]: I mean, it is something I am not going to worry about until it happens, because who knows, you know. So you just wait and see what happens. Hopefully it does not.
[Moody]: I think as coaches, we are not real sure what is going to happen with that. You do not know what that dynamic looks like; I have a worst-case scenario in my head of what that may look like. Joel and I have spoken a whole lot about this. You know, it sounds great to a student-athlete, because you stand in front of a group of student-athlete advisory council members and you have people that go now: How many of you would like to get paid? And they all go: Ooh! And then they go back and go well, the athletes all want this. Well, of course they want this. What they do not give them is the fine print, that they may or may not see.
For me, personally, what I try to do is stay up-to-speed as much as possible on all the information that is coming out. But I agree: there is not much we can do until we see how far-reaching this goes. I think it starts with, you know, an athlete says I go to bed hungry; which, okay…. I do not know about that. But if he says I go to bed hungry, and then three weeks later we are all able to feed them whenever we feel like it. I think it can start to be a fairly slippery slope that we go down. But I think that is a different talk for a different day.
[Shinofield]: I will say that while Steve says he is not going to worry about, these programs are in fairly-good situations financially, and all three for different reasons. Minnesota’s scholarships are endowed for the most part on the women’s side, and there is enough on the men’s side; there is a different funding source in Texas for the two major university for their athletics, which you know obviously runs-out at some point but not probably for the foreseeable future; South Carolina has the SEC Network which is providing additional funds, which, obviously the Big XII Network and the Big Ten network do as well.
[Bultman]: Hey, hey: we are SEC as well now, come on—geez, man.
[Shinofield]: That is right.
[Moody]: I have not forgotten that he is SEC.
[Shinofield]: So I think those things, right now, for these programs are sort of bulwarks against that. But I think in the near-future we have got some significant obstacles to college athletics, and Olympic sports in college athletics, because of the increased cost.
The food part that McGee mentioned is a million-dollar-plus expense for a school to take-on. There was an article yesterday about USC adding a million dollars to pay to provide additional meals, and Wisconsin is looking at about $1.2 million increase—I think what they are going to do is free breakfast for all their athletes, is that alright? I mean everybody is going to face increased cost. If you go to a total-cost-of-attendance package, above the normal tender that is offered now, you are looking at a $3,000-$10,000 increase, depending on the school; which is a $1.2-$1.8 million hit for a school, if they only do the Football and Basketball players plus an equivalent number of female athletes.
So these increased costs are going to play a role in college Swimming, in Olympic sports in general. And while I believe, somewhat, what Steve said—he is not worried about it—I do think that there are preparation for those things on a lot of programs. If you have not yet, in your program, started making preparations for that, and creating value in your program, you are in trouble.
One thing that is neat about all three of these coaches, because of the way they recruit and the people that they have in their programs, they are already creating value for their institutions. They have got athletes who are highly successful. Terry talked about the ones that are at Medtronic or biomedical engineers, putting people on National Teams; these are all things that create value to keep you around. When it becomes a decision about: we need to pay everybody or we need pay for meals for everybody, should we find a way to raise money for that or should we just mortgage the swim team and use that money to pay for that food?
So creating value in your program is part of how you recruit, and part of how you say, Okay, in my situation, I might not get the top-10 kid, well I guess we’ll just stink. No, you go out and find a way to do it. I think that that is part of what you are hearing here: they are being successful by finding a different way than what you would say is I just go out and grab a really good kid, they will swim really fast, be really good.
Just a small segue. There are more questions for these three?
[audience member]: Yeah, a swimming question, a little bit more. Back in the late 60s, early 70s—when I started coaching—the 500 was consider a distance event. I would like to know whether you consider it a distance event anymore, or a middle-distance, or is it an extended sprint? Versus the 1000/1500.
[Bultman]: I would say it is middle distance now.
[audience]: You train it as middle distance now?
[Ganley]: In our program, too, we have a middle-distance group that we define as people who are pretty-much primary 200 swimmers, go up to the 400 or the 500, and you know some of them come down to the 100, and the lucky ones down to the 50. And our distance group is primarily the 1000/mile swimmers.
[Moody]: We do the same. I think one of the biggest things you see now, is you watch some of these guys, you go to NCAAs and you watch the men and women that swim in that top-8, they are carrying a kick behind them like it is 100. And I am the same way: I consider it a middle-distance event and we train it as a middle distance event. But I think that transition, it is definitely swam a lot different than it was a few years ago.
[audience member]: With respect to the kick, especially the breaststroke kick, when we see our kids kick breaststroke kick, they do not have red faces like the kids kicking flutter kick and dolphin kick. Is there something that we can do to make that kick more… the kicking part of that more dynamic?
[Moody]: Make it vertical; stick them straight up and down. I agree with you 100%. I see a lot of my flutter kickers and my dolphin kickers default to breaststroke when they start to get tired. Because that is their… they are not very good breaststroke kickers, but that is what they go to. One thing we will do a lot is to stick them straight up and down, and give them a certain number of kicks to hit over a certain time period. And you saw, looking at the Kevin Cortes talk this morning, holding that body-line to keeping it straight, but also working-on some foot speed within that. We do the same thing. That will get their heart rate up a little bit.
[Bultman]: When they go to breaststroke, are they still making the interval that you had them on?
[Moody]: Ahh… sometimes.
[Bultman]: The other… I think you just have to challenge them, kick-wise. You know, periodically we will ask them to go on different… we will change the interval on them. I mean we will do… you know, some days it is moderate intervals and it is descending; some days it is fast intervals where it is, you know, almost wall-tag, somewhat. Sometimes we are going some easy-fast, and then you are doing some underwater. And I will have them do a pretty-good bit without a kickboard. too. With breaststrokers, there is either just streamline kicking underwater, which I think is real good, and have them work on distance per kick; or arms-back and make sure they breathe before each kick.
[audience members]: Have you ever done ankle weights on them for kick?
[Bultman]: I have not yet, no.
[audience]: McGee, you talked about the importance of kids that commit to the process. How do you go about assessing that?
[Moody]: Just through a lot of conversation, back and forth. To me, I put a lot of emphasis on the official visit. But I did not really go into detail about maybe what that looked like, so I will tell a story real quickly about Michael Flach.
Michael was a guy who out of high school was 4:30 in the 500, he was 1:49 in the 2 Fly, and he was 1:40 in the 2 Free. But he was that guy we got a chance to see him swim and I was like man, this kid’s going to get really fast, really quick. Went through the first year, got him immersed in the strength program. Started making little stroke changes in that first year, and then in the second year, went to a kind of a volume increase and really started to press the hard work in that second year. After his sophomore year, Michael was… he went 4:15 in the 500; he was 1:45, I think, in the 2 Fly; and then 1:34, I think, 2 Free—he made big improvements.
But where we saw the process commitment come-in was he sat down after NCAAs in a meeting with me and he goes, “Look, here’s the deal: I want to final at Olympic Trials in the 2 Fly.” And I said “Okay.” Exactly like I talked about: “It’s one thing to say it; let’s map-out what that looks like.”
And one thing I do not think we have talked about, really, is communication. In terms of: if you want them to commit to the process, first they really kind of have to know what that process looks like. You cannot really just say, Alright, well let’s do this.
But we sat down and we really painted a picture of what the next two years had to look like. In terms of… it even included an Olympic red-shirt with Michael. And it was even more specific with him in that the first semester I still wanted him taking classes, but second semester I did not want him taking classes. And we mapped it out, really, all the way down, as detailed as: okay, when we go to SECs, during this Olympic red shirt, you are going to be going down, Coach Troy, I talked with him…. And Michael went down and trained with Ryan [Lochte] and Conor Dwyer and those guys down there in Gainesville ,while we were gone. It was a very detailed plan over the next couple of years.
And Mike sat down, and I said, “Okay that’s what that looks like. If you’re willing to commit to this, then we’ll move forward. If not just, you know, be honest with yourself for a minute.” And he said: No, I’m in. Fast-forward two years, we go to Omaha, and Michael swims and takes off… we actually even made a last-minute decision out there to scratch him out of the 4 Free. You know a kid is committed to a process when you get to the biggest meet and at the last minute, you know, I just go, You know what? I don’t think we need to swim this. And he was probably going to go 3:47/3:48 in that event. Which was a little nerve racking, but I thought he was going to have a better chance in that 2 Fly. You know a kid is locked-on and committed to a process when you are at the Olympic Trials in Omaha in the Qwest Center, and he looks at you and goes, “Whatever you think.” And I was like, “Okay.”
So we scratched out of that, he swims the 2 Fly. He goes to prelims, goes 1:58 in the 2 Fly, and is 6th—we got a second swim. So then we go and he goes 1:58 again—he was 5th/6th, I think. And he comes up to me after that and he goes, You know, I can do this. This whole time, he had gone through this and he was so consumed by getting to that point, the thought of actually… what was happening, had not really hit him until then.
So he got-up and swam Finals, did not have his best swim, he got 6th or 7th—I do not even know what place he finished, honestly. But we went downstairs, and if you guys all remember, there was the little stairwell that goes down and there is the little red carpet that was back there. And you go back into the coaches and swimmers place, and he was standing there—it was just him. And I walked down, and he came up and he gave me a hug. And I said, “What happened?” He goes, “It doesn’t really matter.” He said, “You know, the next time we do this, coach, what’s going to be cool is we’re going to be hugging because I made the team.” And I was like; alright.
So to me, taking him from that… that Okay, I want to do this to laying out that very clear plan. I do not… I am not sure if that answers your question. But I think when we are looking, you have got to have that kid, you can almost see that desire in their eyes. When you are talking to them, you can almost know that that kid is serious about what they want to do.
And we have been relatively successful; I mean, you know, I have swung-and-missed with a couple of kids, I read them wrong. But I think in the process, the more conversations you have, you can find out where a kid’s heart is. You can find out what is important to them over the long-haul. And it was the same thing with Michael: you saw in his eyes when I… because it was not an easy plan that was laid-out ahead of him, and he, without hesitation, said, “Okay, I’m in.” And he did everything we asked him to, and it worked out. I could have used three or four places higher at Trials, but whatever.
[audience member]: So like if you can kind of straight-up ask a kid if they are committed to the process, obviously if they say yes, that is what you are looking for. What other questions do the three of you ask to kind of, you know, get a sense of what they are really thinking?
[Ganley]: For us, I think it is during the recruiting process. You know, you are talking to that kid once a week, over a period of months. Talking to the club coaches. I think just getting… I do not know if you exactly have to say the question Are you going to be committed to the process? I think it is getting to know that total person and getting a concept of who they are, what they are, you know, in all aspects of their life, I think for us.
And I know for us, in the recruiting process, you know, we tell them: if you are looking for a normal college experience, we are not the program and the school for you. There are programs around the country where you can probably be a normal college student—have a social life, do what you want every Friday and Saturday night—and still have a pretty good athletic experience. That is not what we are looking for, and it is not going to work at Minnesota. And just be upfront; not that is it right or wrong. I mean, there are plenty of different programs around the country that kids can, you know, do everything and like I say, end up with a pretty-good four-year athletic experience.
I think for us, it is just being honest in the recruiting process. You do not want to end-up with a student-athlete in your program for four years that is not committed to your values and your program because it is not good for either one of us. And, again, it is not a right-or-wrong decision; I think it is educating throughout the recruiting process both directions. And making that communication be honest and not threatening.
[Bultman]: Just getting to know them as much as you can, you know, like Terry said. I do not know if you can just do it on their official visit; although that helps, looking them eye-to-eye. But, you know, kids are going to… you know, especially if they want to go to your school, they are going to tell you what they think you want to hear. But you just have to just keep asking them different questions.
Then the other thing is, obviously they are around your swimmers on their visit and the swimmers are getting to know them. Well, Monday after a recruiting weekend, I am walking around to all the swimmers: What did you think of the recruits? Do you feel like they fit in? A lot of times it will be yes. But it is not always that; some of them will be like: nah, I don’t think they would. And you ask and try and find out why, and some of them have some pretty-good reasons and such.
It is just trying to get to know that recruit and talking to people that know them, you know, as much as you can to get as much information as you can, because it is important. I mean, team chemistry and attitude and atmosphere is huge. I mean, there have been girls in the past that—you know, especially when I first started coaching at A&M—we wanted their times in a big way, but it was just… that was not the kind of person we wanted and so we passed.
[Ganley]: I think, too, it is not rocket science; you know, it is not something that is going to be specific. Like McGee said, you know, you swing and you miss; I think every college coach has done that probably more than once in their recruiting cycle. But I think, too, when you are recruiting 17-year-olds, those kids can be very, very different from the kid that signs in November to the kid that shows up on your campus in September. And it can go either way.
I know Kelly and I had an experience, early on, where we had a prospect on campus—very elite-level swimmer—who had a very good time on her visit. And on Monday, the team just said there’s no way; she does not exhibit the behaviors that we were creating at that time. We were kind of starting out together, trying to change a culture, establish some values. We ended-up… unfortunately, on Monday night, she called and wanted to commit, and we withdrew our offer. Obviously the parents were not real happy. She ended-up at another school; actually ended-up her freshman year scoring a lot of points at NCAAs for another team.
We still talk about that; you know: did we make a wrong decision? What sign would we have given to our team, if we said: Yep, all that stuff we talk about, all that stuff we don’t want you guys doing socially, it’s okay because she’s really good. Could we have changed her? Would she have been a different kid ten months later on our campus? You know, I do not know what we would do if we had it to do over. But that was a tough decision we made.
And like I said, I believe a 17-year-old kid on their first college visit can make a mistake. You know, and ten months later, they come to your campus as an 18-year-old college freshman, they could be a completely different person. So, you know. We are dealing with kids, we are dealing with human nature; and like I say, we still talk about that one: what if? You know, what if we had taken that chance and educated our team that, you know, she can come here and maybe we can change that behavior. But as Steve said, there are a lot of times… if that is what they are doing on their visit, it is not what you want to bring socially to your team.
[Bultman]: What did the parents say when you told them?
[Ganley]: They were very disappointed in us… and you can imagine what they said. (In you all?) In us, yes; their daughter would never do anything that….
[Bultman]: Right. I have had one not recently, the same way. Oh, no, my daughter doesn’t… And then you hear stories later on, and you are like Yeah, yeah, she doesn’t do it. But then I have also… I was fortunate enough, luckily, to have one that like that, wanted to commit and she just says, “I am so sorry.” And he had her write a letter of apology; which I was just like wow that’s a pretty good dad doing that, you know.
[Shinofield]: If you could all just leave us at either with one piece of advice to help someone in their recruiting, or advice to a club coach whose got a kid who they think has the potential but maybe is not quite there yet on the number side of things and how you can kind of help them connect with the right program? Either one of those.
[Ganley]: Well, I think: club coaches call the college coaches. I mean, I know maybe you think that is not your job, but I think if you have got a kid that you really think has a chance, collegially, pick up the phone and call the college coach. I know a lot of people think it is our job to be contacting the club coaches—which, it is—but I think if we can all work together for the good of the kids. Ultimately, it is not about the success of a college program; I think we are all coaches, we are here for the good of student-athletes, of young people. And just to help them, give college coaches a call.
[Bultman]: Yeah. Email, call; get that particular recruit to email and you know, list: Hey, I’ve only been swimming for x number of years, or, I swam, but I did other sports, but here’s my improvement. And just, you know, let the coaches know; especially if it is somebody coming-up. Because you get recruits that are 16 or 17: are they are junior? Are they a senior? If you do not really know about them that much, it is good to hear that.
As far as college coaches… (no, I don’t want to tell you). I mean, you have just got to pay attention to what is swimming around out there.
[Moody]: I think the no-stone-unturned philosophy comes into play. But also, what I try to do is when you identify somebody that you think has that potential, you start thinking in terms of a plan: what does that young person’s plan look like? Whether it is a quad plan; whether you are two years out. Because I think if you are going after this recruit, and you talk to coaches, you talk to the parents, and you talk to the swimmer, having that idea of what the next four years of that person’s life is going to look like for them, in a relatively-detailed layout, is going to probably put you ahead of the game over a lot of other college coaches. I know that puts a lot of parents at ease, and it can also start a very, very good dialogue with the club coaches over why that might work and why it might not work. So that would be something, I would guess.
[audience member]: Are there any particular websites you go-to to look at to gather information on a recruit you are interested in?
[Moody]: For me, it is not necessarily the information. But what we use as far as a database goes, is that what you are talking about? I use collegeswimming.com’s database. I am kind of partial, because it works directly in with our recruiting software, and I can identify somebody I see there and click a button and all their information throws straight into our software. So I use collegeswimming.com.
[Ganley]: I think for us, we are interested in anybody that is interested in us, quite frankly. I mean, we go beyond that…. But I think most colleges now, on their website—on their athletics/ swimming and diving website—have a questionnaire for prospects. You know, if a prospect fills out a questionnaire, we are going to contact them.
[Shinofield]: Thank you.
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