Mike Curley: One of the things that we pride ourselves on and one of the values I have in the club is having an all-encompassing program. So basically, it might take years, but my goal and I have seen this happen over a period of time that is their commitment level at least grow and certainly we have many kids on our team that have different commitment levels and different motivational levels and everything else, but to answer your question, my goal is just to make them better – in terms of having more commitment than they had when they started and I have been pretty darn successful at that. Do you want specifics? Absolutely. No, but that is an interesting thing that you bring that up. Mike Swider – this football coach from Wheaton said that he actually talked to Mike Ditka – the Wheaton program is up in Chicago and Ditka said, “well, what do you do with the people that aren’t committed? What do you do with the people that don’t want to be motivated and Ditka said, “I get rid of them”. Well, we are not in that business and especially at the high school level and I am a teacher by trade as well so I don’t get rid of anybody and you know – every day you put your arm around them and say I love ya, but yes – my attention probably goes during the swim practice itself – a little bit more heavy towards the kids that do have expectations that equal their commitment level.
Dick Shoulberg: First of all, this young man, one of my heroes – this young man lets me come down to his 50 meter pool at Christmas – not only is he a great high school coach, but he is a great who is a great coach to his son and I have never had a try-out. I have never had a cut and I manage the amount of minutes I can give the athlete who is less committed – I just manage their minutes and I will say to them – you know – you only want to get 70 minutes, but Theresa Crippen is going to get a lot of time and then hopefully next year you want to do a little more and maybe we can give you 90 minutes. Never had a try-out – never had a cut and I have close to 90 – between 85 and 90 middle and upper school kids every year so I don’t cut, but I control the amount of minutes of water time you get and then I will say – you are going to have 70 minutes, but let’s go 40 minutes of fitness and it is all done in the pool area so I can monitor it and I can say to the kids, wow – you are really doing a great job in fitness – lets try to add another ten minutes and then I start giving more pool time so I have never, never cut. Never will have a try-out. Does that answer your question?
Q: I am kind of a new high school coach. And I have taken over the high school program there where the previous years it has been like – if you want to come Monday – you come Monday. If you want to come two days – come two days — how do you – what is something you can do to kind of change the mind-set of these – well I am dealing with a girlfriend now – Mondays is.. — what are some things you do to get these kids?
Dick Hannula: I think what your question is – your are coming into an existing program and how do you change the culture? My first high school program and I was only about 3-4-5 years older than the gang that was in there. I started at age 22 in that high school program and I just was a mean SOB I guess to start with because do it my way or else and they did, but that is not the way I would it. What I tried to do subsequently was to develop and environment – I learned – you have got to develop an environment for these kids to flourish in and to become committed and I always challenged the kids to get next to the best kid – the best student – the best swimmer and we always said that the strength of our team was based on the weakest or the slowest swimmer – not the weakest, but the slowest swimmer because it was only the slowest swimmers that – they had to improve to push the next bunch up. So basically all these little things just ended up into making and environment and a lot of pride in being a member of this particular organization or team, but I learned that over years, but it didn’t take me many – I would say by the third year I was pretty wise on not just being a dictator.
Dick Shoulberg: As I mentioned in my talk – I monitor their grades and I think first and foremost they are student and if a student athlete is excelling in history – they are going to probably improve in swimming because there is a pattern in their life to try to get better and I don’t – my kids are not allowed to come whenever they want. They come when their pool time is scheduled. They have to. It is not fair – to have 90 kids coming whenever they want – day off – day on – whatever – that is not going to work with me so there is a time commitment and a dry-land commitment that they adhere to.
Mike Curley: My high school – I started there 15 years ago – this is my 16th year. They really didn’t have a team so I am in a unique situation I would say, but it started from the very, very beginning. I came to Lake Highland Prep in 1993. The school itself only had 650 kids. Just this year they have 2,017 so it has just really taken off. And the school is a lot bigger. It used to be a Junior College and there are brand new buildings – a brand new 50 meter pool and all kinds of things so basically – from inception – I was part of that program and yes, I was a mean SOB initially. In the first three years basically I laid the groundwork because there was only about five or six kids that even wanted to swim. I think I had 7 the first year that wanted to do high school. So, I don’t have a lot of kids that just kind of show up and say, “hey – I want to swim”. I have more now than I did 10 or 12 years ago, but the school knows – the personification that we give off is “nobody works harder than we do” and so don’t come onto the pool deck unless you are going to train. Like Gregg said this morning – don’t even bother showing up unless you are willing to strap it on and get ready to go so that thought process is still you know – throughout the school and so I started it right from the very, very beginning. I didn’t have to kick anybody off – I didn’t have to run anybody off and things like that, but now – only the people that really want to be good at it show up.
Q: The question was – men versus women – differences in the program. The difference between coaching guys and girls in high school – that is the question –
Dick Shoulberg: Gentlemen: Women work harder than men – it is that simple. My wife works harder than I do and I encourage the guys to train like women. I wish women had more fun. My guys can laugh it off and fool around a little more, but when you are in a lane in my program – it is co-ed and you have to adhere to the lane in the group and so the guys that like to goof around – they are probably way over there and the girls that want to work really, really hard are right there in front of me, but the sets are similar – the dry-land is different and we play a game called “medicine ball basketball” which is really an awesome game. You do not want to play the game if you are a male with the Germantown Academy girl swimmers – they will eat you alive – they are so competitive so I let the guys just go play because I know my girls – when I had Alicia and Katie R. and Theresa – My God – I didn’t even want to go on the court with them – they are just so competitive so I let them be competitive. I don’t push the guys down. In 1986 I said Dave Wharton – our first world record holder – trains like a female and if all males would train like a female – US Swimming would not have to worry about anything. I mean – it is just – girls really work harder day in and day out. I just wish they would enjoy the sport a little different.
Mike Curley: We train together co-ed as well and we have the pleasure every year when Coach Shoulberg brings his kids down over Christmas, to watch what they do and he is not sugar-coating it one inkling. He definitely has an animal lane so to speak – Lane 1 and it seems to be all girls and then he has the guys kind of lane 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 or whatever – spread out in the lanes. We started something – probably 4-5 years ago and we have lane status and Lane 1 is where you want to swim if you want to go the fastest intervals and lane 8 – so to speak and I learned this from Coach Wadley and we used to do this the first couple of years that we were at Ohio State – that is the satisfied lane and the satisfied lane is the kids that are satisfied with as good as they are ever going to be so we just kind of let them have fun and we love that they are there, but I don’t necessarily call it the satisfied lane anymore, but lane 8 and we kind of just have elite status that way, but our girls and our boys definitely swim together. About every other week I have separated them just for fun to see how it goes and they really love that. They just take off and the girls do fine, but then they love it and appreciate it even more when you bring them back together.
Dick Hannula: Hey – just one second. I am not going to add much, but we trained together and our girls – when I started doing that at – I brought the best girls at our club into our high school training program to challenge the guys and to have the gals be challenged to a greater degree. It really paid off – it especially paid off for the girls – they really improved. The other thing – I think you have to be a little bit careful. I played some games with the boys. I used to get in the boys face and let them know how you think – you know – you want to be a little more cautious and careful with the ladies and like I used to play some games at Punkers and we would name people either turkeys or punkers and I couldn’t really do that with the gals. They never really understood that. They were hurt – the boys were proud and they would forget anything the next day, but the gals would carry it with them so I think you just have to love them a lot more and be a lot kinder, but they do just exactly what the rest of these guys say – they can work. They can recover a lot faster.
Q: The question is on attendance policies.
Mike Curley: Just quick and short – I, at the beginning of the year have a quick little meeting and I try to equate everything so that they are thinking in terms of other sports as well. The football coaches do not allow people to come when they want to and the baseball coaches do not allow them so as swim coaches – I don’t either. I don’t tell them if you miss a practice you are not going to swim in the meet, but it becomes something that they absolutely know that that is a fact that they have to be at practice. But, I hold them accountable as well, so at the beginning of the year I ask all of the kids to give me their goals and their expectations so, therefore, if they tell me my expectation is to make it to the state high school meet or score at the state high school meet and then every other week they are missing a practice for something – I can call that card out, but it is understood that every practice – except for Saturdays – every practice during the week has to be attended. Dick Hannula: When I started at my second high school after seven years at the first one – I just let everybody know and this worked real well, but what I told them was – you can miss one workout and I wont say anything, but if you miss a second workout you have told me you don’t want to be on the team and I dropped them. I never had to drop a kid – one thing about it – they learned early on that if I said something I meant it and they followed through. With my club team I had a certain number of workouts per week – per group and – but peer pressure is the greatest thing. You get everybody to talk to the kids and let them – the leaders let them whether or not they are showing up or not and what it means and then if they get to the point where they were misusing time I would have a conference with them, but again – basically peer pressure and team pride – never really had that problem.
Dick Shoulberg: I don’t have problems with attendance. Kids want to be there and as I said in my talk – you are invited to go to mornings so if you want to be on the A relay – you figure out a way to be invited to go to the mornings and I have never taken attendance ever, but I can tell you if you missed yesterday and I will tell you, but I wont yell at you and if you need an academic afternoon off – take it. That is a written rule. I mean – there are no written rules, but that is a written rule if you know what I am saying.
Q: I have another question and it is not – maybe it does tie into the commitment aspect of it, but one of the changes that we have seen in the schools over the last 10 – maybe even 15 years is kids are committed when they are there, but they have got so many things pulling on them. You know, in many high schools you will see kids that are in sports, band and you know, they are doing – in our district – MASA which is kind of a math and science kind of program so they are involved in a lot and when they are there they give you everything – you know. Have you guys run into that and if you did….
Dick Shoulberg – so your question is how do you deal with kids that have multiple commitments – not just swimming, okay? I let them choose. If they want to play in the school back – again – they probably wont make the A relay and that is okay with me and a lot of good trumpet players have entertained me and a lot of slow swimmers haven’t so.
Mike Curley: I have always encouraged the kids to do other sports. I think I heard Coach Shoulberg say the same thing and I for one played every sport imaginable all the way through – up until my sophomore year and I guess I kept that with me so I tell all the kids that I really want them to make a decision by their sophomore year what they want to do. We do have a couple of kids that you know – also play on the varsity soccer team, but basically commitment-wise – I am asking them to be all in – you know – to use that term in poker whatever – to be all in by their sophomore year. My standing rule and it is a written rule – if you tell me 24 hours in advance I can take it, but when you don’t talk to me 24 hours in advance about a doctor’s appointment or getting behind in school and things like that – I do not handle that very well at all. If someone walks on the deck and says I can’t practice today because I have got a book report. I have a really tough time – even if it is academic – letting that go. If they tell me a day ahead of time, I can work around it.
Dick Hannula – you know – I haven’t been in high school for a few years and you say 10 or 15 years – kind of puts me a little behind the 8 ball, but I think one thing about kids – how much do kids really change? I continue to teach that age group in the club. Every kid wants to excel at something. They may hide it. They may act cool and everything – I do not think that that has ever changed. Deep down – everyone wants to excel at something and the secret I guess as a coach – along with a lot of other people – just gotta find a way to tinker with that and make a goal. I had a lot of soccer players that became excellent swimmers – of course – it was a different season. In high school season – I am talking about just the season – nobody was required to be there in off season, but most of them did – probably 95% – maybe more – maybe a little dab less – continued on Tacoma Swim Club, but some of them played soccer and some of them – I had a lot of football players – had some great swimmers.
Q: I agree with Coach Shoulberg – that the girls work harder and I think they are a lot tougher and I think that I have seen in my experience with boys is that boys tend to need mommies a little bit more now days than they used to be so if success is the key motivator in a lot of people in our instant society today, do you guys find that that you have to trick the guys a little bit more and give them a little more success during grades 9-10 to really get them to buy into what – so your question is do you have to sort of? The question really is – if you do do that – what tricks do you use? So, do you have to trick the mamma’s boys and if so – what tricks? Okay.
Dick Shoulberg – I have almost 100% of my athletes go on and swim at universities and I don’t care if it is Division I, II or III – to me I really don’t care. George Kennedy at John Hopkins Division III is the greatest – he can coach as well as anyone in the world and a great academic institution and I have five guys down there right now. What I tell the kids – I have had kids with 1600 SAT’s that really wanted to go to the elitist schools and unfortunately, you need a wedge – even with 1600 Boards so in 9th and 10th grade I let the boys sort of fool around a little more. I had a boy this year who went 19.2 at John Hopkins as a senior who in 9th grade was going to quit every day – named Bradford Tess the 4th and was so happy that he finished swimming for Coach Kennedy so I do trick them. My girls do not seem to need the tricks as much, but I will explain to a 9th or 10th grade boy – if you really want to go to that great University you had better have a wedge and the wedge may be swimming. And more important – we can teach you discipline to hone those skills, if you have them. If you don’t have them, I don’t tell them you are going to go to John Hopkins – George isn’t – he doesn’t need a slower, slower swimmer, but there are so many great universities out there – Division I, II or III that provide wonderful opportunities for all high school kids and that is the wedge that I use.
Mike Curley: I find it exactly the opposite. Of the kids on my team – I have two boys to every girl. I don’t know why. Maybe I need to find tricks to keep the girls on the team. I don’t know what it is, but I really do – even on my club team – of the 200 kids we have on the team – I will bet you we have 120 boys and 80 girls so I don’t know if it is the society – I do not know if it is the school – I don’t know what it is, but I have never really thought of it, but it sounds like I need to come up with some tricks to keep the women. Our girls are always very, very competitive – I only had ten girls on the whole high school team last year – ten and we actually got 3rd at the state meet. Nine of them are really, really good swimmers, but I don’t know if it is the girls. If I think about it really quick – I am thinking that it is the personality of the girls that we have that might have run the other girls off. They are just really strong, ornery chicks – I mean – they probably are. They probably run some of the guys off, but the guys just kind of let it go, but they are not in any category like Theresa Crippen or Alicia or any of those girls, but they are talented kids, but they are ornery too – that is what makes them good I think.
Dick Hannula: I am at a double disadvantage – I can’t hear the questions even if – if he shortcuts them back here I do not know what the question was. I never really had any trouble. I think what keeps boys in sport – that is the idea – I think as long as they keep improving and you keep encouraging and if they have a little temporary drop-off and not improving for a while if you can get to the bottom of it and continue to encourage them you will keep them around.
Dick Shoulberg –The relays are too fast and so if you want to roll the dice and think you can come three days a week and make the A relay – so be it – do it – never had it happen because I think the kids encourage the kids with talent to do more work and I think that my best coaches at Germantown Academy are my athletes and so they will see a kid with real talent and they will encourage them to do more than three days a week. I don’t know if that makes sense, but I would never say to a kid – if you have the 4th fastest time, you miss three Fridays in six weeks – you are off the A relay – no way – the fastest four swim on the A relay, but I never had a problems that the kids that don’t work make the relays. Yeah – lets say the kid plays – lets say a kid comes three afternoons a week and plays the accordion two afternoons a week and plays at the Academy Music. You wont go to morning practices at Germantown Academy if you are not committed in the afternoon? If you are going to pick and choose when you want to come – you are not invited to come in the morning. You are not having space if you are not committed to the morning. I have always done that because I like going to the mornings – listening to my music – talking to my kids and I don’t like to yell in the mornings, but at Germantown Academy they think I am crazy having morning practice. There is only one other sport in my 40 years that have consistent morning practice and it is wrestling. Two days a week the top wrestlers swim pulling buckets with my kids and I let them come two days a week to pull buckets. The one kid was the National Prep School champion the last two years and he is wrestling now at – it is either Cornell or Brown – great academic schools and he motivated my swimmers to work harder. I have kids from other sports that come in and climb the ropes with the swimmers. They are not in the way and they are more than welcome to come and they are high school athletes. I work with the whole girls basketball team for three years – 7 o’clock to 7:30 – I had these bars that weighed like 20 pounds and it is 30 minutes of non-stop movement of the bar. Two of those girls started at Harvard and one started at Princeton – they are not swimmers – they are Germantown Academy students that I try to help.
Q: This year I took my high school team on a travel trip – a 6+ hour bus ride – how do you guys handle travel trips for high school?
Dick Shoulberg – Mike makes the arrangements for me.
Mike Curley: Once again Lake Highland is kind of a unique place because it is a prep school. The State of Florida allows us to even have 6th, 7th and 8th grade kids on our high school team so we don’t travel much. I have my middle son, who is 12, he is allowed to be on the high school team. You can see what a dynamic I have. So, we don’t travel much. Now – that being said – once the kids mature we will go on trips. We are headed down to Fort Lauderdale to go to the Woodson Memorial at Pine Crest and Jay Fitzgerald and we are going to take a bus and go down there and because I do have a couple of young kids on the team I asked for two parents to go with us. Normally, it would just be myself and the assistant, but I asked for two parents to go with us to help us coral the 12 and 13 year old kids so I guess – does that answer your question about how we do travel trips? Otherwise everything is just across the town – 12 miles away and come right back, but if you meant like a real trip where we are going to have to travel two hours and 45 minutes down to Ft. Lauderdale – I enlisted the parents to come and help.
Dick Hannula: – we didn’t travel in high school either, but we traveled the club – to have overnights – all the other things that go with that. I learned a long time ago – you better have some kind of a standard to live by while you are there or you are going to swim very poorly. We always had something about the girls not being in the boys rooms – boys not being in the girls rooms with doors shut – they could be there when the group was there and I was aware of what the situation was and we had curfew, but all those things were not really rules – they were standards in order to swim fast at the meet and we measured that. If a person – one time at a national meet – junior national meet – a mother called up in the middle of the night – not the middle of the night – called up within the curfew time to get her daughter – couldn’t find her-finally got a hold of me about midnight. I had to wake up all kinds of kids to find out where this girl was at. She ended up being in a room with another team – with girls, but she was in another room – another team. They found her about 2 in the morning. Well, her parents are frantic. I am really ticked off because I had to awaken the entire team to see if they could find the kid so we got her – put her on an airplane the next day – sent her home. It killed the relay we had – we had a good one.
Dick Shoulberg: I will tell you a cute story about Reese Chandler. I love Reese Chandler. Reese Chandler – in 9th grade – we had a team meeting – Highlander – hotel – the Marriott – I was not out of my room – the meeting was over in 8 seconds later – I heard laughter behind the door in the girl’s room, but I knew it wasn’t a girl and I knocked on the door – there were no boys there and I said, “I heard a guy laughing” – oh no – nobody and I said okay and I went – I opened the bathroom and there was Reese behind the shower – there 8 seconds – I caught him. Call your parents. The four girls in the room – call your parents – you will not go to Disney – you will go to extra training and Reese – you will be my roommate because my wife – we went down Christmas night – it is cheaper and I said Reese, you will be my roommate. You will sleep in the bathtub with the light on and to this day he tells everyone that I left the TV on all night because my wife sleeps at home and I next to her with the TV on every night – it doesn’t bother me so I have sent kids home. I knew nothing happened in 8 seconds or he would be really quick and I disciplined them and he still talks about that years later and his parents and the four girl’s parents so I evaluate the situation. I had a boy at Loews in ’72 – I took relay swimmers only, plus National kids to Nationals and I took for every room – every two rooms there was a parent that slept in-between – on a cot you know how you have the adjoining doors – and Mr. Hemmerle came to me about 4 in the morning and he says – no Larry. What do you mean – no Larry? He is not in bed. I have been up since 2:30 – no Larry in bed. I said, go back to bed – don’t worry about it. Back then you used metal keys to open your doors so I am like back in the corner in the hallway and this older woman opens the door and looks out the hallway and I am like – holy crap – Larry is in there – it was an older woman. She had to be in her 40’s and all of a sudden Larry comes running out in his boxer shorts with the metal key in his door – man – he didn’t know what hit him. I put him on a plane. I didn’t have any problems for a long time after that, but I was so pissed – and I sent Larry home with a sore head. Now, I couldn’t do that today, I wouldn’t do that today because they have these faster keys now – I am only kidding.
Dick Shoulberg: – I love Christmas training trips. A: So you are trying to figure out how to increase the participation in your training trip? Okay – putting together a training trip okay.
Dick Shoulberg: – putting together a training trip – Mike – I am coming down – do you have space? I am coming down this year the day after Christmas because it is a non-Olympic year and I want to go back home on January 3rd – called the hotel – stay at the same hotel – yeah – but I have been doing training trips ever since I went to G.A. I think it is good to leave your environment and go to a new environment and I think it is really important in their development and so I just find places that I can rent pool time and go and my parent group organizes it – no plane. We used to go to Yale. We used to take vans in the 70’s up to Yale and I remember in the 80’s on a Sunday I did a 1500 for time – not I – the kids did and Frank Heath said, “you are doing what?”. I said, 1500 for time. He said, “nobody does that” and I said, well I don’t want to be like everybody else. Sunday morning – end of our training trip – Frank Heath stayed and timed every hundred on Erika Hansen – thought it was the neatest thing he ever saw.
Dick Hannula: I want to add to that because Trina Radki had a training camp in Hawaii and Frank Heath timed her again – had a 30,000 meter time trial (D.S. it was 15) No – I think it was 30. It was 30. (D.S. – I have only done that to Fran Crippen.) It was 30. This is how legends grow. No – not 30,000 – 15,000 fly for time. She was doing the last hundreds about 8 seconds faster than she was doing the whole way, but anyway – Frank Heath timed the whole thing. We didn’t take any training trips.
Mike Curley: We don’t either, but I can tell you they really do do that type of work. I will never forget a quick story about Coach Shoulberg bringing his kids down and he wanted to prove a point to this young lady that she might even be under-achieving so she did a 10,000 fly for time and I was there and she did a 10,000 fly and then he made her get out, in front of everybody and say – I will make the National cut in the 200 fly” – in front of everybody – his team – my team and we are all just standing there in awe because we didn’t do a hundred fly, but he did 10,000 fly and this young lady – and then she didn’t say it loud enough and Coach Shoulberg said, you better say that again louder and I mean – it was just total commitment. “I am going to make the National cut in the 200 fly”. Was that one of the Crippen girls? Yeah – well – she made the cut, but he is not exaggerating at all.
Q? Who goes on the training trip and who pays for it?
Dick Shoulberg: Since these two gentlemen do not travel – I will answer it – the families pay for it. If they can’t afford it – it is my job to find the money. I have never had an athlete miss a training trip or a meet because they couldn’t afford it and I have a general idea of who can and who can’t and so we have already planned – last year we talked to Mike about coming back. Last year I did not go to Orlando – my assistants went because I took the 5 top athletes to Puerto Rico. I just didn’t want to deal with 45 high school kids for eleven days. I chickened out, but the parents pay for it. If they can’t afford it I find the funds.
Q: Does everyone on your team go or are you selective on who attends?
Dick Shoulberg: Everyone doesn’t go and this year I have already sent a parent letter out – this summer – dates we are going to Orlando – dates we are coming back – two groups – the first group will go longer. The second group will go for 6 days and then there is a commitment to the sport and if you don’t meet that commitment – you don’t go. If you are slow and meet that commitment you go. Last question – who is going to be the anchor man?
Q: What are your thoughts on dating on the team – whether it is the club team or the high school team – for those age kids?
Dick Shoulberg: We don’t think the coaches should date the people on the team – Dating – The question is dating people on the team.
Dick Hannula: – we have had several kids that have ended up married and still married after 30 years or more. If it doesn’t interfere with their commitment – it is none of my business. I never really said anything about something like that unless of course they started holding hands and cuddling right during a swim meet or during practice – hell yeah – that was out. Sometimes I would have some kids that would think they couldn’t – didn’t have to sit with the team – they would be up there sitting with their girl friends for a short period of time – I would call them out – I don’t care how many people are in the place – I called them out – get over here – that happened.
Dick Shoulberg: – I tell my athletes if biologically things happen to each and every one of us that have been planted on this earth and if you fall in love – fine – just don’t fall out of work and it happens. I mean – I married my high school sweetheart and this happens so – and it is sort of fun to tease the kids that haven’t had a date yet – it will happen and it does and I just don’t want spats on the deck. There won’t be spats on the deck and if your training partner happens to be your boyfriend or girlfriend and you start swimming slow because you are fighting – I don’t want to hear that crap. You just keep going fast and just dig it out. But if they are going to be in the pool – the number of hours that they are together – sparks will happen and I am not against it. I just wish that I could still do it.
Mike Curley: I don’t have a whole lot to add to that – socially, I guess the only rule that I always say at the beginning of the year and they get tired of hearing it, but the only thing I tell them is, “don’t you ever do anything to embarrass your parents. I tell them that at the beginning of the year and they are like aww – he is going to say it again – that is my one rule, don’t you ever do anything that is going to embarrass your parents. You had better think twice because you are going to have to make that phone call and socially – that is the only rule I give out to the kids every single year.