Establishing and Building Traditions by Lanny Landtroop (2004)


Published


Lanny Landtroop: Kingwood High School, Kingwood, Texas; 37 years coaching, all high school, all in Texas.  His teams have won 67 out of a possible 71 DISTRICT CHAMPIONSHIPS and 16 STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS. He has coached over 200 ALL-AMERICANS. He has been the Texas high school coach of the year 17 times, been named the National Federation National Coach of the Year, has been awarded the TISCA Lifetime Achievement Award, the NISCA Hall of Fame Award, and the NISCA Collegiate and Scholastic Award. Lanny has spoken at numerous state and national clinics and this is his third appearance at the ASCA World Clinic.

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I have coached for 37 years and loved every minute of it. I could have stayed another ten, but I decided that perhaps there were some other challenges that would really help me fulfill my life.  The thing that I am really going to miss is the same thing all of you would miss and that is the kids – just love those kids.  I would like to begin this morning with a parable.  This is about traditions and traditions helping to build a program.  One of our traditions at Kingwood High School, I was at Clear Lake High School before this, is we tell a lot of stories and the reason that we use stories is that people remember them.  You can give people facts all day long.  You can give them all this information in 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 and most of it goes – you can usually remember maybe half of it and after two or three weeks you have forgotten all of it but one or two things, but they remember the stories so we use a lot of stories.  I would like to start with a parable this morning and make a couple of points with it.

 

It is called “Magic Pebbles”.  One night a group of nomads were preparing to retire for the evening when suddenly they were surrounded by a great light.  They knew that they were in the presence of a celestial being.  With great anticipation they awaited a heavenly message of great importance that they knew must be especially for them.  Finally, the voice spoke, it said “Gather as many pebbles as you can, put them in your saddle bags, travel a day’s journey and tomorrow night; it might find you glad and it will find you sad.” and after the visitor departed the nomads feared their disappointment and anger with each other. They had expected the revelation of a great universal truth that would enable them to create wealth, health and purpose for the world, but instead they were given a menial task that made no sense to them at all.  However, the memory of the brilliance of their visitor caused each one to pick up a few pebbles and deposit them in their saddle bags while voicing their displeasure.  They traveled a day’s journey and that night while making camp, they reached into their saddle bags and discovered every pebble they gathered had become a diamond.  They were glad they had diamonds, but sad they had not gathered more pebbles.  While you are here this morning and this weekend, I would like to encourage you to understand that what seems to be a pebble may end up being a diamond.  When you go back and you are working with your kids, you never know what is inside of any of those kids and they may appear to be a pebble, but in there is a diamond.  In all of them – there is some kind of a diamond. Look for those diamonds and help them to discover those diamonds, which speaks to what we are talking about this morning – tradition.

 

Traditions help people. It kinds of gives them a license to be themselves and to be as the army says “To be all they can be”.  What is a tradition?  A tradition is the passing down of elements of a culture from generation to generation, especially by oral communications.  Secondly, a mode of thought – our behavior followed from generation to generation, especially by oral communication.  Why do we want to have traditions?  Now first, let me say this – everybody in here – coaches, your organization has traditions.  Hopefully, they are all positive traditions, but you all have traditions.  All I am going to do is to try to discuss a little bit with you philosophically, the establishment of those traditions.  I am going to spend some time just going through some of our traditions and tell you how they came about because it is an ongoing thing.

 

Just Wednesday night, right before I left to come up here, one of our traditions is a potluck.  We start off the season every year this way.  They had their pot luck Wednesday.  They were having the inter-squad on Thursday and I was invited to come back to the pot luck and one of the things that they do at the pot luck is the seniors all talk to the group.  I guess there were probably 3-400 people there.  They were talking to them and telling them all about the different traditions that we have in the program, so that everybody gets a feel for what is going on.  With traditions, you develop continuity and an individual awareness of positive expectations.  Developing a continuity and an individual awareness of positive expectations – athletically, academically, socially and emotionally is very important.  As coaches, our challenge is to help people discover themselves.  High school kids are searching for an identity.  This is to help them to free them to give them a license to search for an identity, because they all have these have-to’s in their lives and we would like to convert those have-to’s into want to’s.  If we can convert those have to’s into want to’s then, because that is the basic motivational model is to take all of the have to’s out of your life and convert them to want to’s and discover that you are really doing things because you want to do them.

 

In communicating, always choose words carefully.  In other words, word things in such a way that positive expectations are understood and self-reliance is reinforced.  Be very careful about what we say.  We must be very careful because people very often hear what they want to hear and in your estimation you might be saying things in a very positive manner, but that may not be what someone is hearing.  We want to be sure that when we communicate that we are asking them to better themselves. We are developing positive expectations and that things are understood very well for self-reliance, that this is up to me.  Everything is up to me.  One of the things that we do every year – Keith Bell has this play book and one of the things in there – the thing that I found most useful is he has this test and it has gosh, I don’t know, maybe a hundred questions or something.  It says who is responsible for this?  Who is responsible for this?  Who is responsible for this and the answer to every one of them, we hope, is going to be me.  We give that to them at the beginning of the season and hopefully to help them understand.

 

I remember that the freshmen are always amazed because they have mama and daddy for several of those things you know.  Who is responsible to get you up in the morning?  Well, mama is.  Who is responsible to make sure you eat right, well mama is and all those things.  What we try to do is to do that and the older kids do this.  I don’t have a lot to say about it because that part of the tradition is developing leadership and the older kids will explain to them why it is important for them to accept responsibility for their experience – for the entirety of their experience.  The creed – I guess – team and me – probably told 25 years ago maybe at one of these conventions. I believe it was Nort Thornton was doing a talk and he said: Cal Berkeley at that time was riding pretty high.  I think they won one or two NCAA’S and their motto for that year was to create an environment where champions are inevitable. Boy, I latched onto that like anything in the world. I thought that was the greatest thing in the world and we have used that ever since. We create an environment where champions are inevitable in everything that we do.  That is how all of our traditions and all the things that we develop are used, as you are going to see traditions as an ongoing thing developing.

 

If we can do and think philosophically, always in the back of my mind is this saying – what does this do to our environment?  Is this helping us move in the direction that we want to?  Is this creating positive powerful positive expectations?  As you are going to see, these are simple little things that make huge differences.  Create a habit of thinking.  It can be in my own thinking.  It can be helping the kids.  It can be in self talk and knowing how to use language that is beneficial and promotes growth and success.  As there is an issue with someone, as I begin to try to deal with it in some way, the thing that I want to have in the back of my mind, is this developing growth and success?  Am I using language – am I using actions that are helping in the long-run and that are so important?  This person can get where they can be, to their possibilities, the habit of thinking, using language that is beneficial and promotes growth and success.

 

Success begins with little successes and so do we.  I am going to have a talk with you in the morning and we are going to talk more about this, but try to put people in situations where they have little successes, so they begin to think that they can be successful and then you just gradually, I mean, this is not rocket science and as they have little successes they begin to think – gee – I can do this!  All of a sudden their self image goes up and they are doing better things and pretty soon they get to the point where they have big successes.

 

A big success is an individual thing.  It may just be winning an event.  It may just coming in 5th in an event, but it is a big success for them.  Anytime anyone has a personal best, we call it a world record.  When they first come in they say, what do you mean I got a world record?  In your world it is and you know that is a big thing. Oh yeah – it really is – that’s a world record and so that gives them something very positive, powerful and growth oriented to – “well coach, I got a world record today.”  In a dual meet or something, they came in 5th place or whatever, but they got a world record, so they can see that they are developing and are improving.  What happens very often in a per-performance sport is that people forget where they were.  They are here and they say gee; let’s say they have a little plateau and they forget that a month ago or a year ago whatever it happens to be; they forget where they were and of course, I am not going to talk about logs, but we ask them to keep logs.

 

I have a sheet and they keep their logs and they have a little evaluation at the end of each week and that kind of thing.  Once every two or three years, I would check them; that was all.  I want them to take responsibility for it, but every now and then we would say okay, bring your logs in. I even had people come in where they had run to Kinko’s and all that kind of thing, but we want them to take responsibility, to understand that they are responsible for their experience and once they begin to develop that feeling that I am responsible for my experience. Once they have ownership, the sky is the limit.

 

Okay, what I am going to do? How many of you have ever been to a major league football, baseball, basketball place?  When you went in, I am going to have trouble staying out behind this thing. When you went in, how much did you have to pay for a hot dog?  $5.00 minimum?  What about a coke or a beer?  Did it tear you up?  No, because you expected it, didn’t you? That is what you expected.  I am going to a major league park and  am going to have to pay all of this.  Well, that is what traditions do.  They set up a level of expectations, just like going to the major league ball park and paying 5 bucks for a hot dog.  It sets up a level of expectation so what happens is when kids are getting ready to come into your program, they are talking to the older kids.  They begin to say, you are really going to like high school, because we have a lot of fun! Now does that mean we do not work hard?  No.  What it means is we are going to do a lot of things that give them a license to be all they can be – to do what they can do and to free them.

 

One of the traditions I don’t even have here on my list that we developed about – gosh I was giving a talk about I guess five years ago at A&M.  The Sunday before I was going to give the talk the next weekend I happened to see a segment on one of these news magazine shows and it was about the Pike Place Fish Market.  Are you familiar with that?  It fired me up, because here are a bunch of fish mongers who are having fun.  I mean, they are having a blast and people are coming to watch them sell fish so I got really fired up.  I went on the internet and I got all the information and I did it in about a little 10-15 minute segment on it, but it all continues: come to find out they have put out movies.  They have got a couple of movies.  I went and talked with our principal. Our principal has even  started using them for the faculty.  It is a bunch of fish mongers who have principles and one of their principles is play. So we took the principles that they had and they became traditions.   The seniors decided again and  again. This is done by the seniors. They decided that it was everybody’s responsibility on the team, every day, to make someone else’s day.  No one checks on it, but guess what happens to the atmosphere?  They do something special.

 

So, my kids went out and they bought a bunch of supplies and I am sure a lot of you have done things like this just for communication reasons. They made a big mailbox thing with a bunch of PVC tubes about this big around.  They put people’s names on them so they would write little notes to each other and put them in their things and they would put things in people’s locker.  I have heard people do this, but called different things. I think Skip calls them sunshine notes or something like that out at Stanford, but it works.  It is amazing!  We all like to hear good things about ourselves.  Is there anyone who doesn’t like to hear good things about themselves?  We all like to hear that. It just kind of makes your day from all the little things, and of course, the girls go a little overboard with it sometimes and bring gifts to each other and you know, they really get into that kind of thing.

 

So, Russ, my assistant took over for me and at the pot luck, he said “coach, we saw the fish video this morning – the kids loved it again.”  Every year we show the fish video.  It kind of frees them up and lets them see that no matter what you are doing it can be an enjoyable experience, IF you create that.  It doesn’t come from the mail order place; it comes from inside.  It comes from us! It comes from what we do and the attitudes that we permeate into whatever we are doing.  Alright?

 

I am just going to go through a bunch of traditions. I don’t know how much time I have, but I am just going to go through a bunch. I’ve got probably different traditions than what you have heard of.   I got a whole list of them here.  I wish that I had known there was an overhead. I didn’t ask for one so I would have put them on, but I think I can communicate these alright.  The first one is and I think it is one of the most important ones to really help change an atmosphere and it is so simple. We call it the greeting game.  We were having training at 5:30 in the morning and by the way we call it training – we don’t call it workouts – it is training.  We go to the weight room but we don’t go to the weight room. We go to the SBR. We go there to build strength so it is called a strength building room. It is the SBR. It is not the weight room. We don’t go to lift weights. We go to build strength.  Those little bitty things make big differences.  They are so small and yet they make big differences.  In the greeting game, the kids were coming in, and you know, they would come in like this and they would go oh like this and then they would hop in the water and they would swim and they would get out at 7 o’clock. We had 5:30 to 7 workouts; our school started at 7:30. It was workouts for so long and you know they were working.

 

They were doing alright, but I thought, what can we do to step it up a notch?  So I said alright guys, we are going to play and we play a lot of games. I call them all games and everybody always wants to play. We are going to play a game that if I smile and say hello to you before you smile and say hello to me, you are going to become sour puss of the day and if you are the sour puss of the day we needed to have an athletic enhancement activity for the sour puss of the day, so they would choose. Every year they would choose something. It is usually 25 push-ups or something, but it is an athletic enhancement activity.  So you come in and all of a sudden they come in at 5:10 – 5:15 in the morning and they are smiling and saying hello.  Well, it was so obvious the atmosphere was totally different.  They got in the pool and they did things so much better. It was such a little thing – I said – man – where have I been?

 

I took it to my classroom and said we are going to play this little game and everybody wants to play?  Oh good, it was unanimous and so the next day people are coming into the classroom instead of having an athletic enhancement they got to sing the national anthem, the school song or some song of their choice and it ended up usually being you know, Mary had a little lamb or something, but the whole idea is that no one ever has to sing because they come in and smile and say “morning coach.”  Now all you are doing is giving them license to be friendly.

 

The reason people are not friendly is they are afraid it will not be reciprocated, that is the only thing holding them back.  People want to be friendly.  Have you ever noticed you can be in an elevator and everybody is sitting there like this and you just say something halfway friendly and all of a sudden it opens up a conversation – true?  All you need is to give people a chance to be friendly and they are going to be so in the greeting game. Well after about, you know, so we had this different atmosphere in my classroom. It was really noticeable.  It was in the classroom, this whole different atmosphere.  People would come in “hey coach, how are you doing this morning?”   Then after a little bit you just have to have one person or two sing or something and then that would be it, but after a couple of weeks what have they done?  They have developed a habit.  All of a sudden they come in and automatically say hello.  You see them in the hall and they say hi.  It is automatic. They have developed that habit.

 

What is our sport, but preparation and creating good habits?  That is where we get success in preparing, and part of that preparation is creating good habits to be what we can be. So they developed a habit.  Well, after two or three weeks it began to kind of die down a little bit and I thought well now what can we do.  I know what we will do so I said alright guys, we are going to change the rules of the game a little bit – this was our introductory rules – the rules of the game now – the real game is that as you come in every morning I may be hiding somewhere and I may just jump out and get you so now we have people coming in at 5:15 in the morning like this – is that fun?  Isn’t it simple?  Does it work?  Yeah.  I started doing it and have been doing it for 25 or 30 years and it is just unbelievable.  I see kids that I coached years and years and years ago and they will scream across – “hey coach”, and they will for everybody, but I mean they really have a fit because that is their habit. They have created a positive powerful habit that creates a great environment, and guess what?  They remember that stuff for the rest of their lives.  They remember it for the rest of their lives – the greeting game.

 

Oh, what is our goal?  I tell them, our goal in the greeting game is world peace.  We have no small goals around here.  If you can smile and say hello to someone looking down the barrel of a rifle, you are sick.  If you will smile and say hello to people, then you will go out and smile and say hello to your teammates and to your coaches.  You will go to your classrooms and do it.  I have had teachers come back and say the swimmers are the friendliest people.   Maybe that teacher will do it and we get these circles and it just goes out and then we have world peace.  Now, it may not happen in our lifetime, but if we do a good enough job it could happen. It could happen and ohhhhhhh what would that be?

 

Punctuality is tremendously important and we just have simple little things for punctuality.  When it is time to start, whenever that – let’s say 5:30 in the morning – anybody who comes in after that wears a weight belt for that session and it is just a simple diving weight belt with a 2 pound weight on it.  Now, we don’t tell them to put it on. They put it on because that is what they are supposed to do if they are tardy.  If we have to remind them; they add two pounds.  Now I don’t know if you have ever swum 6 or 7,000 yards with a two pound weight around your waist, but it is tough.  I don’t like for it to happen much because it really takes them out of their body line, but they are never late again, except about every five years you get one of these young men who need a lot of attention and they want to see how many weights they can put on there you know, but for most everybody, after one session or they just see their lane mate or see somebody on the team wearing that weight belt they just don’t want to be late. Almost any time that anybody wears a weight belt now it is because they had a flat tire you know, something like that that is unavoidable, but they still wear the weight belt because that is what you do.  It doesn’t make any difference why – that is what you do.  The only time that we give anybody concessions on that is during taper.  And if anybody happens to need to wear a late belt during taper we give them license to wear it later on – simple – very, very simple and guess what; no one is late.

 

In Texas, I know a lot of you don’t have an athletic period, but we have an athletic period.   With our boys, for example, it is 5th period, which is the middle of the day.  We have seven period days, so I have never really for years, ever had any problem with getting kids in the water. You know, every now and then you get a group where the chemistry is just a certain way.  I remember one day coming out, the bell was ringing.  I walked out and there were a bunch of boys standing there in their street clothes. I am normally pretty low key, but they pushed my button. As a coach, I yell once every 10 years, and I yelled – “what are you doing?”  They were standing there in their street clothes. They had not even gone to the locker room.  What can I do to change this?  It was really simple.  I said alright everybody needs to be on deck, dressed when the tardy bell rings. Some said, “Coach, I am way down at the other end of the school. I said find a way – find a way.  From that day forward they were there, on deck, girls too.   They are 7th period – 7th hour – they get dressed on deck.  Why hadn’t I done that the first 20 years?  It would have solved so many of those problems and if they are not on time, guess what, 25 pushups, pike-ups, whatever they decide it to be. They will come out and sometimes they will be a little bit late for some reason.

 

Now, if they come in there with an excuse from a teacher then that is alright – a written excuse, but otherwise, if we have to tell them then they do 50 of whatever.  We want them to take responsibility for doing that and we don’t have to tell them very often. The kids will tell them usually 25.  A lot of times we will do what we call power center training. It is all our ab work.  We have about 15 different exercises we do in ab work and they will be a little bit late to that but as soon as they finish that, they do not miss any of the ab work for it, but they do their 25 push-ups before we go down and do one of our other things, which are called lane cheers and lane cheers came from this fish video, and we like to have a very spirited team – a very supportive team, especially from the high school boys.   The girls do a good job, but generally, high school boys are a little bit reluctant because is not cool you know, to cheer for the team. It is not the thing to do, so we try to figure out a way to clear that up, to give them license.  From the fish video, one of the principals used to play and so we started. We had a little discussion one day and decided that we would do lane cheers which would be part of our play; play is not goofing off.

 

You know, play is positive, powerful, productive play – how about that?  That just came right out of my head.  Powerful, positive, productive play are the 4 P’s.  We decided that we would have lane cheers. The configuration of our pool is such that I meet them on the shallow end, but because of our blocks we had to move to the deep end, but there are diving boards and everything down there. There is not much room for team meetings and things so we start here so they have one minute from the time that I tell them what the first thing to do is to get down to the other end of the pool because we start every practice with a start. No one on our team ever says – we did not get a start practice.  If we practice three times a day, then they get three starts that day, minimum.

 

We want every practice start to be a quality meet start so from the time that I release them to go down, they have one minute to walk down and to do their lane cheer and then to begin to get started in a set.  Soon they learned they had to get their lane together on the way down and it had to be a different cheer every time.  They get their little group together and they get kind of excited about it , while walking down the pool trying to decide what their lane cheer is going to be, so that they can get started in the thing.   Again, what it does is creates that habit.   It frees them up to cheer and to have fun.  In the first place some of the boy’s cheers were, you know, pretty bad.  The boys are in a lane by themselves and they work out together in the morning. The varsity boys and girls and then the JV boys and girls in the afternoon and the boys cheers at first were – sis, boom, bah, rah and you know, they would go into more detail and that kind of thing but, after a while they began to develop some good things.  The girls were over there and that kind of thing gets attention, which begins to spread.

 

You know, we are trying to create that environment where champions are inevitable and to enjoy it as we do it.  We have a lot of team cheers.  At the pot luck Wednesday night they have a new piece to the cheer.  We always do a thing called hey lane and a lot of you do these kind of things like, “hey lane 6 – be aggressive, ugh.”  Well the seniors said, we have added one thing to it, so now they have added a hip thrust to it.   Now they all stand up and they will say “hey lane 6 – be aggressive ugh!”   We try to do that at all of our big meets, while dual meets are kind of difficult, but all of the invitational and things are like that.  We want people to be engaged with their teammates.   For us, when you are on the blocks you know that there are 39 – we have usually 20 boys varsity and 20 girls varsity – give or take a few, that are right on those blocks with them.  They need to know that this is a group activity.  This is a team activity and all of them are lending their energy to you to do a good job.  We have a tradition of always asking for more.  Whatever the coach tells them – always ask for more!   If I say go ten 200’s on 3 minutes – they say “Oh, coach, lets do 12” and usually I will say “Oh no, we are just going to do 10 today,” but every now and then, just to keep it honest, say “Oh that’s a good idea!  Let’s go ahead and do 12.”  Now what does this do to the mind set?  They are asking for 12 and you say no, only 10.  Is there a different attitude involved going into this activity?  See, we don’t have any want to’s – everything is choose to’s. Everything we do is choose to’s.  We get to “Oh you mean we get to do 12 today?”  When I say to them, “well, okay we will do 12.”  “You mean – we get to do 12?”  “Yes.”  “Oh thank you coach.”  Is that small?  But it is giant guys – I promise you – it is a giant thing.

 

How we choose our captains is different. Leadership is one of our goals, and in developing leadership we choose our captains, unlike most people, at the end of the season.  Being a captain is an honor that is bestowed by the team, not by the coaches, at the end of the season to those people who have shown the best leadership.   Our goal is to get everybody trying to develop leadership capacity.  I remember one year, years ago, when I was at Clear Lake, I came to school one morning and one of the coaches walked up and says, “have you seen all these posters around the school?”   I said no.  The juniors had put Junior Swimmers Rule! Oh, this was back in the 80’s when ruling was the big thing.  They had put, I’ll bet, probably three or four dozen posters.  They were going to be the leaders.  They were going to show those seniors who could be the leaders.  So there was a nice healthy relationship to develop leadership and to head people in the right direction.  As seniors, they are given a lot of responsibility to accomplish.  They do the pot luck, the banquet, the T-shirts, choose the T-shirts, collect the money, and they choose the teams for the inter-squad.  They are the leaders.

 

We give them those responsibilities.  I was just by there visiting the other day and one of the little girls, who was a senior, came up to me.   I said, “well how is it going Emily?” and She says, “oh, it is really going well.”  I returned with “How do you like being a senior?”  She said “oh my gosh coach, it is a lot of responsibility.  Yes it is!  That is one of the greatest things we could help them develop is that sense of responsibility and that these things need to be done.  I don’t do all of that.  I don’t want the parents to do all of that.  I want them to do it.  I want them to develop that sense of responsibility.  That again, buys in and goes into ownership.  We have some toll roads in Houston.  We have an honorary position called the toll meister and when we are on a toll road, the toll meister goes back through the school bus and collects funds for the tolls. That is a very honorable position which someone usually keeps for about three years.  Usually a senior will bestow it on a freshman.  It is done with great honor.  When they become the toll meister, they take that to mom and say, “I am the toll meister.” “What is that son?”  But you know, they develop a sense that it is a really important thing and kind of vie for that position.

 

When we give out our caps, our team caps, we do it like we are knighting them.  They all come up to the front.   We’ll sit and we will put a kickboard right here in front and they will come up and get down on one knee and bow their head.  We take their cap and touch it to their right shoulder, to the top of their head, and to their left shoulder and say, “may the speed be with you.”   No one gets a team cap without being knighted. That is a tradition.  I had forgotten that one.  We have a – Every fall, right after we have our try-outs, we have on the next Saturday after try-outs for the teams are determined, we have a pool improvement session.  We come in,  we paint, we do all kinds of stuff.  Our school district is not very good, they would love to hear me say this, with maintenance and things.  Another one of our traditions is this is my pool too.

 

When I first went to Kingwood High school, it was kind of dirty, an old pool.  We called it the pit or something? There was a name for it.  I don’t remember what it was, but it was bad, so the first thing we started was that every group tries to leave it better than they found it.  So every fall we have some kind of pool improvement.  It is not compulsory, but we will have you know, we will have 50 kids there and parents come in to help and then they go out and get pizza.  It is a big, big thing, and it gives them ownership.  So when someone is in there throwing something on the deck, they say, “this is my pool too, take a little pride in our environment.”

 

We have girls do a freshmen kidnapping.  The girls call the parents of the freshmen girls the night before and tell them they are going to come by, a lot of you probably do this, and kidnap them at 3 o’clock in the morning or something all go out and have breakfast. They always make sure that the parents have approved so it is not hazing.  They also make sure that they have something that they are wearing which is presentable to go either to someone’s house or sometimes they go to a restaurant.  It is different from year to year, but again, it pulls and we try to have traditions met.

 

We have about 80 swimmers and divers.  On trips, we have about 20 boys, 20 girls. Varsity = 20 boys, 20 girls, JV for swimmers and then we usually take anywhere from 1 to 15 divers and usually six or eight managers, but what we do is we try to get all of them crossing paths at some point so that everybody feels like they are a part of the family.  It is not JV and Varsity, it is Kingwood Swimmers and Divers.  We are all together.  These are representing us in the JV competition and these are representing us at the varsity level, but we are all in the same family.

 

“The curb” is one that every time the bus pulls out, my assistant usually drives the bus,  (I will drive one about once or twice a year when we take two bus loads) and we hit a curb pulling out of the parking lot and the kids start screaming – the whole bus starts going – Curb – Curb – Curb and he hits that curb and the bus almost turns over and NOOOOO and everybody goes crazy and that is just part of good luck – just a little bitty thing.  Every year at the state meet the girls always you know, get boy’s shorts – I am going to kill myself up here – get boy’s shorts and they put all this paint on them and everything – you know, boys’ underwear and they wear them.  Do you have girls that do that?

 

One of the big things that they do anyway before the state meet is called a butt shot.   I don’t even remember how it started, but it has been going on for a long time.  Every year the girls who go to state – one of our traditions is we eat our pre-meet – prelim meal at a place called Luby’s which is a cafeteria and so everybody can get what they need.  Well, there is a certain place at this Luby’s cafeteria where they will go out and they have these shorts on and bend over and take a shot of their butt.  I have probably, gosh, 25 pictures of girls butts.   You know, some of them are wide angles, because there are a lot of girls.  These girls are not wide angles, but you know, sometimes we have a lot of seniors or a lot of people at State and you know, hopefully we got 15 or 20 there.  I am about out of time.  I will tell you what – let me – I will stop this – oh, one of the big things I think is the C work.

 

The worst curse word in the world is can’t because it is limiting.  So, of course we have no cursing and if anybody curses again that is 25 push-                                                         ups, pike-ups whatever. The coaches should not have to ever mention it.  You know as well as I do there are some kids who think it is cute and then there are others who that is what is done in their household.  We try to develop a change in attitude there and we do it through the kids.  If somebody says the C-word, that is 25 push-ups.  If it is in a cafeteria line, they do it right there.  At the pot luck the other night one of the seniors as a demonstration, came up and said “well, we want to do this, but we can’t.”  The other entire senior group go ohhhhhhh C-word, so he does 25 push-ups there in front of the whole audience, just to kind of show how it is done, but develop a spirit of limitlessness.

 

The only limits we have are self imposed.  Guys, what we were doing 25 years ago – you look back and say – and some of those times were pretty good.  You look back and the progression of records and things like that, what are we capable of, what can we do?   If we can communicate to the people and through the athletes that we work with a spirit of limitlessness, there are no limits.  When I first went to Kingwood High School I didn’t realize this until the end of the season, but I went in and I was talking to them about national rankings.  We always look at Swimming World, you know, their mythical championship thing.  I started talking to them about national ranking at the banquet that spring.  I didn’t realize it, but they said one of the seniors was up there talking because the seniors do everything, they introduce all the kids and they do everything.  They said we really thought this man was crazy because during his seasonal summation, he talked about these rankings.  We really thought this man was out of his skull because he came in here and at our first team meeting he started talking about National Rankings.  The highest we had ever done was a District Championship. We had never even won.  In Texas we have a District, Regional and State.  The second year I was there they won the mythical national championship.  It didn’t have much to do with me, it had to do with freeing them to understand what the possibilities were and these were kids that were really hungry and some pretty good athletes as well.  It freed them and then they went bang, bang, bang, they won 2 ½ in a row tying for one of them, but that feeling of limitlessness.  There are no limits to what we can do, but who is it up to?

 

Going back to that little thing that we did at the beginning of the season, whose responsibility is it?  It is ours.  We take ownership in it.  I will be glad to take any questions that anybody has and if not, I appreciate it. Thank you very much.  I have about a hundred more, but that is time.  Thank you.  I have a question, what is the name of that fish market?  Fish and then their second one is fish something else – fish – it’s not fish fry – but it is the Pike Place Fish Market.  If you will go on the internet and put in Google Pike Place Fish Market, you can get all the information you want.  Yes, you take steps from the beginning of try-outs to that point to help them understand that what we are doing is serious and usually by that time, I think, the guys that I have competed with and against and everything – can tell you my kids are pretty serious about it.  I mean, we have a lot of fun doing it, but they don’t want to have a joker as a Captain. It is a privilege!  It is after we have completed everything and they understand that it is a privilege.  Now every now and then on the JV team, because there are a lot of freshmen on the JV, it may be a little bit more that way because they haven’t really come to understand yet .  For some of these young people, this is by far a totally different way of looking at things.

 

I mean, you know, my thing is that by changing a person’s attitude, you can change their lives.  That is what we are trying to do.  Whatever kind of attitude they come in with, we want to have a very powerful, positive, productive whatever else it was, influence on them.  November the 13th,  the swimmers that I coached at Clear Lake high school (I have been gone from there for 13 years), are having a reunion.  They are doing everything, like they did in school.  I coached there from 1972 really until 1991and they are having a second reunion.  They had one the first year that I was gone, about 11 or 12 years ago, but one of them called and said “coach, can we have another?”  I said great!  That is a great young lady who is doing it. I got an email from her the other day saying she has contacted 398 people and still has 168 left on her list.  She doesn’t know where they are, but she is still working on it.

 

What does that say about these people?!  One of my goals as a coach has always been to give athletes an experience they will never forget, a positive experience.  I can look back on some of the coaches I had and think, oh my gosh,  I will never forget that guy!  I would like for them to leave high school and when they are 40 years old tell their kids the kind of atmosphere they had in their high school swimming program. That has always been one of my goals that kind of motivated whatever I did.  Whatever I tried to do was to give them a positive experience, no matter what kind of swimmer they were.  We could help them be the best person they could be and improve their swimming. It is amazing that as you do more the other comes along – it is just amazing!

 

Any other questions?  Ah, I am not sure that I exactly understood your question, but the ones who are not AT students you are talking about?  Oh, they do a lot of tutoring together – the kids that are better students help the younger students.  The kids that are having problems, I usually talk to them.  When we get our grade reports I go around and talk to the kids individually who have anything below a D so it is like a 75 or something?  And I definitely talk to anybody who might have an F.  Out of our program, we have approximately 100 kids you know, we may have some and it is usually at the beginning of the first year.   We will have some freshmen and then we may have one or two, but grades are usually not a real big problem, but improving grades can be.  We have helpers.  If somebody is having a problem with math, I say, “hey you know Charlie over there, he is really good at math.  Why don’t you talk with Charlie?  I’ll bet he will help you.”  They love to do that.  I mean, people love to help each other.  I mean, when you were in high school in English class and someone was up there reciting the poem got locked and couldn’t think of it – didn’t you sit there and want to say and tell them the next line.  I mean, people want to help each other, so give them that opportunity and they will.  Now you have developed a relationship and here this kid who is a freshman is having trouble with math and this All – American is helping him.  I mean, that creates a great cohesive unit.  Anybody else?  I appreciate it very much.

 

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