First Year in a New Position: Creating Major Change by Carol Capitani, University of Texas (2013)


Published


[introduction by Bud McAllister]

I have the pleasure to introduce to our next speaker, Carol Capitani.  I think there are some people that you just know are going to be successful in life no matter what they choose to do, and that is because of their attitude and their personality.  And I think Carol is one of those people.  I knew a long time ago Carol was going to be successful as a coach, and that one day she would be a head coach at a major college, and here she is today.  I have known Carol a long time.  I coached her when she was 13, when I was coaching at Mission Viejo a few years ago in 1984.  And since then, I have followed her career closely, both as a swimmer and as a coach.  She went to Cal—did very well there—and then went on into coaching and had 14 very successful years with Georgia, helping them stay the power house that they are.  Now she is the Head Women’s Coach at Texas, and she is here to talk about her first year.  Thank you.

 

 

[Capitani begins]

Thank you; good morning.  A year ago John Leonard asked me to come back this year and talk about my first year in Texas; just how the year went and our successes and everything else.  Because of that, that sort of put me in a tailspin all year, thinking about this talk.  And also thinking about the talk, a lot of people advised me: oh you have to start off your talk with a joke.  And in real life, for those of you who know me, I do not tell jokes; I am not really that funny.  So I am just going to start in the beginning with my interview at Texas.

 

So they brought me out; it was May of 2012.  Flew me into Austin, and I was there about an hour and then was taken to this fancy steak restaurant downtown.  We go into a private room, big table, all these important people there: head coaches, the A.D. [Athletic Director] and some other people who were part of the hiring process. And things are going along pretty unthreateningly, smooth, and we are making chit-chat.  And then someone asked me, they said, “So, Carol, if you were hired to be the head coach at Texas, how long do you think it will take to win a national championship?” And I am like wait; I mean, we have not even gotten to the appetizers yet.  We have not even started.

 

And I am thinking: I was part of a program that won some national championships, and there are a lot of damn-good coaches out there that I would have to compete against to win a national championship.  And I have been following, I have been in Swimming for a really long time, and I know, and even in the past 20 years, how hard it is.  Because it takes time to foster the relationships, and it takes time to build that winning culture, and it takes a lot of support from people who care a lot about that process and about that experience.  And I am… I did not say all this—because I cannot think that fast on my feet.  But I was really nervous, and so I said, “Well, I think if you’re looking like at a timeline or you need me to make some sort of promise on when I could deliver that, I don’t think I’m the person you’re looking for.”  You know and then the interview went on.

 

And I guess, in the end, I am the person they were looking because they hired me.  So I think the challenge of my first year, and like my ongoing challenge, will be is: they did not just hire me and say, “Oh it’s okay, just take your time you can do whatever you want.”  And they did not drop their expectations and I did not drop my expectations.  Because I think, honestly, what is everybody… everybody is in the sport for different reasons, but I think at some point we are in the sport to help swimmers do some amazing things, to swim really fast and to have a great experience.  But it is about winning; part of it is about winning.

 

And so my challenge is really, is like how to… I felt it this year a lot.  And what I am going to talk about today is how to create change, and how to foster those relationships and build a culture but then just make it happen a little but faster.  And so, there you go.

 

So to start: how do you do that?  In the beginning I really needed to focus on the relationships.  So before I would even got to Texas, I still had to finish-up my job at Georgia and move forward.  I thought I really need something to get the girls all together.  Alright?  And to kind of unify them behind an idea.  I was an English major and got my Masters in English, and so I thought, okay, I am going to get them the idea behind a story.  So I wrote them an email.  I do not know really their names, I do not know their faces; I can barely—and for real—like just concentrate on my own team.  So I pay attention to other teams, but it is hard for me to like really know a lot of other swimmers.  And so this is all brand new.

 

So before I even know them, I send them an email.  And I said, Hi, I’m Carol. I’m really excited to come to Texas, and I’m looking forward to getting to know you all.  And then I said, Well,—and I believe this is true and I hope you guys do too but—I honestly believe that there’s very few times in life you get to wipe the slate clean and start over.  Or really kind of change your story, because it just takes some real concentrated thought and it takes a lot of effort, and it is scary.  And so I said, Look if you guys weren’t the hardest workers, if you are not the hardest worker, you can change that.  And if you weren’t the best student, then buck-up and think about being a better student.  Or if maybe you have not made the best decisions then, I don’t know about that.  Because I am going to come in without knowing all that.  I want you guys to think about your stories; and not just your stories for the end of the summer, but for the season ahead.  And I want you to give some thought to how you would write your own story, and how you want it to end, you know, just season-wise, because you’re allowed to change it.  And so I thought was really doing this great email, and I sent it.  And then I immediately regretted it, because I just thought: wait what am I doing here?

 

That next couple of weeks, I still do not know them.  I got a couple of responses, but not really what I was looking for.  And some people were really welcoming, some people I did not hear from—and that is fine.  And so I ended-up coming to Texas, flying in, moving my family.  And I come to my first practice, and two things happened that day.  I am going to talk about two things that are really kind of important to this talk when I look back over the year.

 

And one of those things, have the practice, get together with the girls; and it goes well, it goes fine.  And then after the practice, I said, “Well, let’s just go out; let’s go out to coffee.”  So we got to coffee and breakfast, and I sit with them.  And at the end of the breakfast, they give me this book [on slide].  And you… it is kind of a bad picture, so you can actually see almost the first page, if you can see that well—it is underneath the first page.  But in it were 24 pages of my team.  Not just like the girls that stayed for the summer—because some of them did not want to stay for the summer.  So maybe like 12 stayed, and then 12 they… somebody got them all together and they all, they made this book for me.  And they had a page of each person.  And in that on those pages, it had like their names, their family, where they are from, their club coach, their high school coach: you know, what they cared about.  They said why they came to Texas.  Why they chose Texas; what they loved about Texas.  Their favorite things to do outside of Swimming in Texas.  Their hobbies.  They gave me like—there was something kind of weird about, I do not know how to say it, it must have been directed—but there was something about like taper and how I taper; and I was like: oh huh that’s weird.  But it was at the end of the sheet.  And then they gave me like: if I were you and your family, this is what I would do this coming year.

 

And it was really touching; it was really neat.  Because I think this was actually in response to what I asked them to do.  And that really helped me because… like for example right, I went through this book.  And I had to go through it a lot, and I even kind of went through the book during the year, because you cannot just memorize like 24 kids and get to know them deeply like in one year: it takes a lot of time.  And of the 24 athletes I had, four had had parents die already in their lives—like had at least one parent die.  Some of the kids told me their parents got divorced; some kids told me like family situations.  They told me just like things about them that do not really come-up in normal conversation.  And that was a really great place from which to move forward, because that is the kind of stuff that takes a long time to get to know.

 

And so I thought that it was their effort to help me; and so then I had to help them a little bit and I had to let them get to know me on a real level.  I could not just like come-in and start coaching, because that baseline for coaching is about the relationships.  And so in that, it did not all go perfect.  Like how do I make this relationship go faster?  It is moving a little faster.  You know you have to have the culture in mind.  The culture that I had in mind moving towards had… I wanted it to have some patience in it and some kindness and resilience and grit.  And I wanted them to do these kind of hard things.  Because I think we all know that doing anything meaningful, anything worth doing, is going to be difficult.  And so I needed to have their buy-in to kind of move forward on this journey.

 

And so along those lines we are going to go forward, and I love this picture—a friend gave this to me.  And I kind of saw this process of moving forward in the year… I felt like I had just been given… maybe I just got back from the Home Depot or the nursery with like little seedlings or something.  Even though they saw themselves as these developed people; the way that I saw it is like: I have to hurry.  Like I came home and I planted, and you have all these little trees or little seedlings and then they needed to grow into something stronger.

 

And so moving forward to create this kind of culture, I had to take some risks and still continue to take risks during the year.  And it does not seem like a big race, maybe for you guys, but here is something I did that scared me.  When I got there, the practice times, in the morning okay, it was 6:00-8:00, three times a week.  And for a lot of reasons, I really wanted to change practice to 5:30, alright; for important reasons, not just like… for the whole team.

 

And then, I was like: oh I cannot change practice to 5:30 because, one I wanted to kind of be on the same schedule as the men.  I thought: oh that’s important, we need to all come in together, we need to be a team.  And then second part I thought: well, I do not want to make my assistant mad because he is not even a morning person anyway and he is going to be mad if I make him come in at 5:30.  And then I thought: well really, if I make practice at 5:30, the girls are not going to really like me; you know it is going to make it hard.  And then when I realized that maybe I was scared of all those things, that I had… that that was the real reason that I actually had to make it 5:30.  So I changed practice to 5:30 and it worked; I mean it worked fine.  They still maybe do not like me for it, but it is okay.

 

You know another thing that I… I laid down some pretty strong rules about some things which have some real consequences.  And that still scares me now; it scares me every time we have a team meeting.  It is because, yeah, I could lose some of my best swimmers over like some really bad decisions or something, and I had promise when I had come in to help them through these bad decisions.

 

But I think if you are trying to do something a little bit fas… I mean, if you just had like a family, and you know your family and you move forward, you have all that time to do it.  But like I felt that I had a responsibility.  I mean some of these kids were seniors, they only had a year; they only had a year to get something really great and magical out of the sport.  Or some people were juniors and they only had two years.  So I really wanted to kind of push this, but in a great way and in a safe way.  And so that is the philosophy behind that part.

 

And so not all this… when I say like stories, not like fairy tale stories; because obviously some things worked really well and some things did not work really well.  It is funny, sometimes…  I think we have all been in this situation.  There was this girl in December—one of our good sprinters—and I really had seen her make some strides.  She is a 50 girl and she really picked up a 100; and we were kind of just stretching her to be bigger.  And so we are coming into our biggest meet in December, and I have her come over and I think I am giving this really great motivational talk.  And I have got her right in front of me.

 

And I said, “Hey, you’re going to be our anchor on this 4×100 freestyle relay.  You’ve done it in practice, you’ve been amazing; I’ve seen your growth.  You’re just… you’re lighting it up and this is where you belong, you are the anchor.”  And she is like… she is almost in tears.  I am like wow, I am like really good you know.  And then she like looks at me and says, “Carol, you do not know me at all; I hate anchoring.”  And I was like: wait.  You know, things like that, just as much as people give me a book and it looks all perfect, but things like that really help me learn that sometimes we do not know what we are doing.  And I think that I am really doing my best coaching and I am helping people find out what is important; and she is like, No, we’re not even there yet; we’re not even close.  You do not get me, you do not know me.

 

But even I that dialog, in that confrontation, she had the guts to at least say like: hey you do not get it but now you do.  And so we had somewhere to move forward.  So there is a story.

 

And moving forward: so we are talking about relationships and bringing people together.  And this is the pool at Texas: probably a lot of you have been there.  Those are the national championships banners I have to see every day: there are nine on the women side.  I am following some pretty big names, I know.  But if you can see this pool, down at the other end—at the far end—that is where the men’s lockerroom is.  And the bottom left hand corner is where the women’s lockerroom is.  So I walk in kind of like over in the bottom, right-hand corner—these like side doors, okay?

 

So I walk in and it is my first practice.  This is the same first practice like that it went fine, I went to coffee after; but it is my first practice.  And I am so nervous.  Like I am excited—kind of like this speech—I was excited and I was nervous and I was happy.  And I am like this is… this is like a really seminal moment for me because this is the first day of my new career, and this is going to be pretty cool.  So I walk in.

 

But I know that maybe it has not been like super-friendly, alright?  And I know that like maybe the men and women have not gotten along that well.  And so I see Eddie [Reese, men’s coach at Texas] and I see my girls.  So I walk past my girls, and they are just kind of huddled like—I still do not know them, remember—I am like, hey, guys and I talk to them for a little bit.  And then Eddie walks down towards me and I walk towards Eddie, so end up saying hi.  And it is a big deal, and we meet kind of like where the bulkhead is on the left side [of the picture].  And he welcomes me and gives me a big hug, and we’re so glad you’re here and this is going to be really fun.

 

And I almost… I know what I have to do, and I almost walk away, because I am shaking.  And so I think: ‘Well you know what this, this thing is pretty important, but maybe I can just go take care of my team and then later I am going to work on like the bigger culture, alright?’  But then… I just somehow said, “Hey, Eddie wait.”  And Eddie goes, “What?”  I said (I get nervous even talking about it).  I said, “Wait, what’s the deal here.  Like can we swim on your side?  Can we start on your end?”  Because all the guys are like in their four lanes but on the other end of the pool.  And then he just looked at me, and he said, “Sure.”  And I was like yes!

 

But then I almost like… then I almost blew it, because then I said, “Well wait, wait, wait.  Eddie don’t just… I know this is my first practice and maybe you’re just trying to be nice to me, so I don’t mean just today, I mean like all the time.  So you can change your mind right now, but if you say ‘yes’, we’re just going to be down there all the time.”  And he said, “I really like that.”  And that, that part you think oh no big deal or whatever.  And really I thought, ‘What was I so scared of, like wooh, it’s going to be perfect.’  But it is not perfect; as everybody knows you just keep working towards it.

 

And so I go back to the girls, and I say, “Hey ladies.  Cool.  We’re just going to get our bags and start at that end.” [laughter]  And they were like: wait, what?  So some of them grab their bags, and then one girl goes, “Oh, just today?”  And I go, “Oh no, just like every day.  We’re just going to start together.”  So they followed me down there.  And that is another kind of leap of faith.

 

And it does not mean… like I am not… I really enjoy, and I have been part of, a combined culture, combined program, for my whole coaching career, for 15 years.  And I love it.  But I do not think there is much difference; I love just coaching a women’s team.  I am not trying to make like a big, mass team, and swim together all the time; the men’s swim in their lanes and the women swim in their lanes.  But I am also from, and I have been fortunate to be, part of a culture where I love going to work every day.  Like I laugh so hard every day.

 

And I worked with Jack and Harvey and Brian and Jerry [the staff at Georgia], and just some amazing people.  And I could not… sometimes I could not wait to get to work in the morning.  And I cannot imagine working in a place where I do not really look forward to spending time with some great people.  And I think: why would you guys be in it?  It is really hard to go to work every day if you do not really love the people with whom you work and care about.  And so I think this… I wanted to help bind everyone together again, and help the men and women just support each other in a normal way.  I mean I am grateful for the culture that I was a part of for so long, but I also feel that it is imperative that we… that in all of our work that we foster that.

 

Moving forward, I am really proud of the way we are working towards working together, and I do not think it was as easy for the men as it was for me or for my assistant—Roric [Fink] worked on a combined program for a long time.  So when we go to meets, the men actually traveled with us, we traveled together as a team, to race some other teams.  And we swam together, and it probably does not seem like a big deal.  But when somebody put this picture on my desk in January, it kind of made me believe like… I had to sign it and give it away or something.  And I thought: wait, maybe we are kind of doing things like right because they look happy and they look like they’re supporting each and that’s not manufactured, you know.  So I knew at least that the feeling was stronger.

 

And also, I think it is obvious, but if I am down there with Eddie and Kris [Kubik, men’s assistant] and I am with our diving coach, and we are all kind of working together, to me that is like the real coaching.  That is like, Hey, what’s up with their turns?  Can I go help that guy? or Hey, what are you guys doing today?  What’s working?  And then sometimes the practice falls apart; I am saying like, I do not even know what’s going on today with this team.  And that, to me, is like the learning part; that is the growth part.

 

And so the best instore is for a little bit.  And every day I have to look at this record board, and it is a good reminder of just kind of what is in front of me.  And there are some really amazing records; there are some World Records on the board—no pressure.  And there is this record—and I looked at that for two summers—the 800 Free Relay.  And I was getting the team ready this summer and the psych sheet comes out for US Open.  And I have looked at that record, and I thought, “Gosh, we should just get our team together.” Like that… no offense, because one of those girls [on the record relay] is an Olympian and one of them is on the National Team and they were like really fast in their own right at that time, but I was kind of tired of seeing that record.  And so I just got the psych sheet and we got our team together, and I said, “Hey let’s knock the crap out of that record; let’s get it off the board.”

 

So we got them all fired up and we talked about that.  And we looked at the psych sheet and the US Open Record was 8:07.  And I thought: Gosh, if were really put things together well we can really get this record.  And so right… Kris comes over after the girls get in—it is kind of taper-time, and they are really giddy and they are just like spazzy and so they get in.  And Kris comes over, the men’s assistant, he says, “What are you guys talking about?”  I was like, “Oh, we’re just talking about this record, and how we want to get rid of some records.” And he says “Okay.”  He goes back over.

 

And then fast forward: we are at US Open and we are getting ready.  And the reason why those US Open Records for relays they do not get broken that often is because no one stays to do them.  So the pool was kind of clearing out, and it is at the end of the meet.  And the girls are getting ready.  And not only is there a twenty-minute break after the last event, but then there is like a first heat; so it is a good half an hour away.  So I am getting the girls ready, and then Eddie walks up behind me.  And he said, “Carol,” and I turn around, and he said, “this better be fast.” [laughter] “Because we are all staying to watch it.” [laughter]  And I turn around, and the rest of the men’s team—they were like 15 guys—were there.  And Kris was there, and Eddie was there.  And all the kids, you know, started doing a cheer, and they cheered the entire 800.

 

And that… like if I could take my top-three moments of this year, that probably meant the most to me of just like… it does not mean we are doing it perfect, it just means that I think we are both working toward something that helps people be successful.  Because our relay—we went 8:00—so the relay would not have been that fast—I know it would not have been that fast—had we not had people feeling like they were one team.

 

And I do… I mean Eddie is not here but, I do feel like there was kind of a generosity; I think they stretched a little more that we had to stretch.  We wanted, obviously, to be part of a more successful culture, because they did not have to be part of our culture to win.  Like they already have a winning culture; like they won in 2010, they have been more consistent in winning.  And the last one the women won… and I hope you are understanding this talk.  We are not talking winning, we are just talking about culture being excellent.  And just, at least, creating the opportunity for that to happen.  And so… but ours, the last one was in ’91; so that is a longer time ago.  So that makes me… that makes me pretty happy.

(Alright.  I will just sneak ahead for a second.  Oh good.  Okay.  I have never done a PowerPoint, its going pretty well I think.)

 

So, obviously, I hope you feel that I do think it is really important to have support from your colleagues.  And I do feel pretty grateful that throughout the years, not just being at Georgia, but coming back and getting this position allowed kind of my slate to start clean—which is scary in itself.  But I did feel a lot of support from people in this room and from people outside this room, and that is kind of a neat community to be in in Swimming, when people want the best from each other.  Alright?  For most of the time.

 

And people did give me a lot of great advice, and I am going to share some of that advice in just a little bit because it is like re-gifting, right?  So I am going to ask you guys to do something because I think it is why we come to conferences.  I think we come to conferences to share stuff and meet and go out and to chit chat about stuff that like matters to you most, right?  So I want you to think about some advice that you have received that has really made a difference.  It can be recent, it can be old, it can something you live by, right? Or think about advice that somebody gave you that you were maybe like you did not take it, and now you kind of regret it because you wish you had taken their advice.  So think about that for a second.

 

And we are going to take three minutes.  And so I want you to get with somebody.  It is kind of like if you ever go to church—I go every once in a while—and my favorite part is called passing of the peace.  And you get to stand up and shake someone’s hand and look at them and say, “Peace be with you.” Alright.  That makes the whole thing worth it to me.  So it is kind of like coaching version of passing the peace.  So you just stand up and you introduce yourself to someone who maybe you do not know—so if you are sitting next to your friend, just like stretch a little bit and shake someone else’s hand.  And we will take three minutes, and you guys can just share like the coolest piece of advice or advice you did not take.  Okay, ready? Go.

 

[audience talking amongst itself]

 

Alright guys, you’re ready?  Shhh.  I think that was pretty fun, right?  Alright.  Thanks for doing that.  So… (this is kind of messed up now.)

 

I just liked how everybody just started talking immediately, like that was the most energy in the room.  So some advice that I received.  There was a lot of great advice, so I cannot name everyone.  But I think the part that has helped me the most this year is… even before I walked into that room… I remembered that interview and I walk into the room and I was so nervous.  And Eddie grabbed me by the elbow, and I said, “Eddie, I don’t know what they’re looking for; like I don’t know what they want.  Because I may not be their…,” I said, “this may not be even a good a fit.  I don’t really get what’s going to go on here.”  And he said, “Carol, just be yourself; and that’s the best you can do.”

 

And I think it sounds really simple, but it is something also that I have heard Teri McKeever talk about a lot in her talks and how she has been able to achieve the kind of success she has.  She says, Hey I just needed to learn to be myself, and to do things the way that I feel.  Because I do not think any of us can really coach from wanting to be like somebody else.  Like I cannot coach like Jack [Bauerle]; I definitely cannot coach like Harvey [Humphries], if you know Harvey.  But I can take like what I have learned from a million different people and try to do it my own way.  And hopefully that is what we are all here to do, is like learn these great things but then put them through our view and our filter and our experiences.  Because that is the only way you can do it; you cannot be someone else.

 

It is funny that Bud said—I do not even know if this is true but—I did not even want to be a swim coach.  I wanted to teach English, write stories, I do not know what I want to do; but it definitely was not be a swim coach.  Because at some point, even 10 years ago, I did not even know if I wanted to be a head coach because part of me did not think that I was head coach material—whatever that means. Because I thought that I had to be a different kind of person or carry myself in a different way or just like be more bossy—I am kind of bossy.  But I do not know, I just thought I had to be different.  And by watching some other people go through this process, it has given the confidence that I can really just, hopefully, do things in a great way, but do things in my way.

 

Some other great advice really.  It really is not advice, it is more like threats; but no, it is more like the truth, I guess.  And so something that drives me—that is hard to share but it is good—is that before I left Georgia, Jack said—and Jack is like you know, he is my work spouse for a long time and he is one of my best friends.  And he said, “You know, I’m really nervous about you taking this job because,”—my husband travels alright, so he is gone a lot and he is gone like Monday to Thursday a lot of the time.  And he said, “I just don’t want your children to be raised by absentee parents, and that makes me nervous for you.”  And it makes me nervous for me, you know.

 

That has helped me.  That is not advice—well it is kind of like a negative form of advice.  But it makes me think like on a day-to-day basis like: how can I do this really well?  And like: how can I make sure that I am taking care of the things that I need to?  Because I do not want to look back… I have actually heard talks at ASCA saying: Hey, knock it off.  Like go spend time with your family and do not ignore them for twenty years because all the success you get in the water is not worth losing your family over or losing your kids.  And so I give a though to that.  And I think it is important, whether you have a family, it is like your friends, or what makes your life your life, you know.

 

Matt gave me some advice and Eric Hansen, you know, like after the first year.  And they are like woo, great year and awesome job.  And they were like, “Hey,”—they both did not know they were telling me the same thin—and they both said, “your second year is harder.”  Which is not advice, either; it is more.  But it keeps me grounded and it keeps me realizing that like sometimes the art of coaching is in the struggles.  It is in the stories that are difficult that move us forward.  I do not think it is ever going to be easy, but… it is like that t-shirt like: I think it’s going to be worth it and why we’re here.

 

And the last piece of advice.  This is advice that a year ago—and you are probably are bored of hearing it because you have maybe heard it in a lot of talks.  But Gregg Troy, last summer when he was getting ready… you know Gregg and Teri both when they were getting ready to coach the Olympic team, they took me aside at one meet, and one had lunch with me and one took me out.  And they just said, “Hey, can I help you with anything?  Can I help you in anyway?”  And I said, Yeah, do you have any advice?  Like would you do anything different?  Like where did you screw up that… you know?  And both of them told me, in no uncertain terms, they said, “Look, if you want to stay in this sport for a long time—you’ve been in it for a long time, you want to keep moving forward—I would take a weekend off a month.  And I would just take Friday night off and Saturday morning off; and I would delegate because…,” you know, for a lot of reasons, not just because you’re lazy—you want to like go and mess around.  But they said, “Look it helps you give your assistances some accountability and some responsibility.  It lets your kids know that they can swim fast without you, right; without holding their hand.  It empowers the people underneath you, and it empowers the team.  It also kind of models the behavior,”—this is what I got from it, that it models the behavior—“that like those kids aren’t the center of the universe like they think they are but they’re not.”

 

And I think if they see me, or they you know see someone who does this on a regular basis, take time to do things.  You know, my assistant, he is not married, he does not have kids, but I still think it is important for him.  But guess what: I did not do it, because I didn’t.  Because I was too scared and because I felt like I had all this work to do.  And I even asked my assistant—and he failed—I said, “You need to hold me accountable to this and you need to do it too.”  And we both did not do it.  So, that is something I am working towards.  Like so maybe by telling you all, you can ask me sometime if I am doing it.  And maybe I will say yes—I do not know.  But I think in the long term… I think short term, did it kill me?  No, like I am alright.  But maybe long term it would have its residual effects.  So there you go.

 

Okay, we are talking about support, and this is my family.  And my husband on the left; he is Kevin, the one that I told you that travels.  He never thinks I thank him, so I am going to thank him and then I am going to show him the transcripts from this speech.  But no.  But I do believe we need the support of the people that care about us, and we need the support from the people that are in our lives or you cannot do it as well as you need to.  And we have talked a long time and about our different jobs.  And I followed my husband to Asia for two years for his work, and I thought I had fell off the face of the earth and I thought I had disappeared from Swimming.  But it did not end up that way.  And I could not coach as well as I do, and spend so much time investing in these relationships, if I did not feel like he had bought-into this as well.  Because he does feel that this kind of work is important to do.  And I am just grateful for it.

 

And on those same plains, we talk a lot about how we are selling this to my daughters, Tatum and Carmen—Carmen is 10, Tatum is 8.  Tatum can be bribed with like candy and money and a new bunk bed; and she is fine.  Like she will go… she will do anything.  But Carmen is a lot harder.  We had already picked-up our kids and moved to Asia, and we picked them back up and then we moved back to Athens [Georgia].  So they just finally felt settled and felt strong.  And so when I did get the job, I said hey….  Kevin said, “Let’s just tell them.”  And I said, “No, no, no, we’ve got to figure out a way to kind of sell this that is going to work, because it’s really, really important moving forward, I think.  Because this is a different deal; I’m not just an assistant; I have to run this and I have do it well.”

 

And so we thought long and hard, because I think… I think with anything, right, there is like a million ways to sell something, and all of it has truths in it. So instead of selling this idea of okay mommy is going to be the head coach of Texas, like we could have sold it from a place of like loss.  Like: Waah, we’re just leaving everything we care about, and all of these great relationships and great people.  And I know you’re settled in this and it’s going to be so hard, but we are going to deal with it and it’s going to be awesome in the end.  That is totally the truth, because there are some parts that still breaks my heart about people that I left and what we created there.  But at the same time, we knew it was going to be a great opportunity.  Like whether we do great or we fail at it, and we will learn something.

 

And so we brought our kids together, and I said hey, we are moving. No.  I said, “Hey, this is going to be a really…”, we talked about Texas.  And we kind of…  I had already accepted it, but I did not tell them that—so I guess we were lying a little bit.  But we said, Hey, what do you think about this job, and it is going to be a really neat opportunity and we want you to trust us.  And remember how scary it seemed moving to Asia, well this is going to be just like that.  But think how cool: you are going to have friends in Georgia and you are going to have friends in Texas.  And there are lot of things to do.  We sold it in a way, and said: look, this is going to be a really cool experience.  And if you trust us and we get through on the other side, like we promised you, you will be happy.  And if you are not, we will fix it.

 

So most of the time, it works.  Some of the times, they are just like normal kids and they are fighting us and they are not being great.  And most of the time, they have really brought-in.

 

But when I… something along the lines that showed me that we are moving in the right direction and it is working, when I was in Russia for World University Games this summer… this summer was a really busy summer.  And some of you guys might know that… I think traveling in the summer is like, for me, it is even harder during the summer than it is during the regular school year, alright.  Because there is just a lot of travel and a lot of stuff to do.  So I do not want to turn down this trip, because the trips are just the best time to like foster those kind of new relationships we were talking about.  And so I go on this trip, and I am trying to call my kids and Skype with them and FaceTime, and it is just really not working.  And I get this email from my daughter, the 10 year old.  And it is kind of funny because she is just like my little cheerleader.  But I think the best part of this is: Tell me about all the fascinating stories you’ve had in Russia.  I know each one will better and better.  I read it and I thought: okay, I have her buy-in.  Like I am doing the right thing, for now.  And I still probably need to see this, and keep working on it to make sure that I do feel my family support; otherwise it, it will not work very well.

 

And you might think that like: hey, what does this have to do with me?  But I think it really has everything to do with you guys.  Because like is that not what we are trying to do with our athletes?  Like put them through something that is frightening and unknown.  And you are saying like: hey, trust us and trust me and we will work hard and I am going to make you really uncomfortable a lot of the time, but then after we get through this together, on the other side that is where the opportunity exists to do like the magical things.  And do your real coaching and get them to be better.  And I think only from that place is the place where they achieve success like growth, personal growth the fast times and everything.

 

So thank you.  Thanks for giving me the opportunity to put my thoughts together and I appreciate it.  (So happy it is done.)  If you guys have any questions, I will answer any questions, yeah.

 

[inaudible question from the audience]

 

[Capitani]:  We talked about that this year.  And I asked the new people… I gave them back their letters and I asked the new people if they would help me.  Because this year, I still have 24 kids on the team, but I have 10 new people.  So I like your way of thinking, because we asked them to still… like either add to their story or help me learn who they are.  So thanks.

 

Are we good? All right, thank you.

 

 

##### end #####

Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Sponsorship & Partnerships

Official Sponsors and Partners of the American Swimming Coaches Association

Join Our Mailing List

Subscribe and get the latest Swimming Coach news