How USA Swimming Can Help with Diversity on Your Team by Ben Sheppard (2010)


Published


This is the photo that is from about a week ago. This is the Junior Pan Pacs; this is the best 18&Unders in the world. And this is the 400 Free Relay. They won and broke the record. If you’ll notice there’s not one Caucasian on the relay. Yeah, I mean it. It’s not by design; it’s just the way it is. The face of the sport is changing. The face of the world is changing, and whether you like it or not. And I thought this was pretty cool. From left to right – Jasmine Tosky, swims in Palo Alto; Leanne Neil, who might be the highest profile swims in Manhattan—she’s been called ‘The Female Tiger Woods’ of swimming; Chelsea Chenault, who is from Concord; and then Madeline Schaefer, is the fourth girl. Three of these were Junior National champions. There were times they were fast enough at 16, they would have made the Pan Pac team—had they done it at Nationals. So those people do swim. This is taken off the internet. I hope it’s accurate. The point is the same.

2008 where we are now, this is America 66% Caucasian basically, 15% Hispanic Latino, 14% African-American and we’re at about 4% Asian. This is the projections to 2050 which really isn’t that far away if you think back 40 years of 1970. So if you look ahead, it’s just like looking back to 1970. You can see already the drastic difference that this nation is undergoing. So again the face is changing whether we like it or not. I went back to 1960 so this is just illustrating the same trend. There was 85% so we’re already, you know, this is just changing fast. If you look even at a bigger percent of the children would be over 62% will be minorities in 2050. So that’s obviously not a minority anymore, as well as the population growth. So not only is the percentage growing but the numbers are growing along with it. So if you can put two and two together it basically tells you that this is a smart business strategy. It’s also just happening around you whether you like it or not.

This is USA Swimming currently. I didn’t do projections but as you can see there is a big discrepancy between the rest of the country and the swimming world. I just saw this just in case nobody believes me still. Let me see if it works. That’s from Harvard, so Harvard Business School. I won’t read it to you but you get the point. You get the point. Back to our mission- we want to build the pace. Here we are, I’m going to introduce them in a second but here we are as a team trying to figure out how to make an impact on USA Swimming and how to make an impact on these numbers, these membership numbers. And we still go back to our core objectives. It’s not a side part of what we do. It’s a core part of what USA Swimming does.

We obviously want to increase the number of swim teams and programs that are, you know, of all ethnicities and all socio-economic groups. The number of new coaches as you can see at this clinic diversity is still missing, you know. I mean there is some more than…I’ve seen more over the years. That I’ve been here with only five years I do see more but it’s still lacking and we want obviously a lot more athletes. Not just to win medals but that’s nice too. We want people to share this sport. We want to open up this sport. We obviously want to promote it and that’s this is part of what we’re trying to do. This is part of it, all 18 of you. Increase the notoriety of swimming in new communities, promote our values which we all share, which are really positive for any kid and just continue to spread the message that swimming is not only a life saver but it’s a fun thing to do. It has a lot of positive impact on life and obviously we want to achieve success. We want these kids to be able to win medals. Just like I shared in my last talk, I want my kids to be successful as they want to be and I want every kid to have that opportunity to stand on the podium at international meet with a gold medal around their neck regardless of where they come from and who their parents are.

So in building the pace just going to go through a few other things that USA Swimming is doing and some of you know about most of this. But the ‘Make a splash’ program is something that’s emerged over the last few years and it’s kind of, spreading like wild flare and I kind of, just stole this. I won’t bore you will all of it but Make Splash is ultimately an initiative that’s aimed at reducing drowning and increasing diversity. There are…let’s see here I just want to show you this. There are and this is… the numbers have even gone up a lot since this. But there are 239 local partner programs currently in 43 different states. 400,000 kids have taken lessons through Make a Splash. You know obviously that’s a lot and this number 17,000 I think it’s something like 40,000 now have got scholarships because of Make-a-Splash. I don’t know exactly what the number is but I just got an email yesterday that it’s like double that. So they’re just tracking all these information obviously with over 250 groups it takes a lot of work and Kim Homes O’Shea does a lot of that at USA Swimming. It’s a program…my program is a partner, finally and it’s basically again it’s another avenue to promote water safety and to promote getting in the water and to promote being a part of the sport. And it’s an entry way for kids who otherwise and parents who otherwise may not ever choose to join.

You may or may not have heard of the study that was done at the University of Memphis but it basically was a full scale study where they established that something like 60% of Blacks and Latinos Hispanics do not know how to swim. And that drowning is three times as likely, you know, am preaching to the choir but I just…it’s an epidemic. Even the public health what do you call, the CDCs – Centre for Disease Control has basically listed it as an epidemic, drowning and children. So this Make-a-Splash works with whomever – government programs, VICE, USA swim teams, Break department to really try to compact that. And part of the study, the qualitative part of the study spoke to a lot of the adult’s fears as a limiting factor to getting their kids involved and that’s part of what Make-a-Splash does too. It helps to sort to demystify the water and, you know, just get people in the water. Cullen Jones has obviously been the major spokesperson for this. He’s been travelling, drumming up support and getting kids involved. And this is just a picture from Houston when he did a talk. And this is part of the promotional peace. Again its baby steps and you can’t ever know what makes the difference in the end but all these media has been highlighting the research that’s been done by Memphis as well as the Make-a-Splash efforts and Cullen’s involvement. And as you can see CNN, CBS, HBO, you name it has recognized this as an epidemic and something that they want to help promote and help USA Swimming promote and hopefully we’re…not hopefully we’re definitely seeing movement and impact. This just says where Cullen is going this year, coming to Oakland. So that’s Make-a-Splash.

The other piece that we’ve really been pushing has been outreach membership. It’s been around for a long time. It’s basically a five dollar registration fee. Everybody has to register annually for USA Swimming but for people who…$55 is a large entry fee. I mean it’s a large registration fee they’ve made it available at five dollars. In some LSCs, it might be $7 but basically we’ve been working with all the LSCs to try to make sure that they know that it’s mandatory. I guess each LSC is allowed to decide how they determine who’s eligible but everyone is required to offer it. So if your LSC says we’re not they’re wrong.

And that’s another part of our efforts have been to create a chairperson in each LSC that is responsible for diversity, inclusion and outreach. And these point people are going to be liaisons for us at USA Swimming and liaisons for the clubs and the people trying to be involved. So again hopefully expand outreach memberships and just increase the impact that LSC has, like in Pacific Swimming, for example. I think also our LSC a model LSC. We have a diversity chair who sits on the board. It has a vote and he has a subcommittee of coaches and athletes from… Veronica’s even on that committee and we basically address any and everything we can around how to work with issues of inclusion.

I’ll just share a quick story. At our Junior Olympics there was a swimmer who had three teenage friends come to watch. And they happen to be African-American. An official cased them, you know, and ultimately called the police. What is the proper protocol? Well luckily for us we have a committee and we have a chairperson and we were able to actually really bash it out and figure out what we were suppose to do. And there was someone there who was responsible for contacting USA Swimming and figuring out the right course of action. And that’s just one small example of what that person might be able to do. But, you know, also we have our grant program and our committee decides who gets the grants. You know, we have… they’re doubling our amount of grants in Pacific swimming from 25,000 to 50,000. That’s a lot of money to be available to help promote these programs and that’s the type of thing that Pacific’s swimming is looking to do, is to be a model to other clubs. I know in a couple of LSCs if you have an outreach membership your club can be reimbursed for the outreach athlete’s meet fees. So there are just other avenues to support all of this effort.

Let’s see…I just print…I just copied this…I mean I just included this. You probably can’t really read it but it’s an example of a diversity chair’s job description for Potomac Valley. And basically this person has run water safety days and has helped facilitate new grants, has also promoted swimming within the Park and rec. They go to board meetings and like I said creating activities. In Potomac Valley they host the Black History Month Meet. Just developing… you’re developing projects short and long term and it’s going to be different in every area so this is obviously just geared towards Potomac Valley. But the point is there’s a lot that you can do within your LSC, whether or not your club is specifically diverse. Let’s see what I have here. At USA Swimming we have…. It’s kind of a neat thing that’s occurred. I mean I used to always bug USA Swimming about helping me and now I’m the one to bug or one of the ones to bug. Sue Anderson who introduced me… who over here is the Director of Programs and Services and as a major part of her job she helps us strategize and coordinate and as a resource to all of us as we try to really make movement, make ground. And she’s been a great help to me.

Manny Banks who’s not here… Manny is interesting because he’s not from a swimming background but he’s from a sports, pro sports promotion background. So we really work with Manny and he is the one who has put this… this is the USA Swimming website, here that I am showing you. So he works with Eric as well right there to do the website and to really focus on the diversity part of the website. And he also has just a lot of ideas and efforts that he’s looking to put in place in terms of promoting the sport beyond our own current, you know, bounded culture. So he’s gone to the Cinco de Mayo meet, I mean La Raza, you know… he basically reaches out to a lot of different community groups that represent different populations. Whether it’s the Native Americans or the Hispanic Latinos, obviously the urban league is spotlighted on our website currently. So just again to try to find ways to spread our message and promote our sport beyond people who are currently involved at the country club and at the local USA Swimming Club.

And then Shawn Anderson right here, he’s my partner in crime. We got hired the same time. He is… he went to Penn State, swam at Penn State, but he coaches now at Historical Black college Norfolk State. And he started a lessons program there, and he also was a co-founder of a non-profit diversity in aquatics. It’s a website. It’s a social networking website. So if you’re not currently a member, it’s a lot like Facebook or something but it’s for… it has a team that’s really diverse in Aquatics. There are a lot of resources there in terms of interviews, connecting to people. They try to keep it fresh and update materials. That’s one of his pieces and he kind of has been responsible for a lot more of what’s going on in East Coast, working with DC and this is obviously me. Let’s see here. I just wanted to share a few programs that since I’ve been a part of USA Swimming I’ve really looked at as other models. This is Sea Stars program here. They’re located at Pensacola, Florida. Robin Heller and her husband Chase are the co-founders. And this is a program that’s very unique in that it’s free and it’s basically for kids who have a reduced or free lunch and kids with special needs. So she’s… its like almost like a Mother Teresa type of effort. I mean I don’t want to go that far but this is a great program in Pensacola that’s been growing. And they work out at a Salvation Army pool and this is them after they just got a donation from Nike. This is another picture of them.

Three other programs I want to highlight just again as examples of people doing great work. SwimMAC Carolina… you probably know at least David Marsh, his name… he’s the CEO there. And he’s made it a priority as he’s gone back to club swimming and moved to Charlotte to take the great tradition and the hefty resources that SwimMAC has available and to expand it in to new populations. He has a team/league where Cullen Jones trains. They swim out of Johnson C. Smith, which is another historically black college in downtown Charlotte. And I went to visit them as a part of my work.

And I went to the coach’s meeting and I said, you know, “Do you guys know what the demographics of your city are?” And they said, “Well probably 65% white?” I said, “No, it’s 46% white. And do you know the demographics of your team?” “They’re like, 99% white.” And I didn’t say that as a critic; I said it more as a challenge and to present… like I said opportunity for their business to grow and I wanted to recognize them because already in six months they’ve taught hundreds of kids. And they opened up programs, they partnered with Windy as a corporate sponsor.

Let’s see here. They’ve really taken this mission to heart. They actually hired… I just wanted to show you the… this is again… this is them trying to promote what they’re doing and giving a corporate sponsor in who’s giving back to the sport and getting new people involved. I don’t know exactly the details of donation but I know that they sponsored Charlotte at a huge… The Ultraswim meet at a huge level. And this is just the ingenuity of the coach. But what that did, you know, they gave the prize pool to the winner but they also gave money to give swim lessons at like six different… in six different cities for I think sixteen weeks or ten weeks. And Wendy’s cosponsored it and they send their teamleague… I want to… it’s been too much time here… 7500 free swim lessons in North and South Carolina with this partnership with Wendy’s. See I mean this is just them putting their time in and making it happen. And again I won’t bore you here but you see that they had some forethought in media, you know, they’re connecting all the dots which is really what it takes for your team whether you are going for diversity or not. But it’s particularly if you’re looking to expand your market. Five YMCA’s, two park and recs and the Johnson C. Smith University and they were more then just getting them in the water. These were not just a one day clinic. These were meant to actually teach them how to swim. So just another example of… and they hired Amy Monroe who played basketball at Auburn one day. And Marsh was there and she’s an awesome woman who African-American and she is now their director of Community programs. So her sole job is to build and strategize for their club to really expand their programs in this direction. And she’s been given, you know, she’s been given basically a directive to do what she loves which is to get more people involved in the team and change the face of the sport in Charlotte.

The other program I want to highlight was Memphis. I got to go for an incredible event. Gil Stovall was an Olympian in 2008 and he’s from Memphis. Went to University of Georgia but he’s back in Memphis and his club is the Memphis Tiger Club. And Anthony Norris is a father, African-American father who has two young children and he never knew how to swim till he had a knee surgery when he was an adult and he couldn’t play basketball anymore. So they told him to get in the water and he didn’t know how to swim. So he just thought of it as, you know, “I got two young kids,” who at that time were not swimming, “We all ought to learn how to swim, you know, this is ridiculous.” He’s a lawyer, very successful business man but he basically after learning how to swim he got his kids involved and his kids have gone on to become, you know, great young swimmers who are super enthusiastic. And he realized that they were the only black people in the team and in the sport where they were. And Memphis is actually got a large… has a lot of diversity. So he’s created again with… he’s got hospital sponsors, he got insurance company, holiday inn, he got the support of the government officials and he’s got the city pools and the University of Memphis. They gave away like 16 weeks of free lessons. Again this is the second year they’ve done it and they culminate the 16 weeks with the… they call it the, ‘I have a Dream’ meet. And it’s a really informal, fun meet but all these officials and corporate sponsors and volunteers and I was able to be there for that. And Gil Stovall speaks and swims… they did like hour and a half clinic with all these great swimmers and then they did races. You know even half a lap with spotters kind of thing. So it was a really neat introduction to the sport and again it’s just someone have an ingenuity and effort and that’s going to change the face of the sport in Memphis.

And I also couldn’t go without mentioning Nadine who’s become a great friend of mine. Her two boys were the subject of a documentary that was filmed with part in the waters. Filmed with Cullen Jones and Ritzy Caria and it was basically about how these kids from inner city Boston were trying to be part of competitive swimming and they went to this… they travelled to this meet from their park and rec team and their eyes were opened to how fast people actually swim. And so they’ve tried to join a local club with mixed results. I’ll just leave it at that and she realized and took it upon herself that she needed to start her own club so kids that were like here sons would have the opportunity that her son didn’t ever really have. And now her son is one of her coaches and she’s got sail decks on board and she’s got, you know, she’s just working tirelessly to try to make this thing go. And she’s another example of how this sport is going to change, promoting the sport.

Let me see here. We do have a new section of the website which is Straight for Diversity and there’s, you know, let’s see here… I won’t show this yet but there’s, you know, we are able to keep video up of things that are happening. This is announcing an open water swim that the city of Detroit, their urban teams there put together for the first time. Again here you have the sample, LSC diversity chair position, and more information about that. The research study is there and this cultural piece which will be a lot of… the goal here is to keep it fresh and updated. So that as people join USA Swimming or like into USA Swimming there is something that links them to the sport and links them, you know, you go on the website… again, you know, five years ago you might not see any diversity. And now not only do you see diversity just throughout the site in terms of the images but you see a whole section dedicated to this much needed, you know, we really need to… after looking at our numbers we really need to focus and grow our membership this way. And then they outreach spotlight. Here he has an urban league and even down there is links to his site…Diversity in Aquatics.

Another project that’s born out of a mother [indiscernible] [00:27:32] losing her son to drowning. She started a project. This chart Shawn put together tells you about, this LSC outreach charge here tells about what LSC is. What each LSC is and is not doing. There’s even a manual here and then obviously the link to the team which I already showed you, just efforts to promote. And then even this commercial, let me see if this works. This was at MPC during pampacks and donations.

[Video] [00:28:06].

And they came to my pool for that and used some of the kids there- Dana Vollmer, Mac Rivers came and they… as you can see, you know, even in our messaging on a national television there’s efforts to just… it is America Swim team and we know what America’s looking like so our swim team looks like that too. I thought that was kind of neat. Our parents were obviously really proud. And for them again it’s just another validation and a feeling of being accepted in a part of it rather than some novel thing over here that’s kind of affiliated but kind of on our own. We don’t want to live on an island, you know, we want to be just in a group and just completely connected with the real thing here.

And the other part is the Bridge Building which is a lot of the work that I’ve been trying to do and Shawn’s been trying to do and Sue’s been trying to do. With you guys here and whoever that it’s trying to make something happen around diversity. A lot of cases where these people are swimming, these people, and those people where a lot of minorities are swimming isn’t USA Swimming yet; so still trying to reach beyond the borders of our USA Swimming clubs and to Park and Recs and to WISE and Boys and Girls clubs and really build bridges between USA Swimming and these other organizations. And obviously we want to achieve success. The biggest thing for me has been the realization that it… after ten years you’d think I would have known but it’s basically it’s about creating a culture which may sound cliché but it’s not at all. It’s basically creating a place and a mindset where swimming is a part of life whether you swim competitively or not. Every child needs to know how to swim no matter where you’re from or what it takes. And ultimately continue to create the culture where anyone can swim fast as well and it doesn’t matter where you’re from or what you look like or who you’re parents are or whether or not your parents can even swim. We’ve done coaches clinics so far. I’ll show you a piece of what they’ve been doing at Detroit. But Sue and Shawn and others have spent some time with the Detroit coaches in the inner-city. Rick Bishop and I went to Boston and put together a clinic for… I think we had about 16 of their park and rec coaches. We went through just basics of all four strokes, looked at video, and talked about drills, you know, just really trying to give them the information again so that where they’re reaching the kids that learn how to swim so that if they’ve wanted to join USA team they’re actually ready and capable.

And the other neat thing that we’ve been doing has been the Diversity Camps. They’ve had the national camp for several years now which is… it’s really fairly elite swimmer from within swimming at least from the minority populations. Veronica got to coach that one. It was pretty cool. It’s in Colorado Springs and they select 32 swimmers each year- 16 boys, 16 girls to come out and with Anthony Nesty as the head coach. And we had Nathan Adrian and Sabir Muhammad as athletes and for kids who really achieve at that I think it’s a minimum for a time. So kids who really achieve at that level, they can go be around kids just like them. And many a times they’re from diverse teams and many a times they’re not. They’re one of the only kids that look like them on their team. So they come to this camp and built that network… not only will help them in swimming but it’ll help us change the face of the sport as they go on to become coaches and leaders.

And I got to give Tony a big props and credit. Tony Young from Indiana, he works tirelessly with Pam Longdove from Illinois and others from the various LSCs of the central zone and they host it here in the Apelles two months ago, the first ever Zone diversity select camp. You know they have the zone select camps as a stepping stone to the national select camps. Well now he kind of paved the way for the zones to try to do that with the diversity theme and it was amazing. First of all for some of these kids to come swim at the IU, at the [indiscernible] [00:32:47] was awesome. They bonded in a heartbeat. They put together raps about swimming. They did video. They did art projects. They trained, you know, trained. Byron Davis came out and was a huge inspiration to these guys, giving them leadership training. They just had an awesome time and it’s the kind of thing that… again if you’re wondering what you can do even if your team isn’t diverse, well you can get involved on that level and help your LSC or help your zone and try to help. Again just built this culture and help change the face of the sport. I’ll go on here just to show this little video. As you can tell this is a little harder for me to talk about just because I’m new to it. Hopefully in five years this will be really quadrupled in terms of what’s happening. Hopefully this works. Oh no.

[Video] [00:33:55]

Cool. I actually noticed… one of the coaches, you saw Sue and Shawn in there and one of the coaches. Quinton who was talking and one of the swimmers who was swimming both made it to the Central Zone Camp. So it’s kind of neat to look back and see that all these network is actually really growing and it really is actually… we are actually having movement.

The meet grant pre is another thing I wanted to mention that. We’re kind of… I don’t know where we are with it exactly but the concept is that there has been this history of having different meets to highlight, you know, like Cinco de Mayo in San Antonio all they have a meet… they have a meet. The black history month meet has been around for like 20 years in DC. They have black heritage meet in North Carolina. We started our first year when we had… we basically call it ‘The Oakland Diversity Relays.’ The concept is to just link these meets together and kind of make it like a mini grant pre in terms of at least promotional efforts and highlighting on the website and making the kids feel like they’re part of something really special. And even if they are not able to go to the other meets, realize that they exist and that they are connected. And all this is to say that not only we’re trying to increase the numbers but we’re really trying to work all three of the objectives. You know, we want to build the base of swimmers. We want Make-a-Splash to have 500 thousand kids, a million kids, two million kids. We want everybody to learn how to swim and be water safe whether they join USA Swimming or not. We want to increase our number obviously of coaches, swimmers but… and we want to promote it through all of these various ways I’ve shared with you. But we also still, we still want… we are a success driven organization. You know, USA Swimming and the coach members, we really do all… I think we’re all here because we want to be better. We want to be great. We want to be excellent. We want our kids to improve not only as swimmers, as people and that’s going to lead to success in and out of water.

This last piece is a little trailer. Going around this year to these different programs like Detroit, like Boston and Memphis, you know, we can come in for a day and do a clinic or a week and do a series of clinics and they can take great notes and they can learn. But when we leave they’re still there left to give it to the kids. So i… you know, we all have agreed in figuring out what is the one way we can attack this and we decided that we needed a basic learn to swim DVD where the kids look just like the kids in these programs. So it’s not just a stiff, you know, stiff white guy, excuse me but, you know, just so that it’s a little accessible I should say. And they can identify a little more and at the same time you can actually learn and you can actually have something that can really improve your quality of coaching and improve your kid’s swimming abilities. So this is just a trailer. I think in October we’re sending it out to every… I think, can I say that? Yeah, every club in America is going to get this. It’s a joint production with ASCA and USA Swimming and actually two of my friends are great videographers so the footage is incredible. They’re way overqualified as far as video guys. One of them is Gary Hall’s younger brother Ridge and here I’ll just show you this.

Anyway, that’s just a trailer and again as you can see there are young kids. That kid doing the dolphin that’s six-years-old. There’s C, B, A Junior Olympic level kids. All ranges of kids, you know, [indiscernible] [00:44:39] kids and there’s a combination of guy and our coaches and it’s just something that we think is going to be really accessible. Like I know that if… when I was starting I got that DVD and I could give it to my kids, they would eat it up. My kids actually ate up doing it too. But that’s just an array, that’s just some of the things that we’re doing and it’s kind of neat to sit here and say it all because it’s actually a lot of work. There’s actually a lot going on that will impact and change the face of the sport.

Some of the goals for me at least, I’m still just trying to learn who’s doing what as I get around and meet people and see programs, figure out who’s really committed to this and who’s really buying in to the concept that our nation is changing and our sport is changing too. And people that are on the front edge of this are the people that I want to be working with and people who are committed to actually making it different. I’m trying to… like I said record and report some of the best practices as I showed today. We had SwimMAC, you know, Dave just walked in. We got SwimMAC, Memphis, Boston, some of what we are doing in Oakland obviously I’m proud of. And then continue to reassess and work with this team here to further develop our strategies. You know everywhere I go I’m an advocate for this whether I’m working or not and I am going to continue to be so and that’s just part of my ongoing goal. And one of the real basic things is to continue to establish and entrench this outreach membership and make sure that all the LSCs and all the clubs know that it’s available and make it available, so that we can really get kids involved early on at an entry level without making them pay an arm and a leg just to join the sport because that’s obviously going to be exclusive.

And lastly as I was talking about before, part of our team’s goals for the really short term is to make sure that every LSC is represented on the board by someone who’s really incharge of tackling these issues. And as I’ve talked there’s a whole array of issues that someone needs really to be the point person for and ultimately they can help develop a committee so that each local group can focus on what their issues are. One return obviously I want to see every child in America learn how to swim and I mean every child and ultimately like you saw with the picture from Junior Pan Pacs where not one Caucasian on the gold medal record say in relay, you know, that’s what’s happening. It’s happening and just to continue to see that happen at all levels. To have the Olympic team be… wouldn’t it be awesome to have the Olympic teams demographics represent our nation’s demographics; and I think that’s coming. It’s inevitable but we’re helping to push that forward sooner than later. And that’s like I say here the whole support as well I like to see the demographics of our membership reflect the demographics of the nation. Obviously some communities are more diverse than others but even still in those communities, is your team representing your community? And then I just put in here for me to remember… it’s one of my long term goals to remember this that Success is a piece of mind which is a direct result of the satisfaction in knowing that you did your best to become the best that you’re capable of becoming. And that’s really all that we can do and all that we can ask others to do and that I think is what this sport is about, that’s what’s coaching’s about and to me that’s what this effort is about too. So I think that’s it. Any questions?

[inaudible question from the audience]

[Sheppard]: What LSC? I’ll do my Mark Schubert: “What LSC?” But they’re not doing their work. They’re not doing their job. Yeah it’s really… the best thing about this… it’s really up to the, up to people and I mean I’m not saying that we don’t have stuff to share with you or whoever is in your LSC. I’m saying we do and we will and we will continue to do so but in each team and in each LSC it’s really going to be up to the people there… you go to do the work. I mean we can’t, you know.

[inaudible question from the audience]

[Sheppard]: Yeah, like on our website as I showed you there is a number of documents and links there including diversity chair job description… I mean like I told you that’s for Potomac Valley, they’re going to have their issues, their community, they’re going to have their… but there’s some stuff there that can be borrowed from and you’re going to have to figure out if person is doing the work or not and if not then ultimately move along, next.

[inaudible question from the audience]

[Sheppard]: Yeah, absolutely and as I said one of our short term goals. By short term I mean immediate goals has been to really figure out who all these people are that are saying they’re doing this job and really evaluate what are they doing and then kind of cross pollinate and maybe even make change. You know, that’s inevitable as well. Tony.

[inaudible question from the audience]

[Sheppard]: Yeah, I think I do believe that all of the notes from the presentation are on the website too. Any other questions, yes?

[inaudible question from the audience]

[Sheppard]: Right, right. I think there are two major issues with diversity effort. There is obviously the socio-economic barrier for some and it’s a cultural barrier as well. And you just need to be making sure you’re doing at least what you can on either side. And in the case of… some of these that did for free like at Mecklenburg, that is going to be their challenge. The first step is to make sure people know how to swim. That should almost be… I mean not should be free but if money is a barrier we need to figure out how to get that barrier out. Now if you’re going to be on any year round enrichment, Life enrichment program whether it’s math or swimming or gymnastics, it’s going to cost you some money and how that’s paid for is going to vary from team to team, from person to person. I will sit here and say that I do believe with a little extra effort and ingenuity there are ways to have some impact on the financial burdens. I don’t think by any means that I would advocate people paying everybody’s fees for the rest of their life. No way. You have to make it work as a business otherwise you won’t survive and it will be short lived. But it’s really going to vary from team to team and community to community how you make that work, you know, and each case is different. And when I speak with a team and a coach, we have a different conversation each time because it’s different. They have a different set of resources and a different set of barriers in each place and there’s no way, nobody has… especially this day and age no one has deep enough pockets to just pay for everybody’s programs everywhere. But there is a way to make it accessible and then again through a little ingenuity and extra effort you can make it work for everybody.

[inaudible question from the audience]

[Sheppard]: That would be up to you as well. I know in our case we don’t give anything for ‘free’ free. So if you’re outreach membership you’ve at least got to pay that membership. From there usually the most we give is 75% scholarship but we also have… we cover the cost of another insurance for our swim school as well, so in addition to being a registered USA swimmer we have another where we have to pay for each kid who is in the water.

[inaudible question from the audience]

[Sheppard]: Risk management… I don’t know, something with the… some… through USA Swimming; I mean, it’s basically… a risk management; is that what it is? Yeah. Someone does that.

[inaudible question from the audience]

[Sheppard]: And that’s even like $6, whether outreach or not.

[inaudible question from the audience]

[Sheppard]: Saran wrap. But, yeah, it’s a… that’s a real issue. It’s fine till they are twelve. Then middle school comes and boys and…

[inaudible question from the audience]

[Sheppard]: I don’t disagree. I mean, it…

[inaudible question from the audience]

[Sheppard]: It is a barrier particularly for the… obviously, for the African-American female it’s… I mean, I have people who literally… “I can swim today.” You know, they’ll be okay with it most of the time but then grandma’s coming to town or an event comes up and they’ve got to get their hair done, you know, at least a day or two in advance so they’re out of the water. So we do dryland but come Monday… I say, “But come Monday, you know, you’re not going to get to keep that for two weeks, you know, that is for special occasions.” And, you know, for some people it works and there have been some with whom it doesn’t, you know. One of my best girls who just… you know, she was on the track; she was on the zone team, you know, waiting for the Westerns and at 13 she dropped out of swimming and I think there are a variety of issues but I see her now; every time I see her, her hair is immaculate. And I know for a fact that when she thinks about going back to swimming she is thinking about how much she likes her hair. But I can’t… I don’t know what to do, you know.

[inaudible question from the audience]

[Sheppard]: Right, that’s Byron Davis’s coach, by the way… age group coach.

[inaudible question from the audience]

[Sheppard]: Yeah, this is new. These resources are not enough and it’s brand new. Yeah.

[inaudible question from the audience]

[Sheppard]: Yeah, you’re right. And I do want to argue again, that it’s… or just say again that I think that there is more than just a social-economic barrier, and that’s the part that, to me, still has to come first. Because if it’s a cultural problem where someone is paying- I have kids who pay; they’ve learned to swim, they’re competitive, they make the zone team, they’re at the All Star Meet, they’re on the A-relay and the anchor is racist. That’s the barrier- they quit, you know, and that’s something that we can absolutely address and absolutely change, and immediately. And it’s still a problem. If we have a JL meet and a kid wants to bring his high school black friends to come watch and an official calls the cops… this year in California that’s something we can fix. And, you know, those four boys who were on that video I showed you, those four… the two brothers and two brothers, their parents are doctors. They were track stars at UCLA and basketball at Stanford. So I’m not saying that we don’t want to address the homeless or the socioeconomic but I want to say there are both, you know, and you can do your part in one or the other, or both; and both are necessary.

[inaudible question from the audience]

[Sheppard]: Right. Yeah. If that happens on our team you’re off, you’re out. You’re out. I mean, again, that’s the personality of the coach and the team and the policies that you set in place. It’s nobody’s business except ours. And even internally, if we make a decision and someone… that doesn’t exist. And that’s just… again, that’s the cultural piece. You know, it doesn’t include the economics of it but it’s still a cultural thing, you know, which we can eliminate, you know. And I would challenge that the cultural barrier is going to be the hardest; that’s going to be the hardest.

[inaudible question from the audience]

[Sheppard]: I don’t think that could change in terms of that… you know, just… in what I’ve been able to speak to Chuck and Debbi I think a lot of the mission just stays the same. I think, some of the structure around how they do it. I think what they really… I think the biggest difference that I know of is that they took away the Foundation Board because it was sort of, ineffective and so they made… and that’s not for anybody, it’s just to say that they… so they just kept it as a part of what is already happening even though it has it’s own, you know, separate mission. So I think that’s the biggest change, and they obviously got a new person. But I know that, you know… I know Martha and Kristen Louis who are doing the efforts; they’re still doing all… sending out the mailers, organizing for Golden Goggles and all of it is to… you know; with Make-a-Splash as still the… you know. Make-a-Splash Nation is the thrust of the fund raising. Yeah?

[inaudible question from the audience]

[Sheppard]: To be determined, I think, or to be told later. Somebody knows, not me. Yeah. Any other questions?

[inaudible question from the audience]

[Sheppard]: Yeah, definitely. Come to think of it, having a constant fundraising part on the Diversity page with resources would be really fruitful, I think; you’re right. Because that is going to be a key.

Every program, whether you are diverse or not, has to raise money; every school has to raise money. I mean, Harvard, the largest endowments… I mean, that’s what I tell people when they say: ‘How do you beg for money?’ And I say, “I’m just copying Havard; I’m copying Stanford. They have smart people, they’ve got the most money, and they ask for money all the time. They get money all the money.” So everybody asks for money. and that’s what non-profits are for. And you shouldn’t feel bad, as long as your mission is correct and true and you use it for what you say, and it really does have an alignment with, you know, good core values.

I just think every community is different in terms of where that could come from, you know. And sometimes it’s like sales. You might have ten people saying, “No” and then one person says, “Yes.” And in fund raising, and just as a side note, I had a fund raising consultant who once told me that when she is undergoing a major fund raising campaign the first question she asks everybody involved when they meet is, “How many no-s; how many no-s did you get?” She measures the success of the effort by the amount of no-s because it means you’ve asked them, the amount of people, and that is the sad, sorry, boring, frustrating truth that I deal with. And then somebody gives you a big one this year, a big one the next year and then nothing the next year. So you built a budget around… you know, and that’s the challenge but that’s also what makes it possible for the kids. You know, I mean, we do swim-a-thons, car wash, we sell apparel for profit that goes back, you know, we do… our swim school is obviously a part of the model; it’s just by hook-and-crook gather pennies. You don’t have a question? No? Anybody? Great, awesome. Thank you, guys.

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