Means to Success Both In and Out of the Pool by Mike Curley (2008)


[Introduction by Bill Wadley] I am taking a moment to introduce to you one of my dear friends, who also was a former swimmer of mine. He was a Big 10 Champion in the 200 Individual Medley, Big 10 Record Holder, and also an NCAA All American in both the Individual Medley and the backstroke. He was the team captain of our team. Probably the greatest thing that I can tell you about Mike Curley – Coach Curley – is that he has a great drive and passion for competing and a great drive and passion for coaching. Mike was with me at Ohio State for my first four years at Ohio State and we had to transition the whole team. We sort of started from scratch and I remember his first day on the pool deck. We were all excited about getting this new team going. Mike was coming from the University of Iowa where he graduated and I coached him and he was used to saying, “Let’s go Hawks!” and, of course, at Ohio State we say, “Let’s go Bucs!” So, we are running up and down the pool deck trying to get these guys going – getting them encouraged and cheering them on. I am on the other side and Mike is on this side of the pool and Mike runs down the pool and he says, “Let’s go Hawks – I mean Bucs!” So, that was our first week or so on the job at Ohio State. I think you will enjoy Mike a ton and you will have a chance to learn a great deal from him. Mike, congratulations on a great career. He has been at Highland now for 16 years. 16 years now at Highland and he has taken the team really from scratch when he started the team to almost 220 kids now on the team. Just a ton of great knowledge to share and a lot of fun to work with and a lot of fun to coach with and a lot of fun to coach. Please welcome Coach Mike Curley.

Coach Curley: Thanks, Bill. Without making anybody feel too uncomfortable – please feel free to scoot up or maybe you are staying back there in case you can make a quick exit. After you hear how I kind of start this speech off, you might think that. I think the Clinic Gods are against me because my last speech last night, I had to follow the great Dick Shoulberg and then all of a sudden, I find out this morning that I am following Coach Shoulberg again. So, I am convinced that the Clinic Gods are against me – it is a pretty daunting task to follow somebody so successful.

It is a pleasure to be here. I look forward to talking to you guys, but I am kind of hoping in my hoping chest, here, that all of you guys were not here on Wednesday night. I say that because Coach Bob Bowman gave a tremendous speech about the traits he thinks very successful people possess. There were only 10 of them, alright. And all of a sudden I hear him speak on Wednesday and I am like – you have got to be kidding me.
So, my topic is thoughts on how to be successful both in and out of the pool. I do not possess the skills that Coach Gregg Troy has. He told us when he spoke that basically, he would walk in sometimes at practice and just scrap the whole workout. Then, all of a sudden he had to speak on Thursday morning and he didn’t like what he was going to talk about so he scrapped that. Well, I do not possess those skills so I am sticking to my guns. I am going to talk about these things and I guess my only solace that I have is of the 15 traits/thoughts that I think about what makes people successful– Bob, in his thoughts – 8 of his parallel and jive with mine, so I feel pretty good about that.

So, without further ado, I am going to give it my go. I will start off with something kind of humorous this morning on Saturday. I love these cartoons called “In the Bleachers”. I don’t know if you know – I have three boys and a wonderful wife, there she is handing out handouts. I have three boys and they are 15, 12 and 9 years old – super kids. They take after their mom and they look like their mom – thank the Lord. They do have a little bit of athletic talent like their dad. I have to catch myself sometimes and I catch these cartoons and it brings me back to earth. I see in my sons some of the traits that I possess, but I come up with these things for success because I am trying to help them. I am trying to help my kids. I am trying to become a better coach – more importantly – a better person and a better husband. I send things out all the time via email to educate parents and to educate kids and things like that. I am a voracious reader of the internet, of books. I read anything I can get my hands on and anything that is recommended to me and that is how I came up with these traits.

One more thing before we move on. I have a parent that is just a super photographer. She goes to all our high school meets and takes these shots (pictures) of these kids and it is an absolute pleasure. I consider it my gift at the end of the year to take all these pictures and compile them and make a video for the kids for high school and that is where these pictures came from – just to give you a little thing.

#1: Thought 1 – SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE: They establish a dream. They know what they want and they go after it. They have a plan. Know what you are going to do and how you are going to go about doing it before you begin. You must be explicit and establish specific goals. These goals need to be embedded in your mind and be willing to share these goals.

I believe somebody else talked about this the other night that some of the great swimmers – I think it was Ryan Lochte – Coach Troy said that Ryan did not like to write his goals down. Then, on the exact opposite – Michael Phelps wrote his goals down. I encourage and I believe very strongly that when you write something down, you are a little bit more committed. I think you should tell people about your goals, too. That is part of the commitment thing and when there is a chance that you might lose sight of your aspirations and your goals, having others involved helps you along the way. It keeps you motivated as well.

Thought #2: This young lady is on my high school team and it is a pleasure to coach her. She was 12 years old last year and at my school at Lake Highland Prep they allow 7th and 8th grade kids to participate on our varsity team – thank the Lord. This young lady was 12 years old – went 55:2 in the 100 fly and won the state high school meet as a 12 year old, as a 7th grader last year. She is a great athlete. I am a good coach, but sort of like Doc Rivers – everybody wanted to run Doc Rivers out of town in Boston, right? And then all of a sudden you get Kevin Garnett and a couple of other players and now, he is a great coach. Well, with athletes like this – they make you great coaches.

Thought #3: The entertainer, labeled Larry the Cable Guy, lives in Orlando. I have had the privilege of running into him a couple of times because one of the people that runs our swim lesson program is his au pair and house-sitter. So, this one is called “get her done.” Stick your neck out for your goal and for what you want out of life in general. Not only do you need to know what you want, but you have to be willing to stick your neck out and go for it – take some chances. The fear of failure hinders more people in sports and in life than any other factor.

I took my outline when I was done with it and I gave it to one of my assistant coaches, Ty Segrest. He read it and he got to this one and he stopped and he goes, “This is what has been holding me back my whole life-the fear of failure.” He said, “This is a great one, Mike” – I just wanted to throw that one out. If you don’t stick your neck out you will never be seen above the crowd. Successful people possess incredible desire – their willingness to take chances brings strong results. I encourage my kids to take a chance – always try your best and the kids hear me preach every now and then, that competitive swimming is not all there is in life, but I am going to tell you what – it is a heck of a vehicle. The valuable tools that we can learn through the competitive swimming experience are just very valuable.

Thought #4: Be precise and predictable in your training and education. Successful people have specific knowledge, training, and/or skills and talents. They know the things they need to do in order to be successful and when they need more information, they go out and get it. Like I said, I am a voracious reader and I want to get as much knowledge as I can. How many people out there have read Tony Dungy’s book? Oh – you gotta get your hands on that book. I was just talking with Coach Wadley and he said some real nice things about me, but Coach Dungy never raises his voice. He coaches prima donna, 10 million dollar a year players and he never raises his voice when he is talking to his players. Coach Wadley was telling me that in the last two weeks he has been to six practices at Ohio State, football practices, and he was telling me the same thing about Coach Tressel. He says, “Coach Tressel never raises his voice.” The kids listen – he never has to raise his voice.

Thought #5: That is a great shot. This young man is Parker Quackenbush and he came to me in 6th grade. He could not swim and he said, “My parents want me to go out for a sport and I would like to be a swimmer.” and you are like – Oh Lord, how much time is this going to take? He is just gifted, but his parents are the first people to tell you – we are not into it, okay. We are not going to bring him to morning workout. We are not going to get upset if he doesn’t swim well, but whenever you have him – do the best you can, love him, be nice to him and everything is okay. Well, this young guy, the first year when he was in 6th grade – just swam for a couple of months and then he showed up again in 7th grade and started swimming and I think he was like 2:04 – 2:05 in the 200 free. As a 9th grader last year – just practicing about 7 or 8 months out of the year – they go to Montana in the summer and they swim with Gary up in Montana, occasionally. I am sure he is not there every workout. Parker went 1:47 in the 200 free last year – just kind of dabbling at it, you know? And I pulled his dad aside this summer, and his dad is about 6’5 – 6’6, and I said – Mr. Quackenbush, I don’t know if you know, but if your son actually trained, I mean trained, give me 11 months- he wouldn’t have to pay to go to college – His first thing was, “What?” and then he goes, “That doesn’t matter.”

Have a passion for your ambition. I am flattered that Coach Wadley feels that way about me, but I am absolutely passionate about what I do. You know the saying, “Do what you love – love what you do” – that is me to a T. Successful people have fervor. They learn how to get things done. They use their skills, talents, energies and knowledge to the fullest extent possible. They do things that need to be done – not just the things they like to do. They are willing to work hard and commit themselves to getting the job done. Successful people have ambition. They have enthusiasm, commitment, and pride. They stay focused and have self-discipline.

Thought #6: That is my 12 year old. A little story about Mitch – I think he has my wife’s size and my other two children are rather large, but old Mitch here is an 8th grade student. He is about 4’7” and weighs about 70 pounds and my just-turned 9 year old is about 8 pounds heavier and about 3 inches taller. Old Mitch,he called me this morning at 5 o’clock in the morning. He said, “Dad – I don’t feel good. I threw up at practice today” and I said, “Son, it is 5 o’clock in the morning here in Las Vegas” – He said “Oh, sorry – bye” and hung up the phone. So hopefully, he got back in the water.

Perseverance is a virtue. Aside from commitment and courage – hand in hand – I think perseverance is the #1 thing people need to possess to be successful in life – not only in swimming. Perseverance has been defined as a steady persistence and a course of action, a purpose, a state, a belief, despite all difficulties, obstacles and discouragement that one might encounter. I don’t know about you guys, but I learn a heck of a lot more from failing than I do succeeding. Every time I succeed I think I know it all. Oh that worked, I am not going to change a thing. Well, you gotta keep changing things. You have got to keep changing the workouts and challenging the kids. I honestly believe nothing in this world takes the place of persistence- talent cannot, sheer genius cannot and education won’t. Determination and persistence make one invincible. Perseverance is the crown jewel, I believe, of character traits and virtues.

Thought #7: Learn to give praise as well as receive it. Learn to reward yourself and others. I know that you guys all know people out there that you are in a great mood one day and you have had your cup of coffee and when you are walking around campus or whatever it might be or at your workout – somebody walks in and you are feeling good and you go, “Boy, that is a good looking blouse you have on” or “That is a good looking shirt. Where did you get that?” Oh, this old thing? That ratty thing? I want people that when I give them a compliment, just to say thank you, right? You know those people that are out there. I think that we need to learn to give more praise and more pats on the fanny. You need to do that to yourself.

I will be honest with you – I was very disappointed in my speech last night. I was so geared up for that thing and I don’t know if it was following Coach Shoulberg or what it was, but I thought that I did a bad job – a poor job. I told my wife that, but I just felt terrible about the job that I did. I could do a better job if I did it today or tomorrow or whatever. So, I reaffirmed myself – gave myself some praise and said you know what? I am going to do a better job this morning. I think I am – a little bit better anyways.

“The love you take is equal to the love you make.” One of my favorite quotes of all time. Praise and rewards can be positive reinforcements needed in the pursuit of a goal. An encouraging remark hurts no one, but negative comments, teasing, arguing and the like pull everyone down. I brought this up last night. Maybe I was that way as a teenager – I just don’t remember it or maybe Coach Peak or Coach Pursley who were my coaches – Denny Pursley – who were my coaches – Denny Pursley and Bill – didn’t allow us to talk that way, but today’s teenagers are too negative. It doesn’t have to be that way. For some reason the kids feel like they have to take digs at each other. I just do not accept that in practice and yes, I punish sometimes with swimming. Alright guys – we are going an 800 fly today. I just can’t take it. Taylor is not being a teammate. He is being un-civil and you know, I make the whole team pay for it. I think we need to be able to give out praise and stop digging at each other. Successful people do that.

Thought #8: Never lose site of your goals due to lack of extrinsic recognition. We start instilling this in our young kids at Highlander Aquatics and at Lake Island from a young age. I don’t know about you guys and maybe it is just me, but I do have my staff buying into this – I cannot stand high point trophies. It drives me nuts. If I get another email from a parent or from a child saying I want to swim these specific events at this meet because it is my last chance to win the high point. AWWW – it just drives me nuts. Now, people are motivated that way. I had the pleasure of coaching the Zone team for Florida last year in Houston, Texas. You have never seen kids more excited to receive a little medal after swimming in that meet – I just kind of forgot about those things, but I am trying to teach guys to be intrinsically motivated. When they were able to stand up on the podium and get those gold medals put around their necks – these are 17 – 18 year old boys, but getting those medals was a big, big deal. Michael Phelps felt that way when he won 8 of them, I am sure. I think you have to be motivated and you have to be able to intrinsically help yourself along the way. They can’t get discouraged if they do not win the high point or they do not bring home that gold medal.

Thought #9: Be a good listener. That is probably one of those things that we all should have learned in kindergarten, right? To be a good listener and as I stated last night as well- I have done more growing and more learning and more maturing in the last 3-5 years than I did in the first 39. I don’t know what that is, but my goal – I pray for it every other night – to be a good listener because people matter and if people are willing to talk to you – you need to be able to be a good listener.

I had kind of a funny little story because my 9 year old is a Sponge Bob fanatic and so I was going to stand up here and sing, “Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? Sponge Bob – Square Pants” – Well, I call this “be a sponge and absorb anything related to your goal.” If you are willing to listen you will learn. Always make sure that you sort out the good from the bad, so that you won’t be developing any bad habits or ideas. I said this last night as well – Coach John Wooden, the UCLA basketball coach – he said, “For every one negative comment – it takes 10 to get you back to even kilter.” I think we need to remember that as coaches as well. Make sure you sift out all the bad. By doing this you will be more valuable to the team, the sport, your goals, your family, the human race and to yourself – most importantly. You cannot limit your knowledge and understanding without limiting yourself and your goal.

Thought # 10: Learn to cooperate. People matter, as I just said. Successful people learn to work with other people and not always against them. Not everything is a competition. I am extremely competitive and when we play ultimate Frisbee on Saturdays for 45 minutes with the kids – the kids know – Coach Curley’s Team is going to win. I am extremely competitive and we won’t go in until we win – even if I have to say – the next goal wins. We are staying out there, but sometimes – I have to take a step back and realize that I have got to work with people as well. Successful people have positive and outgoing personalities. They surround themselves with people who offer them help, support and encouragement. Meaningful, positive relationships can’t be combative, caustic or uncivil.

I changed my whole philosophy at my program. I am into building relationships, now. I must be getting old I guess, but it is meaningful to me to build relationships with the kids. To be able to look each other in the eye and say, I love what you did, but here are some things that you can do better and the young man or the young woman says, “Thank you, coach” and they go out and do it. I love coaching those types of kids, but also, in reciprocation – I want them to be able to come and talk to me. If your kids can’t come and talk to you – there is a problem and I used to have that reputation. I still have that reputation with the parents and I am happy with that, alright? I am happy with that, but I don’t want the kids to feel the same way. They have to be able to come in – knock on my door when I am on Outlook or I am on the internet and playing my fantasy football – whatever the heck I am doing, but they have to be able to come in and say, “Can I talk to you coach? I don’t feel right about this” or “I would love if we did more of that.” I have just started noticing in the last couple of months of training – the kids are asking, “Coach, when can we do another distance set?” I am making some progress if they can say something like that. “When are we going to have a D workout?” I think we all need to work on the attitude of holding one another up rather than to push one another down. Use put ups – not put downs and of course together, everyone achieves more.

Thought 11: Learn to make adjustments. Successful people have the courage to admit they made a mistake and they accept correction. They take responsibility for their actions. They are accountable. They do not blame others. They don’t whine and complain. One of my Top 10 pet peeves – I do not want you to point the finger ever at anybody else – well so and so did this – why did you leave early? Well, so and so left early – whatever it might be. One of the things that I really preach to my kids is being accountable and to my children – my kids – is to be accountable.

Successful people have the ability to take constructive criticism and apply it. When they do – they move toward their goal more rapidly. Accepting correction can save time, effort and point you in the right direction. I think we all need to learn to accept discomfort or pain. Training – and this is kind of more of a swimming thing – training will make you uncomfortable, but you can use this as a positive. The discomfort can be used as a gauge as to how hard you were working towards your goal. Nothing of any value comes cheap and the more you have to put out for something – the greater the feeling of accomplishment. A couple of my favorite quotes are, “You get what you pay for,” “The road to success is a toll-road,” and then probably my favorite one is, “There is no victory at bargain basement prices.”

Thought # 12: Don’t just practice – practice with a purpose. I gave this example last night. My bet is Michael Phelps practices with a purpose – and we heard Coach Bowman talk about that on Wednesday night and Thursday, at least I had the pleasure to do so. There is a goal at every single practice. It is a stepping stone to the destination. The journey is very, very important and that is another one of the things coming up here. But you know Tiger Woods does, too. Tiger Woods is not just going to go out and hit a bucket of balls. No way – no how. He is going to take 200 balls and he is going to have it in his mind that of those 200 balls, I am going to hit 160 of them – 80% of them – at a distance of 200 yards – with his 8 iron or whatever it might be – and it is going to be within 15 feet of the pin or I am going to do it over. So, we have gone from be like Mike – Michael Jordan – to be like Tiger and now we are back to be like Michael. We need to practice with a purpose each and every day. The best people in any endeavor are those who devote the most hours to purposeful practice. I am sure you guys don’t need – I don’t give out garbage yardage. Everything has to have a plan. The purposeful practice should reach for objectives that are just beyond one’s level of competence.

Thought # 13: The journey is more vital than the destination. That is another one of my soapbox things preaching to the kids. Take one day at a time. It is good to think about the big picture and the overall goal, but the daily workouts and the goals are just as important. If we do not set those daily little stepping stones – if we don’t set those goals just daily or weekly and we don’t pile up in a 365 day year – 350 great workouts or whatever it might be – we are not going to get to the destination and it might be – just seem too far away for us. The journey should support the ultimate goal – once again – talking about purposeful practices. A person with specific daily goals can relate those goals to a destination. We heard Coach Troy talk to Ryan Lochte and Ryan said, “How can I beat Michael Phelps?” That is the destination and Coach Troy said, “You know what? We have got to get better at the walls.” Did anybody go to the short course Nationals at Georgia Tech in December? Did anybody happen to go to that meet? Well, I had the pleasure of going to that meet with a couple of girls on our team and I am not even sure if it was swimming – but they kicked 12-15 meters off of every wall – it was just the craziest thing – watching these guys swim with these suits on. I mean – it was just unbelievable to sit way up in the stands at Georgia Tech where they had the Olympics and watch Ryan Lochte work those walls and he actually beat Michael Phelps at that meet. Now Michael Phelps was just coming off his wrist injury and everything else, but he was fantastic at that meet. It was just inspiring. I remember going home and saying kids – we have to kick 6-8 meters off every wall.

Results bring status, but the journey builds character – that was on the back of our T-shirt I put about a couple of years ago – results bring status, but the journey builds character. Work every day as if your ultimate goal depended upon that very practice and in fact – it does – it really does.

Thought # 14: Lead a well-balanced life. I had a Master swimmer walk up to me – probably 5 or 6 years ago when he just thought I was running myself into the ground and he said, “Mike, do you work to live or live to work?” And I go whoa – is that Zen or something? I don’t even know what that means. Basically what he was trying to get me to do was to get me to look inward and prioritize life’s true values. I have to do that occasionally and I have to leave swimming behind the gate at Lake Highland when I go out that door and my 15 year old gets in the car and my 12 year old gets in the car. I have to lead a well-balanced life or I am not going to be able to do this forever. This is something that I borrowed from somebody and would like to share with you – so these are some of the things that I have to look at and I have it posted up in my office in my little cubicle. “The best day is today.” “The most potent force is positive thinking.” “The greatest handicap is fear.” “The greatest mistake is quitting – is giving up.” “The greatest blessing – good health.” “The biggest fool – the man who lies to himself – not to anybody else, but to himself.” “The only certain thing in life is change.” “The greatest joy is being needed.” “The greatest opportunity is the next one.” “The greatest victory is victory over self.” “The most expensive indulgence is hate.” “The greatest loss – the loss of self-esteem.” “The greatest comfort – work and a job well done.” “The best teacher – the one who makes you want to learn.” That is our job. As Chuck Wielgus told us – coaches change lives – coaches change lives. Every day when those kids walk out I have to be at my best. I have to try to put aside anything that might be in my mind so my goal is to be that best – the best that I can be for two – two and a half hours every day. The meanest feeling? Regret at another’s success – envy. The best gift – forgiveness. The greatest knowledge – God – in my opinion and the greatest thing in the world is love.

Thought # 15: Do what you love and love what you do. Successful people are enthusiastic and they are passionate. They are excited about what they are doing and excitement is contagious. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. They draw people to them because these people want to work with them – stand toe to toe with them and simply be with them. That is my goal. I want the kids to come and want to be with me – walk hand in hand – shoulder to shoulder and know that I am with them. As coaches, we have a daunting and unbelievable job of trying to affect young people in a positive way. We spend and I am sure you guys do too – I spend more time with the kids on my swim team than most of them do with their parents. You know, they go home – they eat supper – you guys know how teenagers are – how was school? Fine. Well, that was a good conversation. Did you learn anything? Yeah. At least that is the way my boys are.

We have something at the dinner table that we try to do three or four times a week and my 9 year old asks for it all the time – it is called highs and lows. So we all sit down – I think we borrowed it from a movie or something like that and my 9 year old will go, “Daddy, can we do highs and lows today?” And basically what you do is we go around the kitchen table and he gets to pick normally – he says, okay dad – you go first. What are your highs and lows and so I have to say what my high of the day was and then come up with something that was low and it is kind of funny. As an adult I can always think of a high – I can always think of a low, but when you are 9 – only had high’s today, you know? I was on the playground and got real dirty and had a great time and I didn’t break my arm today – he has done that a couple of times on the playground, but learn to talk to kids. Listen to kids and love what you do.

I encourage you to do what you love and love what you do and basically have fun because if it is not fun – we have to stop doing it. I tell the kids the same way – if you are not enjoying it – you need to get out of it. It is too darn hard to do it well – to be all in. It is too hard so I am convinced that a happy swimmer is a fast swimmer. Kids that are happy and they are smiling and they are enjoying what the are doing and they want to come in and do the sets that I am bringing home that Bob Bowman wrote on the board and Katie Ziegler’s coach wrote on the board and everything else – you go home and say – this is what we are going to try today. We are going to try the Janet Evans special today. What is that? Well, we are going to give it a go and they say, you know what Coach? They embrace it. We are going to do it.

Just a couple of pictures – that was our shirt from last year’s high school season. It is kind of a double meaning – all you need is love, but also – all you need is heart. We talk about that a lot as well. A swimmer that swims with heart is going to beat that swimmer that doesn’t swim with heart – I am convinced of that.

Well, that was my 15-year old. I am proud of my kids, that is my 15 year old on the left and my 12-year old on the right – they happened to swim against each other last year in a high school dual meet because like I said – my 7th grader was able to participate on the varsity. My son goes to a different high school and goes to a public high school just up the road and they swam the 500 freestyle next to each other. I have never heard more trash talking from a 65 pound, 12-year old kid that I am going to take you down until my oldest son was a 50 ahead at the 200, but they were swimming right next to each other. I don’t know if that was before the race or after the race, but I had to share that. That was last year, our high school boys’ and girls’ team, after the District or Region Championships– I think they were having fun.

That is all I have for today. I feel really good about what I talked about. Unfortunately, I was on the coattails of Coach Bowman and speaking about some of the things that he spoke about, but I am available for any questions that you all might want to ask outside of successful traits.

Q: Did you talk about the things that you talk to yourself about as far as balancing your ambition and then your family life and things outside swimming – things you may say to yourself to kind of keep yourself under control whether things are going good or bad?

A: I have to do that a lot – I really do. I do have a rule and I am very good about this one. We have a beautiful gate and pillars around our pool at Lake Highland. Our school is rather affluent and the gate around our pool is just gorgeous, but when I walk outside that gate I am done with swimming. I just have to keep telling myself – I won’t talk about it when I get home – maybe occasionally with my wife, but I won’t talk about swimming with my children outside of the pool deck. I am Dad when I walk outside that fence. I have to calm myself down a lot and I am a lot different than I was 5 years ago, 10 years ago, or 15-16 years ago when I was with Coach Wadley. I am surprised that he didn’t tell more stories about me just losing it on the pool deck at Ohio State. Man, I have had my fair share of blow-ups and things like that, but Coach Terry Maul, coaches in Tallahassee with ATAC Swimming Club. I heard him speak one time and he says, “It is just not healthy to let those toxins get in your body.” I really took that to heart as well. I try not to get too upset any more. Yes, I am passionate about and sometimes I just – I have to stand on a soapbox and preach, but I have got to keep telling myself you know – don’t let your toxins get out of whack.

My other thing is that has really helped me – I keep telling the kids that your expectations and your commitment level have to be the same. Now, if you tell me, “Hey, I am just in this for fun and I am satisfied with how good I am. I just like coming to practice.” I have a couple of those kids. This kid named Hugh DeMuirs – I mean – he just loves to be there. He is a total character and his expectations aren’t super high, you know? And his commitment level and I am okay with that as long as we are on the same page. Building those relationships. It is when their expectations are here and the commitment is here, that my toxin levels get out of control.

Q: (unable to hear question)
A: To lead a well balanced life? This is good stuff. I mean – like I said – I had this posted right by my computer just to keep the toxin levels down. But, it is borrowed, but some of the things I have kind of massaged for me. Just to kind of put it in perspective. Any other questions? Yes?

Q: I am wondering where you draw the line between apathy and commitment?

A: Okay – as I stated last night if anybody was there – my goal two years ago was to create an environment – is to continue creating an environment where that doesn’t happen. Where I am teaching kids about commitment and I am doing that by building relationships. I am doing that by having open dialogue and on and on and on. Kids have to want to be motivated. They really do. You can’t push motivation on a kid. A kid has to say – “Coach, help me.” I really believe that. We are the same way, you know? I don’t get rid of anybody that has that apathy because I empathize with them and I can understand where they are coming from. As Coach Shoulberg said, they don’t get as much attention from me. Did I answer your question? Okay. Yes, sir.

(from the floor) I would just like to add – I was there yesterday and I heard all your stuff – yours was completely different from the other two coaches – what you had to say was not the technical part of it – it was more routine part – just the coaches and the kids and you know, I am up and coming with my – I have littler kids and what you said really helped me – I learned a lot of stuff.

A: Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want you all to think that it is all fun and games and cuddly and hugging in huddles and things like that at Lake Highland. I mean – I expect a lot from my kids and I expect more from myself. So, we get after it. Like I said – I have a hammer and I am willing to bring it out and we work hard and we have success and things like that. I think we can do that within an atmosphere of love, concern and mutual respect – I really believe that.

(from the floor) How old are your kids?

A: Well I have about 220 kids on the team ages 6 to 18 and some college kids. We have about 40 kids on the high school team and shockingly I have 10 high school girls and 30 boys.

(from the floor) So you have got your …… 6 year olds – 8 year olds

A: No – I am sorry – I let my assistants do that. No, but they are an extension of me and I am convinced that you are only as good as your assistant coaches and I got great ones. I just added another young man to the staff – Eric Nelson – who was the head coach of Wichita Swim Club for 11 years and thank the Lord his girlfriend lives in Orlando. He moved down there and I was able to put him on the staff. I will always make room for great people. It is not like we needed another coach, but he is a great addition, but we are only as good as our assistants and they are an extension of me in terms of I want them to think like I do – in terms of the commitment and all that good stuff. I let them be them when they are coaching those children. You know, as long as we are on the same page in terms of technique, but I let them love those kids and get them prepared to come to my group.

Q: You are at the high school level?

A: I coach the senior kids club and the high school team, yes – so even those little 12 year olds like my son – that are on the high school team – I have them for two and a half months – three months. So, I have them all now so my group is – instead of 30 kids – it is about 50 right now. Thank the Lord I have Eric with me because handling those little 12 year old boys – that are extremely talented – keeping them focused is a task.

Thank you very much for coming – I appreciate it.

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