By Jamie Drobny
Here is what Jamie Drobny, now a working adult, had to say in a letter to her old high school swim team members.
The Coach, proudly, is John Casadia of Vineland High School in New Jersey.
An incredibly dedicated swim coach, and my experiences as a member of his close-knit and highly motivated high school swim team helped to develop my competitive nature, my powerful work ethic, and my absolute fearlessness when it comes to meeting life’s challenges.
Beyond his astonishing energy, and his ability to guide us to multiple New Jersey State championships, Coach John Casadia’s way of inspiring and motivating a team has left an indelible imprint on my life In Coach Casadia I saw the embodiment of true leadership, and the way in which leadership produces excellence. When he was not poolside urging us on, Coach Casadia was working tirelessly behind the scenes, preparing practices, planning pre-meet pasta parties, and crafting weekly newsletters for alumni of the swim team, his current swimmers, and parents of team members. Coach Casadia’s efforts earned his the national recognition that he so richly deserved. He taught me through his example how fulfilling total commitment to any team or group can be.
Although I was not the fastest or strongest swimmer on his team, Coach Casadia always encouraged me to outperform myself. He insisted that a fifth place finish in a race could have just as much impact on the outcome of a meet as the first place finish. As a result, now I understand that although I may not always be first or best, hard work and dedication are never wasted.
For thirteen years I spent twenty hours a week training to perfect my technique, increase my endurance, and break my own records. Seven years later, I have lost some of my speed in the pool and the superior level of physical fitness I once enjoyed. What remains, however, is the high standard of excellence to which I hold myself, a continued desire to succeed, a healthy competitive spirit, and the ability to be a productive member of a team.
Indeed, to see myself as a part of a team is perhaps the most enduring lesson that I have drawn from swimming. Coach Casadia and my teammates taught me that a team is more than just a group of individuals. It is an organism whose participants, working together in pursuit of a single goal, achieves greater success as a whole than would any of its parts working alone or in smaller groups. Each team member has a contribution to make. All of the teams that I have joined, including Coach Casadia’s, my college sorority, and my current team at RBC Dain Rauscher, have been rewarding and educational experiences. I attribute my success on each to my ability to determine the best role for me and to live up to it, all the while remembering that I do not have to be the leader in order to play a significant role in ensuring that a team meets its goal.