Awards Night Speech

 

Thank you to all who attended awards night! It was a wonderful season culmination and celebration of our athletes, their successes in the pool and outside the pool.  Most importantly, thank you for the opportunity to share your kids with us.  Our ultimate goal and motto is to cultivate the passion for the sport we love; swimming.

Then, from there, our hope is that the season experience develops a sense of confidence and understanding in learning about the “how to’s” in building success.   The ultimate goal is to build Character, Commradery and Commitment that is then applied on the path of success for life.

I wanted to share my opening speech with those of you that unfortunately could not be there so you are also included. This might be a long read, (more in detail than the actual speech itself) but please stay with the story, take the time to read it when you can sit down and absorb it.  I hope you understand and you will see the parallels of what I see in our swimmers of WCSC.

It has been two weeks now since the conclusion of our final meet and my alarm stills goes off at 6am.  Excited, I am ready to start my day, thinking about how to challenge athletes, write creative workouts and find ways to have aahh haa moments.  Your kids gave us coaches our PURPOSE.  We enjoyed each and every unique person and they challenged us to learn what they were about. 

I am reading a book that was a favorite and given to me by my lifetime mentor, who also in the course of thirty years became one of my best friends.  I am reading the book Grit by Angela Duckworth.  I extracted my own 5 key elements to success that I believe to be part of the Grit scale.

  1. Grit is Perseverance and Patience
  2. Grit is Courage to face potential obstacles or challenges
  3. Grit is to the ability to take the challenges, learn from them and apply what you have learned.
  4. Grit is Acknowledgment that there are incremental steps in the ladder that are to be celebrated and lauded as achievement hurtles.
  5. Grit at the highest level is sharing and encouraging others.

 

Interestingly, I realized my most humble best friend Rick, was the most gritty person I have ever known.He never looked for accolades. He ran from the spotlight. He believed his calling was to share all he knew about life in order to develop our precious jewels. Our youth.

 

Rick grew up in a suburban neighborhood in Newark Delaware.As a young boy he collected bottles and cans to turn them in for a few cents so he could buy a pack of baseball cards and a wad of gum.Back in the day it was many boys’ hobby.Not only was it a passion for Rick, it was an obsession.He studied the players backwards and forwards, from Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Roberto Clemante (one of Rick’s personal heroes that died in a plane crash distributing food and clothing to the underprivileged). Rick knew every players statistics by heart.His circle of friends in his neighborhood of Northstar would congregate around in a circle bartering and trading their cards. Other activities included swimming on the Recreational team and hanging with his buddies at the pool which was on his street on Saturn Drive, playing kick the can, stick ball and any imaginable “made up” “street sport” while waiting for the Good Humor Ice cream truck.A group of comrades they certainly were, but at the same time when trading baseball cards they were a fiercely competitive circle much representative of traders in the pits at the New York stock exchange or Chicago Board of trade…… or an uncanny resemblance to competitive comrades on a swim team.

 

Rick not just had a gift and a head for numbers and statistics, he also had an uncanny perception of human nature. “See this player,” he would say pointing to a totally unknown player and unpopular baseball card……….”he is going to be special,” he would tell his group of buddies in his trading circle.What did he know and see that was so beyond the surface of what the athlete was actually displaying for the current season?He just knew.He just knew from their level of Grit, even though they might be in their first season, he knew they were going to be BIG!

Beyond talent, Rick had a passion that was to send him on a journey that even to him had yet to be revealed.

 

While in college those same neighborhood boys and competitive comrades all became a team of swim coaching comrades. Sometimes on the same staff or sometimes opposing, they always shared.

After graduating from college at Bucknell, Rick moved to Chicago and became a runner/apprentice at the Chicago Board of trade.He toiled, learned, listened. After several years he proved he had grit.A mentor took him under his wing, and took a chance on Rick. He helped Rick to finance the purchase of a seat on the Chicago Board of Trade.

In the early days of trading in the ten year bond pit it was not a glamorous nor pretty picture.A trader literally, not just figuratively, gets pushed around.Besides the toll of fast paced aggressive and frequently “not so friendly” competitors in the pit, Rick would go home every day taking a strong dose of rejection.Rejection also came with huge financial loss in the early days. But even in the toughest and darkest days, Rick pulled himself up by his bootstraps and returned to the pit.

Slowly but surely he took time to analyze and apply not just financial strategy but the same type of strategy he used when reading those baseball players.He developed strategies of learning trends and people.As he learned and applied, learned and applied, he started to emerge.Slowly at first, but as time went by it was quite clear he was on a journey of success. It took six years but Rick emerged as the most powerful and number one trader at the Chicago Board of Trade ten year bond pit.Grit……………………………….

Years after, he evaluated life, his success, his earnings and knew it was time to sell his seat.He sold his seat with deliberate purpose.The purpose to do what he always wanted. Swim Coach full time.He coached full time for 15 years leading Nutrier High School to state championships, year round teams to Nationals, writing books for other swim coaches and developing our youth.

Most recently his biggest challenge was a cancer diagnosis. He truly was what he preached.Every step on the Grit scale was Rick.After six months doctors announced he was clear.He had crossed the finish line.

 

In reflection to my story, I see many of you (swimmers) like Rick. You will succeed. Apply the Five Steps of Grit.As a team our County swimmers didn’t just swim well, they swam out of their mind. Not because of a coach’s magic wand,it was because through the years they had Grit.I looked back at many of those swimmers results from their first year on WCSC. Guess what? Some had County times but many did not. Grit. It takes time, perseveres, patience. If you desire, it will come to you in one shape or form.

We developed a motivational steps of achievement this year by determining Star Goal times for each event by age group.Starting with White Star all the way to a Gold Star achievement which is beyond a County time. We had over 230 star times achieved this year. Break down of 27% white, 24% Red, 15% Blue and 7% Gold.

Our team which is 59% new swimmers since 2017 most of which had never even experienced a swim meet. Overall, vast personal improvements. Now with mentorship from old swimmers and the wisdom of the experienced older and wise families we have new and growing team that was hovering around 100 members in 2017, now 140 plus this summer not including a substantial Spring group. Let’s keep growing and keep learning and applying Grit.

The individual and team challenge for next year is “Do you have GRIT like Rick?”, GRIT to add a star or two to your arsenal.Keep striving, growing, and learning swimmers of WCSC! We are proud of your success!

All the best,

Coach Vicky, Tommy, Mandy, Devon