November 22, 2018
Thanksgiving Message from the Coaches
“It is not happy people who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy.” unknown
We would like wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving. When we tell parents that we have swim practice on Thanksgiving morning, most people’s response is the same, “you make people train on Thanksgiving”, or “why would anyone want to practice on Thanksgiving? or, “you have to work on Thanksgiving?” To the contrary, it is one of the most positive and inspiring workouts of the year, and possibly in the country. After a team meeting and college swimmer introductions, we had seventy-five swimmers in the pool (and twenty-five Junior swimmers) and swam 7,000 yards in our typical holiday “theme” fashion. It was a workout that replicated a Thanksgiving meal (see attached workout and photos) and although we got a few “I’m not hungries,” the kids did a great job. I am not sure how many teenagers find themselves training hard with an extraordinary group of dedicated, high-character peers on a holiday morning, but I can assure you there is nothing negative about it. I would also suggest that if any of those parents that question “training” on Thanksgiving could see our group and our environment, they would unquestionably want their children to be a part of it.
We cannot tell you how rewarding it is to see all of the college swimmers return. We had nearly thirty at practice, from; Indiana, Williams, Georgetown, Lafayette, Pacific Lutheran, Cal Poly, UC Santa Barbara (3), UC San Diego, Redlands, Davidson, Rice, Willamette, Johns Hopkins, Washington State, Columbia, Cal, UCLA, Dartmouth (3), and West Point. We see them swimming very well and becoming leaders and captains on their respective teams. We assure them that they are not just swimmers; they are extraordinary examples of student-athletes at the highest level (see Scott Wu’s note), and great role models. While we always look for success in the pool, it is our sincere hope that who these swimmers become outside of the pool ultimately defines their experience, their success, and who they are as people.
At this time of giving thanks, we thank our swimmers not only for their commitment to the sport, but also for their commitment the team, to our culture, and to something outside of themselves. We would also like to thank the parents for your support of Orinda Aquatics and of your children to be student-athletes at this level. On a day of thanks, you are at the top of the list!
And for us personally, we could not be more grateful for this incredible opportunity that we have. Our passion and life dream is also our career. In our forty years of coaching, we have never referred to it as “work.” And what makes it so rewarding is not the success achieved but the daily interaction with these extraordinary young adults and the great team environment they create.
With sincere gratitude,
The OA Coaching Staff, Donnie, Ronnie, Matt & Marc
We have included:
- The Thanksgiving theme workout/photos
- Quotes/story (below)
- Scott Wu note
"We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count." N. Maxwell
- "Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." William Arthur Ward
- "Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things." Robert Brault
- "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them." John F. Kennedy
- "Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance." Eckhart Tolle
- "If a fellow isn't thankful for what he's got, he isn't likely to be thankful for what he's going to get." F. Clark
- "He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has." Epictetus
- "The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated." William James
- "Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough." Oprah Winfrey
- "When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around." Willie Nelson
- "Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out."John Wooden
- "We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count." Neal A. Maxwell
- "In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich." Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- "The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you." John E. Southard
- "Gratitude and attitude are not challenges; they are choices." Robert Braathe
- "In life, one has a choice to take one of two paths: to wait for some special day--or to celebrate each special day." Rasheed Ogunlaru
A Thanksgiving Story (unknown)
A blind boy sat on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet. He held up a sign which said: "I am blind, please help." There were only a few coins in the hat. A man was walking by. He took a few coins from his pocket and dropped them into the hat. He then took the sign, turned it around, and wrote some words. He put the sign back so that everyone who walked by would see the new words. Soon the hat began to fill up. A lot more people were giving money to the blind boy. That afternoon the man who had changed the sign came to see how things were. The boy realized the same man had returned, and asked, "Were you the one who changed my sign this morning? What did you write?" The man said, "I only wrote the truth. I said what you said but in a different way." I wrote: "Today is a beautiful day but I cannot see it." Both signs told people that the boy was blind. But the first sign simply said the boy was blind. The second sign told people that they were so lucky that they were not blind. Should we be surprised that the second sign was more effective? Moral of the Story: Be thankful for what you have. Be creative. Be innovative. Think differently and positively. When life gives you a 100 reasons to cry, show life that you have 1000 reasons to smile. Face your past without regret. Handle your present with confidence. Prepare for the future without fear. Keep the faith and drop the fear. The most beautiful thing is to see a person smiling. And even more beautiful, is knowing that you are the reason behind it! Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Note from OA Alum Scott Wu, University of Chicago
November 21, 2018
Donnie and Ronnie,
I wanted to check in and wish you both a happy Thanksgiving! I will be staying in Chicago for the break to work on a few things and attend a few meetings, but I hope your holiday is enjoyable.
I've been doing well despite this quarter being easily the busiest stretch of my life thus far. I do manage to get everything done (swimming, maximum course load, T.A. a biology course, MCAT classes on the weekend and studying, Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Vice President obligations, lab work, interviews for summer internships, and more), but some weeks feel more like a blur/blend of days than anything else. I have not missed a single class or lab this quarter and am one of only two people on the sixty-five-person swim team to have not missed a practice or lift–but it has certainly come at a cost. There have been some weeks this quarter where I have not slept more than 4 hours a night, including weekends. Despite this, I constantly ask myself Donnie's question/quote of "If you think your life is hard, how easy would you like it to be?" This quote has become a favorite among some others on my team (after I yelled it when a group of swimmers were late to a 6:00 AM lift session–one where I had only gotten 3 hours of sleep before).
School is going well. I've been able to maintain solid grades and have actually had one of the best academic quarters of my time here thus far. With my schedule being the way it is, I make sure to communicate conflicts with professors weeks in advance so that they know I'm not irresponsible. Teachers never want to hear that a swim practice or meet or interview etc. is more important than their own course/field of discipline–something they've invested their whole life in–so I make sure to not come off as an inconsiderate athlete.
I'll be taking the MCAT in January and will be applying to medical school in the spring. I don't plan to take a gap year, and will hopefully only have to the take the MCAT once. My goal is to come back to California, and maybe even pursue a joint MD/MBA degree. We'll see.
As far as swimming goes, I've been training very well despite being half-asleep at the beginning of a lot of practices. We just had our fall taper meet, where I went best times in the 100 and 200 fly (52/1:56.0; 51 100 fly in a relay). I actually had to cut my meet short to go to MCAT classes, which I take on the weekends–maybe I could've swam faster in finals, who knows. I will be swimming more freestyle in the months to come, especially the 200. Some of the other guys on the team had some incredible swims; we had a 1:45.0 200 backstroke, a few 1:48.00 200 flys, a bunch of sub 50 100 flys/backs, and a 1:38 200 free among other great swims (and a ton of amazing swims on the girls' side as well, of course).
I know things back home are rough with the fires, and that training must be affected too. It's horrifying and saddening to see some of the pictures of Paradise and Malibu; people out here in Chicago that are not from California really don't understand the scope of the issue, which is frustrating. Just two days before I flew back to Chicago for this quarter, I was down in the SB/LA/Malibu area (I drove around a lot) visiting Emily Ward. The week before that, I drove through the Chico/Paradise area to visit family further north. To think that so much of the land and so many of the houses are gone makes me extremely emotional.
As always, I wish the best for OA and the high school teams. I've been following some of the college commitments and am extremely impressed–though not surprised, as the work you have been doing with the program is outstanding and unrivaled. Make sure the swimmers know that their capabilities (in both swimming and academics) lie far beyond what they merely think they can do. While you always had some great quotes, the one that really sticks out to me most (besides the easy/hard life question) and that I have on my locker is that "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift" (Steve Prefontaine). I live by it.