November 25, 2011
Thanksgiving Message from the Coaches
We would like wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving and share some thoughts with you.
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. After a team meeting with a few inspirational articles, and college swimmer introductions, we had nearly sixty swimmers in the pool and swam nearly 8,000 yards in our typical holiday “theme” fashion. It was a workout that replicated a Thanksgiving meal 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. As Ronnie tells them, they are not just swimmers, the are extraordinary examples of student-athletes at the highest level, great role models, and further verification that a positive, personal environment can create a platform for an extended and fulfilling college career. We have never viewed Orinda Aquatics as a “destination” but simply as a part of their journey. 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.
We thank the swimmers not only for their commitment to the team, but also for their commitment to such high standards and for putting character first. We would also like to thank the parents for your support of Orinda Aquatics and of your children to be athletes. On a day of thanks, you are at the top of the list!
And for us personally, we could not be more thankful for this incredible opportunity that we have. Our passion and life dream is also our career. And in our thirty-plus 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.
So thank you again.
PS: I have included an email from David Black, a former OA swimmer who went on to swim at Emory University and then went to Medical School. He talks about the bigger picture, and the long-term positive effects that swimming had on his life. Please take a minute to read this.
Ron and Don-
I wanted to bring you up to speed on my life. Midway through my junior year at Emory I decided I wanted to go down the pre-med road, so I started taking the appropriate classes that summer and into my senior year. After I graduated, I continued to take more pre-med courses and began working in a lab part time, volunteering at Emory Hospital, and studying for the MCAT. I'm still working in the same lab, and participating in the volunteer program at the hospital. The lab work is basic research on epilepsy. We are trying to find new molecules to use to treat/prevent seizures in kids and adults. In the hospital, I volunteer in the emergency department 8 hours a week where most of my time is spent streamlining patient care and talking to patients (histories, comfort measures, etc). I've learned an incredible amount of information about medicine, and met some really amazing people (physicians and patients), and heard some really inspiring stories.
I also started all my medical school applications in July and have written essay after essay like you wouldn't believe (I applied to 22 schools). At almost every school, there is a question that asks you to talk about challenges in your life, or experiences that have impacted you during your development or something of that nature. I wrote about my competitive swimming experience almost every time. Not about times, or awards, but about lessons learned and friends made through trial and fire. I feel so fortunate to have had swim coaches who always emphasized what's most important: dedication, respect, and team. Looking back now, I realize we also learned what hard work, dedication, respect, and team sacrifice really mean. Developing those intangibles as an OA swimmer that are applicable to almost any life situation are what I write about in my essays, and what I'm most proud of. I think they are a big part of my success at Emory, and why I've already received 7 interview offers and 1 acceptance at medical school for the fall. So, thank you for the strength you've help instill in me to not only pursue a medical career, but to be a better person.
Dave Black (OPP, Miramonte, OA, Emory)
Robert Flatt - Thanksgiving like contentment is a learned attribute. The person who hasn't learned to be content will not be thankful, for he lives with the delusion he deserves more or something better.
Chinese Proverb - When eating bamboo sprouts, remember the man who planted them.
Albert Schweitzer - To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kind that will stand behind the action. Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude.
John Taylor - And though I ebb in worth, I'll flow in thanks.