“My life is my message.” Gandhi

Introduction to Character Concept - from mentors and others I respect

"We ask the question, where does our (children’s) leadership come from? Where does personal growth come from? Who has the ability to challenge kids to grow physically and emotionally in ways that they never thought possible? We would argue that it is you, as coaches, in your unique and influential role, providing invaluable inspiration, motivation, and guidance. Of course academics educate, business generates material gain, but athletes and their mentors explore the physical with the emotional, the perseverance and the triumph, the individual and the team. 

Athletes are unique individuals who give everything they have to a demanding process – that offers no guarantee. And while most pursuits in life are quantifiable, the personal growth through athletics is immeasurable and without limit. And it is coaches who facilitate that process and growth. It is an honor to be a coach, and to present this to you.

What we are offering are general, age-old concepts, concepts that while simple in nature and understanding, are becoming threatened in an increasingly complex world – a world that seems to be closing in on our youth.

We would look at this as more of a top-down, macro view - a rising tide concept that lifts all boats, from a competitive and from a life perspective. And although it may seem divorced from athletics (as some parents and coaches might suggest), we would argue that they are inextricably tied and therefore it is not only relevant, but should be a prerequisite.

Our starting position is to help develop high-character young men and women (regardless of age or ability), and high-character athletes who will be leaders and difference-makers, here among their peers and teammates, and in the world.

As time and years go on, we become more convinced that what can and should be gained from sports, is truly invaluable and can be life-changing. For the countless hours committed, the physical, emotional, and financial commitment, and the sacrifices made, there has to be more than a time at the end of this process. We see these kids as not only wrapping their lives around a sport, a team, training, a process, and a coach, but in many ways, their emotional development, college path, and the person they become will be shaped as well. 

In swimming, we see too many careers unravel from overzealous parents, kids obsessed with times or ego, children pulled down destructive social paths, or coaches simply looking for the next “star”. These perspectives miss the big picture and they ultimately lose out in the broader areas of personal development and team environment. Parents ask their kids who they beat in practice rather than who they helped in practice and seem to care more about their kid’s time and place rather than their effort and attitude. Too few kids want to be a character role model. And while parents like the idea, they generally want results. The process is getting lost and with it, so are the virtues of team commitment, work ethic, sacrifice, humility, and on and on. 

We have tried to deeply embed some general, character-driven concepts into our program so that there has become a blending of swimmer and team, athletes and people, and of sports and growth, AND this becomes more a by-product of a life process. 

And as our swimmers leave the program and move into the world, we remind them, “all you have is who you are.”

We have maintained an aggressive position in this regard in all programs (summer league, high school and United States Swimming), at all levels and ages over the nearly thirty years I've been coaching. The teams have all been successful and we believe the philosophical backdrop has been a critical component of that success. It also supports the notion that we can have both success and culture supporting one another."


Character Articles

Societal Issues:

Retrospective Thoughts from TST Alums:

Pressures on Youth: