Pacific Swimming
Level 4
Excellence 300

Putting Character First


Positive Coaching Alliance: Double-Goal Coach National Award (three given)

Speak Regularly at ASCA World Clinic

First USA Coach to Present Coach Education in China, Ireland, Swaziland, Iran

Asked to Present First ASCA Life Skills Course (Jan 2011 - San Diego)

Don Serves as President of the The American Swimming Coaches Association, (five years)

Don serves on the Bord of Pacific Swimming and USA Swimming (via ASCA)

The Heidary Team Sportsmanship Award - Orinda Moraga Pool Association

Don Gives Keynote at Miramonte Baccalaureate (below)

North Coast Section Honor Coach (Ron & Don)

California CIF Coach of the Year (Ron - Campolindo)

Pacific Swimming Age-Group Coach of the Year (Ron & Don)



OA Coaches Celebrated at Positive Coaching Alliance National Youth Sports Awards


Ronnie and Donnie, PCA Double Goal Coach Award Recipients, with Phil Jackson, winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award

For their positive impact on youth athletes, the Heidarys were awarded the coveted “Double-Goal” Coach award at PCA’s 12th Annual National Youth Sports Awards sponsored by Deloitte and Liberty Mutual. It is presented to coaches who strive to win while pursuing the more important goal of teaching life lessons through sports. The Heidarys are the co-founders/head coaches of Orinda Aquatics and coach Campolindo and Miramonte, respectively. The central tenet of their program is “Character First”. “We applaud coaches like Don and Ron Heidary for effectively using sports to teach valuable life lessons to our youth” said Julie Brassard, Liberty Mutual Insurance.


PCA is in partnership with nearly 2,000 schools and youth sports organizations nationwide,  impacting nearly 5 million youth. “Don and Ron help youth athletes win in and out of the pool,” said Jim Thompson, founder and CEO of Positive Coaching Alliance. “By creating a positive, character-building youth sports experience, and serving as Double-Goal Coaches, Don and Ron help youth develop into better athletes and better people.” Mark Madsen, NBA Champion and Assistant Coach at Stanford, was the Master of Ceremonies for the event. Phil Jackson, PCA National Spokesman and 11-Time NBA Champion Coach, was awarded the Ronald L. Jensen Award for Lifetime Achievement.



The Heidary Award - OMPA

The Orinda/Moraga Pools Association (OMPA) is the dominant recreational swim league in the area and perhaps in the country. Their annual OMPA Championship swim meet, held each August at the Soda Aquatic Center in Moraga, is purportedly the best and fastest recreational swim meet in the nation with over 1800 participants ages 3-18. The mission statement of the OMPA includes promoting the spirit of sportsmanship, integrity and ethical standards for all its participating athletes, coaches and parents, and to ensure fairness through its rules and regulations. A goal of the OMPA is to use the sports experience to help the swimmers develop positive character traits and values that will help them succeed in the rest of their lives.

In the mid 1990's, to promote excellent sportsmanship within this highly competitive league, the OMPA Board instituted a new team award for Team Sportsmanship called the Heidary Sportsmanship Trophy, named after Ronnie and Donnie Heidary who had been coaching together for over 30 years, first at the recreational level at the Pinole Seals and then within the OMPA at both Meadow Swim Club and Sleepy Hollow Swim and Tennis. They also founded Orinda Aquatics USA team. Additionally, they are the Head Coaches for the OMPA’s local high school teams, Miramonte and Campolindo, which have realized tremendous successes under their coaching. As coaches, they have been instrumental in coaching youth in the values of good sportsmanship. They believe in developing the best person and building character in their athletes such that they make the right choices in life. This perpetual trophy is awarded to the team that demonstrates sportsmanlike athlete, coach and fan conduct during the season, including dual and invitational meets. The winner is determined by OMPA representatives' votes and is awarded at the OMPA Championship Meet.

OMPA Sportsmanship Checklist for swimmers, coaches and fans (some examples):

  • Follow the rules. Always be fair, honest and show integrity.
  • Respect the coaches
  • Respect the officials whether they be volunteers or professional
  • Respect the other team’s and your own teammates’ efforts. Whether winning or losing, do not put the other team down. If a swimmer is out-performed, accept it, learn, offer no excuses and move on. If a swimmer out-performs another they may enjoy the victory, but not gloat, belittle or minimize the others’ performances. Wait in the pool until all swimmers have completed the race. Shaking of hands after the event and congratulating other swimmers is positive behavior.
  • Offer both enthusiasm and encouragement to teammates – both praise and comfort. Do not criticize teammates. A team player does not condone unsportsmanlike conduct from teammates, but instead encourages good sportsmanship. Cheers should be positive. Spirit should be observable.
  • As the visiting team, respect the home team’s pool grounds during the meet and leave the grounds clean at the conclusion of the meet. As the home team, show hospitality to the visiting team’s swimmers, coaches and families.
  • The team should demonstrate good organization. The team should demonstrate efficiency in helping run the meet smoothly, i.e., running the meet on time, volunteers such as timers should be punctual, announcers should be unbiased, computer people need to meet deadlines before and during the meet and post results to the web site and the other team in a timely manner after the meet
  • Observers should be fans and not fanatics
  • Team members (coaches, swimmers and parents) should regulate others on their team to reinforce positive sportsmanlike behavior.

   Miramonte Baccalaureate 2008

 Don Heidary

(Don was asked to speak at the Miramonte High School Baccalaureate - (speech below)


First, let me thank you for this honored invitation and let me applaud you, not only for graduating, but for becoming the extraordinary young men and women that you are. The world will be a better place because of you. Having known a number of you over the years, I can tell you that while I may have at times added to your pressured and hectic lives, I have the utmost admiration and respect for what you do and who you are.


Although the challenges seemed overwhelming at times, it is that which challenges you that makes you stronger and elicits greater will and character. And that is clearly evident here. Having spent the past thirty years coaching, I have seen thousands of children grow into young adults. I have seen many inspirational and extraordinary lives, and I have also seen some disconcerting trends - a subtle shift away from broader values and priorities that not only affect our youth but our entire society.


And as a coach, and an observer of life, I do believe that the simple concepts of athletics and team can not only drive an athlete or an organization, but more significantly, a life. In a time of change, and with a theme of change, I would offer some observations and advice. Some simple but profound principals are getting lost in a sea of individualism, ego, pressure, marketing, technology, and self-doubt. The world seems to be closing in on our youth, and drugs and alcohol seem too often an easy escape.


In an age where media and celebrity seem to create more false identities than products or music, don’t follow the masses or the trends; follow your heart and your conscience. As the saying goes, “If you don’t go within, you go without.”


The first principal is Work Ethic (simple and profound)

Not only work ethic, but embracing work and taking pride in it. I have seen many young adults look for the path of least resistance, when more often than not, the path of most resistance creates the greatest long-term success. It is one of the greatest virtues and one the quickest paths to character.


The second is Integrity

Not only contemplating integrity, but living it every minute of every day with every fiber of your being - and exercising it when you would have every reason not to, like no one would know – you would.


The third is maintaining a true “Team” Concept – Everyone likes the idea of being on a team, yet true team commitment is embracing the sacrifices that create unconditional commitment to a greater cause. Whether it is a sports team, a business, or simply your own family (the greatest team you will be a part of), the benefits AND the sacrifices could very well define your life.


And finally, success…

Not only seek success, but celebrate the success of others, even when you experience setbacks. Success is not a zero sum game, and that which you wish for others will eventually flow to you. On your journey, do not walk a path that draws attention but rather gives attention. As The Purpose Driven Life says, “It’s not about you.” Those that I have seen embrace these concepts have not only been successful, but more importantly, they have been happy.


From the book, EVER WONDER?, many introspective questions are posed that relate to these topics:


  • If your life is too hard, how easy would you like it – and what are you comparing it to?
  • Are you the type of person with whom you would like to spend the rest of your life with?
  • Do you know that you are the one you’ve been waiting for”?

Regarding Your Parents

In a time where young adults want to claim their independence, I would encourage you to remain dependent, dependent on your parents and your family.


…dependent on the love, support, wisdom, and guidance that they have given you since the day you were born. While you will have many friends – none will offer the unconditional commitment to your life and well being – in good times and bad. And as mentioned earlier with sacrifice - they have made many – for the greater good – of your “team”. They “recruited” you, “trained” you, nurtured your talents, eased your setbacks, watched you when you slept, and prepared you to move on. And in my many years of parent observation and interaction, I can assure you unequivocally, you have learned from the very best.


A story that I love was that of a baseball player making it into the Major Leagues. His father called and said, “You did it,” to which the son replied, “no, we did it”. Your success is a “we” and your life is a “we”.

  • Thank them
  • Appreciate them
  • Respect them
  • Love them
  • Include them, and make them your best friends (as you are theirs).

Do this Everyday!


In conclusion…

On life's pursuit, I share with you my favorite fortune (cookie) - yes that was the best I could do. I have kept it for twenty years. Look for the dream that keeps you coming back. It is your destiny.”  It has been mine. In the book, The Go-Giver, the mentor asks the young man if he has ever made up a story. “Your life works the same way”, he says, “you just make it up - being fulfilled, successful, or happy. You make it up right here, right now. Everything else is just how it plays out.” I hope and pray that your life is not only extraordinary - but extraordinary in the way it touches the lives of others, and that while you are successful, it is your service that you are the most proud of.


Thank you,