The best part of being a coach is that it incorporates into my life as a mom. Sometimes that is a difficult balance. I remember a couple of years ago when I was at Aquabears and Scott and Tyler were toddlers and my summer became booked with lessons. It was hard to say no. No to the kids, the parents and the money. With time saying no became easier as I found balance between my kids and my job. I have loved the last 3 years at Dana Hills. I truly know it was where I was supposed to be. It was where my kids were supposed to be. They grew to love swimming. And it wasn't the laps, times or awards that they grew to love. It was the experience of summer rec swimming that I wanted to give them. Snow cones, cheers, dances, fancy county dinners, playing games on the grass all summer long. That is what rec swimming is about. Probably more so than the actual swimming. That is what has kids in this area swimming so incredibly fast for only being in the water for a couple of months. Our community was much younger and even though it is only 25 minutes away the County Rec swim culture that spans from Blackhawk to Clayton never quite made it to Brentwood. So I decided to take a job 25 minutes away, the closest team to our town that was truly rec and have been so grateful for the experience.
The families on Dana Hills are amazing. The kids are even more amazing. Dana Hills has always had really strong older kids which is awesome but I wanted to see some of those kids try USS to have an easier adjustment to College if they wanted. A lot have gotten more into Water Polo and I love coaching little kids so that is what we focused on. You can't build a little kid program without having a great lesson program and unfortunately our pool doesn't allow us to use the pool before April or have a lesson program so we incorporated it into the team with the Spirit Squad. The spirit squad were 13-14 kids who always helped with spirit events. About a week into my first year, we decided to make it more of a coaching role. So 2 days a week our 13-14's came to volunteer and teach little kids how to swim. It has been really rewarding to see it grow. I remember the first year, it took a lot of teaching to let the kids go and allow them to actually try to swim independently. Year two that became more natural and really my third year I felt like it was this well established program that was amazing with Coach Kelly at the helm. The little kid program started to do great and I know will continue to grow the team from the bottom up.
I had a great time coaching alongside great friends and coaches. We laughed everyday, usually about totally non swim related events. We had a quote of the day which I wished I had written down that still make me laugh. Dan 2.0, B. vs. E., the adventures of CK, lack of male hormones, madagascar, communication earpiece, mental breakdowns, tummy aches, donut runs, the death of the drone, Otter convulsions, Otter Olympics, Pineapple Run, Intersquad Meets, Mini Meets and so much more all bring back laughs and memories. I hope they will forever. I am so blessed that I have swam and coach alongside coaches from most teams in one capacity or another. Coaches who I consider great role models, amazing colleagues and friends. We share memories from high school, memories from travel meets, memories from practices and memories from coaching. We really are a tight niche community that is cheering for each other and our community of swimmers.
I learned so much in 3 years. The greatest thing I probably learned was organization. Organizing our coaches, training, otter pups, groups, meets, etc. etc etc. The list is endless. I learned to take everything with a grain of salt. Every parent on a team wants what is best for their kid and I appreciate that. That used to bother me but now being a mom and just wanting my kids to be happy, I realize that all parents want that for their kids. I learned the importance of balancing pleasing vs. being firm. That is different for every coach and every program which is why it is so great to have so many programs. I am all about having fun but also swimming correctly. I learned to solve problems simply. Give the swimmer the opportunity to try and succeed. Sometimes swimmers really want to be with friends or in a different lane. Usually coaches know their best placement but who are we to always know 100%. Sometimes it is more powerful for the swimmer to come to that conclusion and be given the opportunity to try. Given the knowledge that their coach wants them to succeed. Wants them to strive to be the best they can be. I learned that my kids happiness is what is most important. Not the swimming, not the best time, but their overall emotional, mental happiness.
The theme for this year in my head was grit. It all started with a conversation about the power of grit which is a big topic in teaching. A book came out saying that success it often the result of grit. Not the kids who it always comes easiest to but the kids who need to have a little grit in the journey. Scott got bumped from a relay pretty early in the season. He didn't have the opporunity to race his events on Sunday which might or might not have changed the result. He was devastated, however, it was an opportunity to teach so many life lessons. First, you have no power over others, just yourself and need to let relays play out. You want to cheer on everyone and make it about the best possible team that can be formed. Also, dissapointment can make you work harder. You can take that opportunity to work hard and motivate you and that is exactly what he did. While he was bummed at his last Woodlands invitational not to be on the blocks with his friends, he let it motivate him. He is an amazing relay swimmer and had an amazing swim at the end of the year that I know was that much sweeter because of a little bit of grit. Another swimmer got DQ'd from a call that should have been overturned. It was a call that the judge kept changing his story. In the end it motivated him to chose to swim that event at the next invitational and do amazing. So this last season for me was about grit. It was about coming together as a team to score the best we could at county. It was about our B relays that had to score the best they could to get us points. Kids who were on the bubble trying to get into consols and finals. It was a great season, a lot of fun, a lot of life lessons.
At the end of last year, I felt that my time with Otters was probably not going to be much longer. I didn't know the timeline or reasons but remember feeling that impression. I really do believe in a higher being guiding and directing our lives. I have always prayed that the Lord would guide me to where I needed to be and have felt that every job I have had has been where I should be. Right time and right place. As the season went on, it became clearer that this would be my last year at the Otters. Bitter Sweet. Mostly because it was time to build up swimming in my community. The kids in East Contra Costa deserve an amazing Rec Team. They deserve what my kids got to be a part of and what I got to be a part of. I also really felt the need to be closer to home. My time with my family has become more and more precious. Having 6 kids has its certain challenges with quality time being the biggest one. I haven't had the chance to have that with a lot of my kids because I spent an hour or more in the car being away from home. In the fall I would drive out to Aquabears at 4 and get home at 8. For Tyler that was the entire time hew as home. I never had the chance to read to Blake after school. Hanna was content but not with her mom as much as I wanted. I had nannies in the past who were amazing. In many ways probably more energetic than I was but this year wasn't the best with our nanny situation. It was great in the beginning but ended up piecing people together here and there who would sit my kids in front of electronics or do there own thing while my kids were off doing something else. It made me grateful for how awesome my nannies have been in the past. Just not the right fit. Plus, I realized that I have been doing this for 20 years and it was time to do something in my community how I wanted to do it.
So that leaves us with now. I am not sure what the future has in store. I don't know if it will be just quality time with my family which I will treasure and be so grateful for. I don't know if it will mean doing clinics or being a swim mom or helping start a team. I know I will be guided and I know that the Lord knows what our community needs, he knows what will be the perfect family/work balance for me. There have been a couple of avenues that I looked into and just weren't right. I laugh at how unright they were. I love that. I remember when Danny lost his job at Lajauns and started his own practice a couple months later. I knew without a doubt that it was meant to be. That happened again in Walnut Creek before he was to buy another practice. He knows my strengths and weaknesses and knows my heart. I really do want the kids in East Contra Costa to have swimming as part of their community like it is over the hill. I am excited for the potential. I was at a water polo introduction meeting last week and the water polo coach had the same energy, excitement and drive that has been placed on my heart for Brentwood. He said they just started a kid program a year ago and it has grown so much and will just continue to grow. He talked about how OMPA, which is a rec league over the hill, being an amazing feeder into their water polo and how he envisions something like that out here someday. He had a vision for aquatics with all the new pools being built and thinks we are at the start of something pretty incredible out here. I really do share his feelings. Most coaches do. I can't tell you how many really amazing coaches come up to me to see when Brentwood Aquatics will be a powerhouse. We have the population, the numbers, the pools. We have some great programs that have and are starting. I think time, culture and getting coaches to stay her and build this community is going to start happening and I am excited to see how aquatics changes and grows in the next 20 years.
So as I am sad to leave and know I will miss the kids and families and coaches, I know it is right. And that makes me excited. I have learned to be patient. I have learned that you don't always need to know what is coming but let it unfold in the Lord's perfect timing. That makes me excited. Much more excited than if it was on what I thought was the right timing.
For now, I love being home with my kids. I love doing homework after school. I love being able to develop myself as a coach. I have a passion for what I do in my home and in my work and that is such a great blessing!!!
Thanks Otters for 3 incredible years.