What It Means To Be A Coach, Allison Brol
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“Coaching is not a profession, it is a passion.”
Those were the exact words I heard when I decided I absolutely loved the sport of swimming and everything that it entailed from Sergio Lopez, head coach at Bolles School. That love would evolve to include becoming the best coach I could be.
I started my coaching career as a typical 14-year-old instructor during my summers with the local swim team. Ten years later, I have been lucky enough to have coached all age groups and levels of swimming. I’m the coach that still sees Bob Bowman at a meet and my squealing 12-year-old girl comes out. I have developed so much respect for the sport of swimming and what it takes to become a successful coach.
Growing up a swimmer, I was lucky enough to develop a relationship with my age-group coach that included respect, discipline, and, of course, a little comedy. A story that’s engrained in my mind is when my age-group coach told me that if he ever won the lottery he was going to pay for me to have surgery to have a gorilla-sized bladder put in place. I was that girl who always had to go the bathroom and gorilla bladders were huge. Stories like that are not only funny but they are part of what made me fall in love with every aspect of the sport of swimming.
I was recently asked, how would your swimmers describe you? The only reasonable response is: lively! I’m always moving. The head coach of Nitro Swimming, Mike Koleber, told me, “never be a sitting duck.” This was the best piece of advice I have ever received. Coaches are continually growing, and I find it very important to walk on the pool deck every day and smile. Smiling cures everything and being that positive impact each day, whether it’s on an 8-year-old or 18-year-old, is what matters.
Swimming is pure, the purest sport there is, and you get what you put into it. I get to coach some of the most disciplined and hard working young adults out there; there’s nothing better than that.
Each coaching style is different; sometimes it clicks and sometimes it doesn’t, which I am slowly learning is normal and okay. As a newer coach, I am constantly learning. Whenever I coach a group of kids, my hope is that they understand my main goals such as the following:
1. To teach my swimmers how to participate in the sport of swimming the right way.
2. To be a positive impact on them as young adults.
3. To do all of this with dignity.
As a group, we won’t get best times at every meet 100 percent of the time, but we will be the classiest coaches, swimmers and parents at every meet we swim. The swimmers should understand that we swim each day with a respect for our teammates and our coaches.
Becoming a coach is, and will always be, one of the best gifts I could have ever received. I am eternally grateful to all of the coaches I have learned from in the past few years, and I hope to continue learning each day.
Coach Allison Brol, Huntsville Swim Association