Editor’s note: Every Friday, USASwimming.org will publish “Coaches You Should Know,” featuring some of the best age group and grasssroots coaches in the nation. This week, we bring you the Adirondack LSC ASCA Age Group Coach of the Year Todd Striker.
Todd Striker started coaching at a local YMCA in 2003 and transitioned into the Age Group Coach at Albany Starfish Swim Club in New York in 2008.
He was named the 2012 ASCA Age Group Coach of the Year in the Adirondack LSC.
Prior to coaching, Striker was a standout swimmer at Alfred University, where he held five school records and was a 10-time All-American. He graduated in 2001 and is the middle of three sons, all having swum at the Division III school.
Striker and his wife recently had their first child and put coaching on hold this season. Learn more about Striker.
How did collegiate swimming help transition you into coaching?
When I got out of college, there were all these things I missed. The sport gave me so much, and when I got out, all that was kind of taken away, and you realize what I means to you.
The next step was, “How can I get involved? How do I give back to the sport?” And the way I found to fill both those needs is to work with kids and to show them what this sport can do for you – how it can make you feel, how it can make you grow and help make you learn.
How were you able to manage your time working as a full-time engineer at General Electric and coaching?
It was an 8 am to 5 pm job. Some days, I stayed late. Then practice started typically 6:30 p.m. A lot of the times I’d stay (at GE) until 5:30 p.m., 6 p.m., and then head over to practice.
When you have a full-time job, and then you’re working with kids, your biggest priority is making sure those kids have faith in you, believe in you and know that you’re there for them no matter what. Some days, that was the huge challenge. But once you get in there and see those kids smiling and happy to be there, a lot of times they inspire me to do the best I could, and give them the best at every practice.
Explain your coaching philosophy.
My goal as a coach is to simply show these kids what they can be a part of. Somehow, 20 years from now, I hope they can say, “There are so many people who helped me realize what a great sport this is.” That’s all. I’ve never really thought about it like, “We’re trying to break these times; we’re trying to break these records.” I just want an atmosphere where these kids can have fun, learn and grow.
What got you into swimming?
My older brother and I started taking lessons. I probably was in first grade. We started taking lessons at the local USA Swimming Team.
I knew it was something I could have fun with, I could participate in. Basketball wasn’t really my thing. I was really short.
What was the best part about swimming in college?
It was a very, very small school, but has a rich, rich swimming tradition.
I loved swimming, but I wasn’t going to get a scholarship out of it. It wasn’t all about scholarships or going somewhere huge. I really loved being part of a family, and I wanted to have that with my brother. So that was one of the biggest reasons going to (Alfred) University, and also academically. I tell my kids on the swim team that you’re here to swim, but your family comes first, your academics second and other things mixed in there. Swimming is just a piece of the puzzle.