D3 NCAAs Cancelled: Notes From a Dad/Coach

Courtesy: Mike Murray

Thankful Thursday!

I think Thursday is an important reminder, no matter what, to be mindful of the things we are thankful for in our lives.

Last evening, we received the devastating news that the NCAA Division III Championships have been canceled for the second straight year. This leaves our daughter, Savannah, currently ranked 3rd in the Nation in the 400 IM, without the opportunity to race for an individual National Championship and likely, an NCAA team title.

Emotionally distraught and fighting through tears on the phone, I said “You must feel so angry.” Her reply was masterful “I can’t think about this right now, we’re going sledding.”


I am learning all the time as a coach and as a Dad. In 30 seconds, I discovered I did not need to try and fix things.

Savannah, at almost 20 years old has this setback under control. She and the seniors on the team are going sledding. They are going to compartmentalize this hurt together as a team. They will, for lack of a better term, celebrate this setback as a family of athletes.

As parents, we are inherently wired to create soft-landings and security, mostly out of love but also out of a need for control. Our emotional responses are indicative of the human experience and they often manifest themselves in ways that can potentially inhibit growth in our children.

After ending our phone call an involuntary smile swept across my face, signaling perhaps my own moment of stark realization that I am not necessarily needed as I once was, but now my job is simply to listen, accept and support.

Accolades, academic, athletic, or otherwise are not when we are most proud as parents. Our most profound moments of pride begin when our children no longer require the emotional safety net, and the fluorescence of their adult lives becomes more evident than ever.

Create time and space in your life as a parent to recognize these signs as validation for how you have developed strong-minded, thoughtful, and independent people.

Our legacies as teachers, coaches, and parents should be most concerned with a genuine, collective goal of long-term development, empowering our children to explore the world without fear of failure, and with the curiosity to create a better future for the next generation.

Have a fantastic Thursday!

Mike Murray is the Program director and Co-head coach of Victor Swim Club.

Leave a Reply

Notify of
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Richard Sybesma
11 months ago

Sorry to hear of the cancellation. Awesome post about how your daughter and you as a parent are handling this.

11 months ago

sorry for her, and your, loss, based upon a risk decision that has ~no impact to healthy college kids vs other college age risks like drunk driving

I have a HS Sr and looks like the state meet – relays and all – will be going off this month

I’d be filing an injunction if not. You might want to consider doing the same.

Reply to  exswimmer-ish
11 months ago

Wow. Did you even read what he wrote?

Reply to  Walter
11 months ago

I did. I get his note was about accepting.

I’m an advocate of accepting or walking away from things I cannot change.

I this case it was my opinion that he walked away without attempting to change. We’ve seen W&M swimming etc restored by parents and alums not accepting decisions without attempting to change. I see this no differently. Dont you?

This IS completely his decision, and I hope he’s at peace with it. I wouldn’t follow his path unless my child asked me not to try.

Just seems a shame to have a young athlete so close after years of swimming to not attempt to alter course.

Hopefully I’ve been respectful to him his child and… Read more »

Reply to  Exswimmerish
11 months ago

I’m not sure how much of a battle can be blazed in such a short time, and I feel as though there is a difference between battling a singular school’s decision about a specific sport being reinstated, and organizing multiple schools to take on the NCAA. I have a senior that is crossing her fingers that she will have a season, and hopefully NCAA’s. Her sport hasn’t had a season since 2019, because of Covid. She hasn’t quit training for more than a week since March of 2020. She’s had the summer games trials postponed 3 times now, and still has her heart set on Olympic dreams.

I think the athletes realize that they can only control what they do,… Read more »

Reply to  Exswimmerish
11 months ago

You’re missing the fact that the daughter – the swimmer – is totally fine with it and happily sledding. All athletic careers come to an end…and all parents living vicariously thru their child’s athletic careers will end too.

D3 Swimmer
Reply to  exswimmer-ish
11 months ago

Uhm you realize they weren’t cancelled because of COVID right?

Irish Ringer
Reply to  D3 Swimmer
11 months ago

They cancelled them because of not enough winter participation from D3 teams which was due to covid, so they were cancelled as a result of Covid.

Reply to  exswimmer-ish
11 months ago

Around 10,000 Americans die from drunk driving every year. Covid has killed over 400,000. You Covid deniers are just flat out dumb and need a reality check of what’s important

Reply to  Hillbilly
11 months ago

And, the more obvious – there is no noteworthy correlation between “having large gatherings” and “drunk driving deaths.” There is, however, a correlation between “having large gatherings” and “spread of COVID.”

11 months ago

Accepting that you don’t have the power to change the situation is difficult but necessary in these cases. Knowing that your career and how it continues and then ends is still in your hands. College doesn’t have to be the end. This season doesn’t have to end like this. It is all about commitment to yourself and your goals, even if that goal is to finish at the top of your game. Swimming will return. And there is nothing that says you have to stop by a certain age. These are times when we have to realize this because there are so many unknowns.

Irish Ringer
Reply to  SwimCoachDad
11 months ago

There’s nothing to say you have to stop at a certain age, but if your a 5th year senior it maybe time to move on to the next stage of your life. That’s why it’s devastating to have the championships cancelled. One could agree with the rationale and still be upset by this, because these opportunities don’t last forever.

11 months ago

Important to acknowledge she was lucky to have had the chance to compete… unlike half of the D3 programs that had cancelled seasons and never even had a chance to qualify for NCAAs

Still a good lesson to learn about our emotional responses as parents

Last edited 11 months ago by Swimmermom34
Olympunks & Gamester Bullies
11 months ago

Congratulations on accepting your “soft landing” as a parent…so many parents won’t take that hint from their kids and then take actions that embarrass their own kid and thus damage their relationship with their kid, coach and swim community.

11 months ago

Cancelling D3 NCAA’s is a bunch of poop. Why can’t the NCAA/D3 school reward those kids who stuck it and followed C19 protocol through out the year. So what if they have a couple events with less than 24 swimmers. In North Texas in November and December we had club meets, prem/final, with more than 400 swimmers. No C19 issues for any of those kids afterward since they were social distancing procedures set in place and the kids followed them. The NCAA’s and USA Swimming are so gun shy about hosting meets of any size right now. It’s really sad for all these athletes, especially seniors, who wanted just one more shot.

Grandmother of an athlete
11 months ago


11 months ago

Whiskey time