SwimSwam welcomes reader submissions about all topics aquatic, and if it’s well-written and well-thought, we might just post it under our “Shouts from the Stands” series. We don’t necessarily endorse the content of the Shouts from the Stands posts, and the opinions remain those of their authors. If you have thoughts to share, please send [email protected]
This “Shouts from the Stands” submission comes from Bob Goldberg, the former head coach at the University of Connecticut.
An annual rite of passage in the fall in New England is raking leaves. As a boy, I raked leaves at my parent’s house, a job I hated because it kept me from whatever the kids on the street were doing at the moment. During my working years, it was a chore that was necessary, one that often came before family activities on the weekend.
Now, as a retiree, I am able to spend time as I choose and find an hour here and there where clearing leaves is actually a rather pleasant task. Today I saw leaves of so many colors and shapes that they became a fascination. Today it was not a job just to get done, but a task that caused me to reflect.
What if, I thought, this is the last time for whatever reasons I rake leaves. What if the colors are not as vibrant next year? What if bad weather makes it impossible to rake leaves next year and they remain over the winter and cause damage? Now is the time to appreciate the leaves.
In that light, the time to appreciate being a coach is now. I was so fortunate to coach and teach on the college level for 46 years. Like leaves, each kid on the team had a uniqueness, every practice had moments to both remember (and forget), and every meet and every trip had special memories and moments. Just as the fall leaves have colors and shapes that make them unique, every part of your program needs to have its own importance.
As a coach, treat every facet of your job as a ‘what if’ moment. Don’t miss those special moments that just happen. Appreciate them, recognize them and share them with your team, your fellow coaches and all the support people in your world. If your goal is simply to finish a practice of 7,000 yards and beat the traffic home, you are missing so much. Our sport values finishing races strong, but all the many experiences that go into finishing is what the sport, coaching and the experience are about and what makes being a coach so special.
Recognize those ‘what if’ moments in your day. As I look at the leaves I think back to each kid on each team and those moments that made the job so special to me. At some time in the future, you will have time to rake leaves and think back. Cherish your own ‘what if ‘ moments today.
About Bob Goldberg
Bob Goldberg was the head swim coach at the University of Connecticut for 29 years and spent a total of 46 years coaching before retiring after the 2016-17 season. Goldberg’s teams consistently performed at a very high level, finishing each of his 29 seasons with a winning dual meet record at UConn. Goldberg is originally from Watertown, Mass., and has a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Springfield College and a master’s degree in biomechanics from Penn State. He is married to Alyce (Parrish) and they have three children, David, Scott and Sarah, and six grandchildren.