On our first day of practice, Nov. 15, 2001, I passed out a 3 page listing of various activities and such for the team's knowledge.
The HS AD and both Principals got copies of this by Nov. 16.
Here is one such change to that handout I've made -- so as to be "PERFECTLY CLEAR."
Reactions and feedback welcomed.
snip #1 --- A Lesson's Time and Space
There are no optional and no mandatory practices. Those terms hold us back. "Don't let the chains hold us back." Every event is a date. Always act with personal integrity. end snip #1 ---
Please understand this: Nothing within my program has the designation of "MANDATORY."
I tell the swimmers and their families that I try as best as possible to look at both the big picture and the small picture. If someone has out of town guest or even travels out of town on Thanksgiving -- fine -- I understand that. That is a look at the big picture of life. Visiting grandma in New York with a family trip is more important than being at a holiday practice. That is my approach.
Furthermore, I want to know in advance in writing that the athlete is going to be away then -- however. I treat each practice/session/lesson like a "date." I don't like to be "stood up" on a date without advance notice. I want the athlete to tell me and leave me a note -- not the parent.
This advance notice calls for personal integrity and being curious, I feel. There are fewer rules in my program -- but there are higher expectations as I'm going to hold the kids to higher behaviors from themselves by my expectations and my interactions with them.
I don't have built in penalties for missed practices and such. I feel that in life, very little in life is "MANDATORY" and most of things are "optional." So too is the lifestyle of being an athlete and striving for personal excellence.
People get to make choices in the real world. I want my program to be a spring-board to life -- and we want to develop skills for the athletes that are smoothly transferable to other life challenges. On the other hand, my swim program is NOT like an academic program or the operation of the H.S.
Many things in academics are MANDATORY. Rambling off.
Sun. Nov 21 Join wrestlers at HS for gym and plyometrics at 1:00-2:00. Mark will be there. end snip #2
---- Notice, this event, has been changed on the "official" schedule. It now reads:
snip #3 --- Sun. Nov 21 Opportunity to join wrestlers at HS for open gym at 1:00-2:00. Mark will be there. end snip #3 ---
From my perspective, an open gym opportunity for the swim team and divers (as well as other in the greater HS community) -- when we are NOT going to the pool, when we are playing with another squad, when we are there for 1-hour, when it is on a SUNDAY, and when everything in my program is optional --- is NOT a practice.
The remark from a page in the handbook said the following:
3. No team representing a P.I.A.A. member school may practice or participate in any interscholastic athletic contest on more than six days in any calendar week during the regular season. Furthermore, this rule is easily side-stepped on many weeks of the season at many different schools when a swim teams compete in weekend meets within their "CLUB" setting. The HS coach has practices Monday through Friday and then the team swims a CLUB meet on Saturday and Sunday. Often the same coach is with the kids on the team(s) day-in-and-day-out months on end, yet alone never for 7 consecutive days. The reasoning -- and it is legit justifications -- is the fact that the HS team is not this CLUB team. Hence, everything is okay.
Here, at CM, the kids are at a disadvantage because there is such a floundering club that has a counter-effect with the overall program. The kids at USC, BP, Mt. Lebo all have it much better than those at CM. All of those coaches are seeing all of their kids 7-days per week for weeks on end.
At another time and place in my career, I recall years when I had two days off. One was Christmas, the other day off was Easter. On all other days I was working with the kids in some capacity.
I am sure that Julie Rocks, a former coach, went to 2-day meets with some of the kids after a week of practices. I think we all agree that we want to be competitive and we want to be within the framework of the rules as well. Both are going to occur without doubt. And, we also need to keep a clear perspective on how we want to build the program for the future as I feel some of the program's infrastructure is in dire need of attention for long-term considerations.
Hence, the serious attention to the passed memo with the highlighted area that came to me from the AD.
I hope this makes sense. Thanks for listening.