Whoa. That's pretty much the biggest accomplishment I've ever received in my career. I've had a pretty good year, having my MEMO team do well at the Pacific Masters Championship; being selected to speak in the 2012 Pacific Coaches Clinic; and being named as one of the All Star Coaches at this summer's Western Zone Championships in Grand Junction, Colorado. But this is international -- wearing the gear, walking in the opening ceremonies, hearing "U-S-A, U-S-A," and coaching some really fast folks.
Okay, it would help if I'd ever dreamed about this. It's not the same as my day job where I remind people to keep their "eyes on the sky" in backstroke. The only time I've ever been named Coach of the Year was in 2006 on a display plaque at the local trophy store. They needed to show off their new eco-friendly sustainable wood model and so I suggested my name. It really wasn't a tough sell, as it was going to be either John Smith or Bud Weiser.
I've toiled in the trenches for 20 years, and am still amazed that anyone picked me. Usually coaches are named to big teams when they have lots of their own athletes qualify for that same meet. Someone works with kids for 12 years, getting them from DQing every race to Top 10 in their age group; then that kid goes to college and improves the same percentage that everyone else there does - and the college coach has rose petals thrown at her feet as she flies off to the Olympics. The developmental coaches (we have a name now) are pretty much forgotten, and are generally considered to be inferior. Granted, the high-achieving athletes are high maintenance. But at least they know what an interval is and how to read (not to mention actually see) the clock. I am on my 15 millionth time (next Thursday) of saying "streamline."
But, lest anyone think I want that, I've got to say that this is the place for me. This is the job that I was made for. I've coached a high-powered high school team for five years and was consumed by their training and their problems, both in the water and out. I assisted at San Francisco State for five years, refereeing so many personnel battles that I could get a great job with the WWF. In my years coaching the women at Laney College I've coached workouts with only two people and then had to seperate them because one had stolen the other's boyfriend. But I've found my niche in Oakland. I've found my team with MEMO. But it's great to get out once in awhile.