All my life, I have been a swimmer. I have participated on a recreational, competitive, and an elite level, but, recently, the tables turned. I became the one directing and carrying out practices. I became the face kids looked forward to seeing every day.
I began coaching two years ago for a summer league swim team. The team allows any kid and any teen, ages 5-18, to swim and experience the unity of swimming. Although coaching is technically work, I would never refer to it that way. Coaching was an amazing experience that has brought me so much joy. Each morning, Monday thru Friday, the swimmers would jump out of their mom’s car and sprint through the gate with the biggest smiles on their faces. These huge smiles were what got me through the morning. Just knowing how happy they were to come to practice made me ecstatic. I knew, at that moment, that I was a part of something bigger than me, and it was my duty to make their summer worthwhile.
The past two summers, I have realized how much the kids look up to and admire me. After each season, I have received emails from parents about their child’s progress. The little ones had so much fun with me, their family made the decision to continue with the sport on a year-round club team. The kids have adopted a love for the sport and I have never felt more accomplished.
The impact that I make on the swimmers is incredible, and this impact is not only lasting in the pool. I am able to take my authority and teach kids life lessons that go far beyond the sport. Sportsmanship is what we, the coaches, promote most for the team. This lesson helps the swimmers both in and outside of the water. The fundamental aspects of sportsmanship are what matters most. Wins and losses still carry some weight, but are not as significant as shaking hands with your opponent.
Not only have I been able to spread what I know, the swimmers have taught me to value so much more than I ever have. I have learned to value the importance of the small things in life. The swimmers always find a way to do small things to make my day go just a tad bit better. The impact on the swimmers from my coaching abilities will last a lifetime, and I’m proud to be the cause of something bigger than me.
Carolyn Postell lives in Sugar Hill with her parents and two younger sisters. She is a junior at North Gwinnett High School. Her interests include writing and spending time with her friends.