2009 Program News

10/23/09: Week 6 Recap: Finale of ICECP Educational Program

wk6“Throughout the program, I sometimes felt homesick and wanted to go home. But now that it’s time to go, I don’t want to leave.”

Ernesto Selva’s sentiments are shared by all the ICECP participants and program administrators as the educational portion of the program comes to a close. With the conclusion of Week 6 on Saturday, participants will head back to their home countries and begin implementing their personal projects.

In the final week of ICECP, conducted at the US Olympic Training Center at Colorado Springs, participants attended several classes, met with their tutors, finalized their projects and went to an NBA basketball game.

With much of the week set aside for tutor meetings and project development, the coaches enjoyed a lighter class schedule. They attended 11 cl asses between Monday and Wednesday and spent the rest of the week getting their projects ready to present and implement.

Topics in Week 6 included mental preparation for athletes and coaches, nutrition periodization, team building and cohesion, anti-doping policy and procedure and international sport structure case studies.

USOC senior sport psychologists Sean McCann and Kirsten Peterson discussed mental preparation and got the coaches thinking about how physical and psychological training and planning are both vital to creating elite athletes. Both of their presentations invoked the participation and discussion of the coaches as to how, when and why they use psychological tactics and preparation.

Gabrielli Qoro, the national jumps coach in Fiji, found the sport psychology presentation to be thewk6 most beneficial of Week 6.

“The fact that we don’t have sport psychologists in Fiji and only three certified psychologists in the whole country” made the information presented invaluable, he said. With a better base knowledge in sport psychology and its importance to training and competing with elite athletes, Qoro said he will be able to better blend mental preparation into his program.

Alicia Kendig, a sports nutritionist with the USOC’s Sport Performance division, talked to the coaches about periodizing nutrition plans to match up with long-term training plans. She also presented on the basics of sport nutrition so that the coaches could transfer that base knowledge to their athletes.

Freestyle wrestling national team coach Zeke Jones gave the coaches insight into how he runs an elite, national-level program by taking them through his preparation and follow-up work for the recent world championship. His presentation gave them an inside look at the administrative side of running a national-level team.

Besides lectures and presentations, the coaches also attended two interactive, question-and-answer sessions. The first was with a panel of OTC resident athletes and the second was with a panel of resident coaches.

The discussions allowed the participants to delve into the minds of the type of athletes they work with on a daily basis as well as the minds of their coaching peers.

The coaches got a break from the workload with a trip to Denver on Tuesday night to see the NBA’s Denver Nuggets play the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves.

Participants and ICECP staff also joined together to support Igor Paskoski, Macedonia’s national senior judo team head coach, as he took an examination to be certified as a 3rd DAN black belt. The examination was administered by Nabil Elalem (Libya) and Ian Weithers (Barbados). Paskoski successfully earned his 3rd DAN and had many of his ICECP peers on hand to congratulate him.

When they weren’t in class or cheering on the Nuggets and their judo peer, the coaches were putting the finishing touches on their projects. Program tutors arrived on Wednesday and worked with their group of coaches to make sure everything is in place.

wk6“My tutor [Barbara Daniels] has been very helpful,” said Patricio F. Bridgewater, the national volleyball team head coach in the Netherlands Antilles.

“She doesn’t dictate or lecture. She listens and helps guide me to the right answer for my project so I can implement it properly. I feel comfortable working with her and felt like she really helped me refine my project.”

Togo’s Misshame Anareme has had a similarly positive and productive relationship with his tutor, Dr. Matthew Robinson.

“Dr. Matt corrected some mistakes I had in my project. He listens to what I want to do in my country for basketball and he helped modify my project so I can implement it in the next six months. He said he will stay in touch while I am implementing my plan, so I know he will always be there to help me.”

Since their first project presentations in Week 2, all the coaches have infused information gained from their apprenticeships, classes at the OTC, feedback from their tutors and interaction with their peers.

Each participant’s project now has a critical path and implementation plan, so when they return home they can hit the ground running. Participants will present their updated project plans on Friday and Saturday for a final review before they take the step from project planning to project implementation.   

After their presentations, the coaches will depart from Colorado Springs for home. They will have plenty to keep them busy between now and May, when they will come together at the IOC headquarters in Switzerland to present the results and progress of their projects to the IOC academic board.

Overall, the ICECP educational program has been quite a handful for participating coaches. But the experience has been overwhelmingly positive.

While giving his lecture, McCann noted the difficulty each coach faces every day.

“An international coach working here [at the USOTC] told me that he noticed that when athletes do well, they thank God, but when they fail, they blame the coach.”

As national-level coaches, the participants all face hardships and work in a results-driven business. They also have dreams, ambitions and plans for growing and improving their sport and sport structure at home.

ICECP has given them the tools and structure to face those hardships and make those dreams into reality.

“The best thing about this program is that it makes you get up and do something you always wanted to do,” Selva said.

Tatenda Guta, Zimbabwe’s national judo coach, feels ready to take on a world of new coaching challenges as the educational program comes to a close.

“ICECP has increased my theoretical and practical knowledge of sport science and coaching. It has awakened strengths in me that I didn’t know I had. The whole experience has been very eye-opening.”

Guta said that from the time he arrived in Delaware, he could see and feel himself growing as a coach. He said he has bonded with and learned from all of his ICECP peers.

“Due to national problems and isolation in Zimbabwe, it’s been a long time since I’ve been a part of a global community,” Guta said. “In ICECP, there are many people, many voices and different cultures, but all share the same agenda and are unified by sport.”