2011 Program News

Coaches Start Module III with Tour, Presentations, and Athlete Panel

The coaches started Module III at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs early Friday morning.

After a short introduction from Carolina Bayón, the coaches received a tour of the OTC. The coaches were first shown a short movie highlighting some triumphs of Team USA at the Vancouver Olympics and previewing the upcoming Summer Games in London. The coaches saw the facility’s Sports Medicine area, and also saw the gym where the men’s gymnastics team trains. They also saw the swimming, shooting, wrestling, and weightlifting facilities.

Once the tour was completed and many pictures were taken, the coaches returned to the Athlete Center to start their apprenticeship presentations. The coaches explained about their experiences and what they learned from their different apprenticeships. They each shared so much information that more time was needed than was originally allotted for the presentations.

Because the presentations went longer than expected, the participants had a short lunch before returning back for a question and answer session with a panel of different athletes and coaches. This panel included Dave Denniston, the coach of the U.S. Paralympic Swimming Team, Victoria Anthony and Adeline Gray, both girls training to try and make the U.S. Wrestling Team, Caroline White and Mark Fretta, who are training to try and qualify for the Olympics in the marathon and triathlon, respectively, and Jason Pryor, an eppe fencer also training to try and make the U.S. Fencing Team.

The coaches asked some very good questions and received different opinions and answers from the entire panel. One of the first questions asked was what they each look for in a coach. Mark explained that good communication is a big part, especially as a triathlete. He explained about the different role of a coach for his sport and how much of an impact good communication has. Adeline and Victoria both explained they are more comfortable with a coach that is familiar with them and knows who they are. They said it makes things easier when their coach asks how their day was or how their family is doing. It also helps when the coach knows they need a kick in the butt to be pushed at practice or when to back off a little.

One coach brought up the topic of video analysis. The athletes’ responses were very different, as would be expected with very different sports. Caroline explained she normally doesn’t like to use video unless she has an expert analyzing it. As a coach, Dave said that sometimes it is easier to keep things simple. He said with high tech equipment there are more chances for things to go wrong, so it is easier for him to record something on his iPhone and rewind it back to show the swimmer right away.

The big question of the afternoon asked how important family was to the athletes. Adeline said she got where she is today because of her family. When she was younger, her family went to wrestling tournaments on Sundays, and that was what they did. Her uncle was her coach and her dad did all of her fundraising to help get her to tournaments. Victoria originally competed in judo, but her dad suggested she try wrestling when she got hurt. She thought it was crazy at first that she competed against boys in high school, but she appreciates it now. As a coach, Dave has seen the difference between a controlling, overbearing family and one that is supportive. He said an athlete can be successful either way, but it is much easier when the family is supportive. Caroline said that coaches have to realize they are not able to change or control the families of their athletes and that different families have different tendencies. She also suggested that it is important for athletes to find healthy support elsewhere if they are not receiving it from their family. Mark added how important it is to be able to gather support from your teammates, and that living at the training center helps with that. He said that when things are going well it is easy to find support but it is when things aren’t going well that support is really needed. Jason said, “I definitely wouldn’t be here if not for my family.” His dad took him to all of his tournaments before he was 18 and his parents went to all of his conference and national tournaments when he was in college. Before college, Jason thought he wanted to quit fencing, but his father suggested he try one more year and then make up his mind. He ended up sticking with it and told his parents he indefinitely wanted to keep fencing, and is now training for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. He said his parents supported his decision, which will span much longer since he is not training for the 2012 Olympics.

After the athlete panel ended, the coaches received their first lectures of Module III. First was Tom Avischious with a Coaching Education Curriculum and Club Development Model for USA Swimming. After Tom was a session on Developmental Strength with Rob Schwartz.

Some of the coaches finished off their first day in Colorado watching the movie Robin Hood, while others just relaxed and caught up with each other.