I coach a swim team during the summer, which makes my summers pretty hectic. This summer, our team consist of almost 180 swimmers ages 4-18. We practice everyday from 8 AM to 11 AM, and we just finished a stretch of competing in 7 meets in 40 days.
I could list out many more details, but just know that for about 10 weeks during the summer, I add an extra 30-35 hours of work to my plate each week. It’s challenging because I have to continue to run my business and, of course, invest in my family during this time as well. (If you’d like to read more about how I do this without going crazy, be sure to read my blog entitled Thoughts On Success – 5 Reason Why It’s Okay To Be Super Busy And Out Of Balance.)
Often I’m asked, “But Kent, why coach a swim team?” Well, there are tons of reason…
- I love the sport.
- I love working with young people even more!
- I love the fact that all the families who have swimmers on our team live within a few miles of our pool…it’s truly a community team.
- I love sharing thoughts on success about life and leadership through the sport of swimming.
Again, I could list out more reasons, but you get the picture. To me, serving my community is worth the investment of time, energy, and focus. The opportunity to encourage and build others up, as well as the joy and satisfaction I gain in return are well worth the investment.
This year there was a young man on our team that made serving extra special. He’s a 15 year old swimmer named Joseph. Joseph has Down Syndrome, and what makes him being on our team so special are two specific things.
First, no one swims with more joy than Joseph. He even swims butterfly, the most challenging stroke, with a smile on his face. Even as I type, I can see Joseph swimming in my mind and can’t help but smile.
Second, my 15-18 year old swimmers embraced and loved Joseph with open arms. At the beginning of the season, all I had to say to them was, “We have a 15 year old swimmer on our team this year with special needs, and I would really love it if you guys and gals made him feel like part of the team.” That’s it; I didn’t have to say another word. Joseph quickly became one of the guys. He cheered for his new friends when they were swimming, and his new friends cheered for him when he was swimming. Joseph even swam relays with our 15-18 year old. It was a sight to see!
Is serving your community really worth it? For me, the answer is a definite YES! We had a tough season this year in regards to our won-loss record, but in the areas that mattered most, I was as proud of my team as I’ve ever been…especially my high school swimmers and my assistant and junior coaches. Often we hear about the “bad things” high-schoolers do, but as someone who works with young people day-in and day-out, I get a front-row seat to seeing many of the great things they do. And this summer, I was blown away!