March 30, 2007

What can you say but wow! We've been watching the World Championships every day this week and as when they were in Perth in 1998 and Fukuoka in 2001, they are the best in world swimming - better in many ways than the Olympics themselves. Phelps going 1:52.09 in the 2Fly? Amazing stuff. Maybe I'm getting old, but it doesn't seem that long ago when I was standing next to his coach as he made his first Olympic team in 2000.

Fast-forward to now, and I'm not some young hotshot at a Big Ten school, rubbing elbows with the swimming stars, yet I get a lot more satisfaction from being able to work day-in, day-out with guys who are every bit as competitive and hard-working but who swim for the love of their team or their sport. While I might not coach any more Olympians or American Record-Holders, I now get to appreciate even more things about this sport and the guys who are a part of it.

Not sure who wrote it, but this if from page 38 of the Carthage Team Guidebook:

“It’s not about getting a scholarship, getting drafted, or making SportsCenter. It’s a deep need in us that comes from the heart. We need to practice, to play, to lift, to hustle, to sweat. We do it all for our teammates and for the student in our calculus class that we don’t even know. We don’t practice with a future major league first baseman; we practice with a future sports agent. We don’t lift weights with a future Olympic wrestler; we lift with a future doctor. We don’t run with a future Wimbledon champion; we run with a future CEO. It’s a bigger part of us than our friends and family can understand. Sometimes we play for 2,000 fans; sometimes 25. But we still play hard. You cheer for us because you know us. You know more than just our names. Like all of you, we are students first. We don’t sign autographs. But we do sign graduate school applications, MCAT exams, and student body petitions. When we miss a kick or stroke out, we don’t let down an entire state. We only let down our teammates, coaches, and fans. But the hurt is still the same. We train hard, swim, lift, throw, run, kick, tackle, shoot, dribble, and swim some more, and in the morning we go to class. And in that class we are nothing more than students. It’s about pride – in ourselves, in our school. It’s about our love and passion for the game. And when it’s over, when we walk off the court or field for the last time, our hearts crumble. Those tears are real. But deep down inside, we are very proud of ourselves. We will forever be what few can claim…college athletes.” – Anonymous



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