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Jan 2, 2013

Space Dragons 2013! Part 1: The Coaching Staff

Welcome to the 2013 Space Dragons season!!
I hope you all had a restful off-season and pre-season, because the 2013 season officially starts NOW!

There's a good amount of information to shell out, so it'll come out in installments over the next several days.  And here's installment number one: The Coaching Staff

Someone asked me a few months ago why we have so many coaches.  Specifically, we have seven coaches for a team of 50-70 paddlers (including coaches).  That's a whopping 10+% of the team, which can seem like a lot.  I mean, why do we need so many coaches anyway?

We typically pull together three mixed crews for Big LB and TI.  We should theoretically have enough coaches to run three boats during the peak of the season, so that's three coaches minimum.  Plus, coaches need some paddling time, so that adds a few more.  We also want some overlap between new and experienced coaches when there is turnover.  Finally, it's a long season, and in order not to get burnt out after one or two seasons, coaches need to have the flexibility to take weekends off to put toward other interests, family and vacations.  The coaches are all volunteers, with our own paddling goals and lives outside of paddling, so it's important that we have enough support in case work travel, injuries, babies, or LIFE gets in the way.  So, seven has been the magic number for our team for the last several years (an odd number because there are inevitably tough decisions that are made for every tournament that require a tie-breaker vote).  The bonus is that when we do have a surplus of coaches present at any given practice, we can do more 1-on-1 bench coaching.

This year, we had to select new coaches to replace Brian and Galen, who have moved on to bigger and better things (as if there is anything bigger and better than Space, pshh!).  Selecting new coaches is not an easy process, and it always involves hours of discussion.  To give you an idea of what that process is, the coaches meet (or phone in if they're out of town) to discuss who we think would make a good addition to the coaching staff.

But let me digress for a second, because who are we to say what makes a "good" coach?  Well, it's actually all the feedback that many of YOU have provided over the last few years that guides us.  So what are traits of a good coach?  Leading by example, understanding and communicating technique well, demonstrating dedication, providing morale support to teammates, and being someone that people trust to have the best interests of the team as a whole and each individual in mind.  These are just a few of the traits that were echoed by probably 30+ paddlers on our team over the last few years.  Obviously there isn't a single coaching style that is effective for everyone, so in addition to looking for the above traits, we also aim to build a diverse coaching staff to make sure Mens/Womens and Masters/Kiddos are all well represented.

So now back to the process.  We start by brainstorming, basically tossing everyone we think might have potential onto a list, which sometimes has up to 15-20 people.  If you've been around for a few years and come out to most practices, you probably were on that list.  Through a lengthy discussion using the above traits to guide us, we whittle it down until we reach our magic number seven again.

So finally, let me introduce the 2013 Space Dragons coaching staff.  Returning, we have myself, Rod, Devant, Esmer and Robert.  New to this season are Lesley and Roger.  Lesley "Guns" Kwan is a great example of what dedication, enthusiasm and a positive attitude can bring to the team, and her addition will provide much needed backup to the Ladies boat.  Roger "Ironman" Lee has been leading the team as a Captain for a couple years now, and as a coach, he will be taking over Land Drills and other fitness-related activities.

As usual, if you have any questions or suggestions regarding the process or the decisions made, please don't hesitate to talk to me or any of the other coaches!