Wednesday, June 18, 2008

From pool to pool

Glenwood tigers are so cool?

It's an excerpt from one of the cheers that we used to do (the line followed "From city to city, Glenwood girls are oh so pretty" or perhaps "From spot to spot, Glenwood guys are oh so hot"). Of course, it's a swim team cheer, since swimmers have more time when everyone is huddling (and therefore more time to cheer) during their meets. I think it's pretty much a universal, though, and it makes sense: in a sport based on racing (i.e. swimming), when the louder that you are during the event, the better it is, well, you do lots of organized cheers, but in a sport where you really have to be quiet so that people can concentrate before competing (i.e. diving), organized cheers are less common. I'm imagining cheers during golf now, and it's funny. The one diving cheer that we have is Oo sa sa sa:

Oo sa sa sa Oo sa sa sa
Hit 'em in the head with a big keelbasa
Put 'em in a barrel
Roll 'em down the street
Tiger Divers can't be beat!

(repeat many many times, getting louder and faster). Since it was a diving cheer, it was of course my favorite. And the wackiness helps too.

I need to get pictures of the kids or the team or me coaching and put them up here. Or at least the pool. I hesitate to post pictures of other people's small children on the internet, though, just because I'm not an idiot. But here are some funny stories anyway. Most involve small boys, well, because we have a team of 45 or so kids of which 35 or so are small boys. It's pretty absurd. I'm actually not exaggerating there.

Ethan is one of the kids who I worked with years ago before I stayed in Chicago over summers. He and I had a bond way back when; I taught him his back dive and in my last season, neither of us went to all-stars even though both of us would have liked to. When I came to the first meet and started coaching (straight from the airport, I might add), he looked up at me and said "I remember you!" and then paused for a moment before adding "But I don't know your name." It made me smile really really wide. He's now taken to shouting "Hi Liz!" whenever he sees me.

(Yes, people call me Liz here. They always have in Maryland. No, this is not reason for Chicago types to start calling me Liz.)

Gabe (another kid from way back) is trying to learn a front flip with a full twist. Which is some combination of awesome and hilarious. He's a little bit sloppier on the board than a couple other boys in his age group, so he has to do harder dives to keep up with their scores. Of course, he could work on the fundamentals but those are boring. So in an age group where most people do flips or inwards, and the really good kids do one and a halfs or backflips, Gabe is trying a twister. Which gives him a 1.9 DD instead of a 1.6 DD (for the one and a half) or a 1.4 DD (for the flip or the inward). DD is degree of difficulty, a multiplier, which means that Gabe can get scored down by about 20% and still have the same end result. Since the scores hover around five, that's a good point per judge. Of course, he's going up against kids who get sixes and sevens, so he still has to shoot for a five or a five and a half. Of course, in many ways it's easier to get the one and a half up to a six than it is to learn the twister to a five. And he failed it at the meet on Sunday, but he's been doing it pretty well this week, so we'll see what happens. And in the end, if Gabe wants to learn a twister, I'm more than happy to teach him.

The referee for that meet was super super harsh (I could usually understand her calls, but I would have been easier on kids, probably, by virtue of the "they're five years old" factor. I don't have a problem with eight-and-under kids getting cute points). I think she also scored a little bit too much based on splash; there are, of course, some kids (like me, okay) who can't make a big splash no matter what they do. I can go in the water with an almost picture perfect cannon ball and still have not much more than a handful of splash (something I hated as a child). But there are also kids who cannot go in the water without a splash, no matter what they do. Since one of the hallmarks of a good diver is going in perfectly straight; which means without a splash, you can judge a dive to a certain extent based on how much splash it has. Of course, you shouldn't. Because if you do that, then a small person who goes straight in gets a higher score than a big person who goes straight in. And that's not right; no matter how much it may or may not have helped me while I was diving.

Uh. In any case; this harsh referee was obviously tired and cranky for the entire meet (which isn't necessarily her fault) but at the beginning of the meet was chastising our parent rep for some reason. And the parent rep (who does, actually, know me, and has for years), looks over and sees me coaching the kids and doesn't recognize me, and thinks "What on earth is the other team's coach doing with our kids?" Eventually, her daughter (who, by the way, is one of the cutest five year old girls I have ever met) jumps off the board, and I give her some advice, and the mother gets livid. She doesn't realize it's me until someone tells her "That's not the other team's coach; that's Elizabeth," at which point she (apparently) felt rather bad about it. At the end of the meet she commented on my haircut, and she and her daughter said goodbye to me. Which was the only part of the story that I personally experienced, and also made me smile.

I've had some comments from parents who knew me when I was diving telling me that it just feels natural to have me back, and those are probably the best. Sandra, the head coach, has repeatedly said how good it is to have me back (in no small part, I believe, due to the fact that I'm the only member of the assistant coaching staff that does things like show up on time or stay until the end of practice). Which is really, really wonderful.

The hardest part, so far, has been learning all the names. I've never been good with names, and forty-five kids is a lot of names to remember and a lot of people who don't really understand "I have been paying attention, I just don't remember your name." Every day I get a little bit better, and to be honest I've only been coaching for four days, so it's understandable I think. But with 11 eleven-twelve boys, of whom I knew three or four when I was coaching before, it's a lot easier to remember Gabe and Ethan and Tommy and Max from before and a lot harder to learn John and Joey and Billy and Mike and Bobby and... (or whatever their names are). The older kids are easier because I remember more of them and there are fewer of them (although I have a tendency to confuse kids with their older siblings at times). I'll fill out sheets for a couple weeks; that should help. (Who am I kidding; I'll be filling out sheets for the rest of the season in all likelihood).

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