The time has come, and I have started my last season with West Covina High School Aquatics. I have announced it to the administration, students and alumni but it still seems unreal. I have found quality coaches to take over the program after I leave, in hope that the program can grow with the remodeling of Edgewood Pool into a REAL aquatics facility. I hope things go as according to plan, and this letter will be addressed to the person I recommended, but if not, I have some words for the future coach.
About five years ago, I was in your position as I started my journey with West Covina’s aquatics program. I had watched the program for several years as a coach within the league. I didn’t know too much about the program, but I decided to take my knowledge, experience and heart to West Covina. All I knew was they had a losing record with no pool. I went from being a part of one of the top teams in the area to a program many people didn’t know existed. When first interviewing with the athletic director, I was told they have had five coaches in the past four years. When taking over, I was relieving the girls’ basketball coach from the position. During my second interview, I met with three athletes who made me realize that West Covina was where I belonged. These athletes had heart and the desire to be successful, but did not have the knowledge or experience behind them. I promised them that I would break the streak of coaches constantly leaving the program. They practically begged me to push them to their limits and teach them all I knew. To take over this program, I have learned you need to understand that many people have given up on them without giving them the opportunity to grow.
Though you are receiving the same “losing record with no pool”, you are not receiving the same program. You are adopting my blood, sweat and tears. While it is all not visible on a win/loss record, this program has grown tremendously. In the short amount of time I was with West Covina, I have grown very attached and protective over this program. It was extremely difficult and it took all of my energy… every last drop. When you receive your keys, you are receiving access to very different equipment than I first had. I took over a program with more basketballs than water polo balls. The program had game/ practice caps with rodent feces and the smell of mildew all over them. I ran a “game clock” from my cell phone numerous times, because our so-called scoreboard system did not work properly. The program raised funds and fought hard to receive the items we desperately needed and deserved. Fortunately, we have had amazing athletic directors, Brian Murphy and Brian Barnes, who supported us as a growing program and believed in my system. Between fundraising and our athletic department fund, we received new balls, kickboard, buoys, storage carts, scoreboard system, game caps, and goals. ALL WITHIN ONE YEAR. Every year, the athletic department now pays for our balls, caps and game suits. A huge victory for this program.
These young athletes need someone who truly believes that West Covina could very well be a league champion, but trains them to be a CIF winning team. They need someone who cares about their past, present and future. They need someone to push them to succeed, not only in the pool but in school, because some of these athletes don’t have someone at home to do so. They need someone who will build bonds with each player, and not just the ones with talent. They need someone to be their voice, because being an off-campus sport, they are forgotten. They need who has high expectations, but motivates them to meet those expectations. They need someone who can see the good in a loss, and the mistakes in a win. They need someone who will continue to laugh with them, but remind them there’s a time and place. I really hope you can be the coach they need.
I am writing to you now, because I truly care about West Covina, but I must leave for this program to continue its growth. I have made the drive from Garden Grove to West Covina for too long, and it is time for me to focus on my personal needs. With the birth of my daughter, I no longer have the same time to commit myself to the long hours away from home and ultimately, away from her. With Edgewood being remodeled, I believe that is a fresh start for the program. I honestly think the root of many problems begin with the outdated pool. I hope you are excited for the adventure that awaits, and I wish you and the program nothing but success.