Earlier this week it was National Coaches Day. This was news to me when I read it on social media, so I did a Google search to make sure it was correct. Not that Google is any more accurate than Twitter…

So I tweeted out a picture of Tim Welsh and I. Tim was my coach at Notre Dame. And as you know – or might guess – he is much more to me than “just” a coach. But isn’t that what coaches should be: more than a coach? Not really…what they should be is more than “just” a coach of their sport. They should be a coach in all areas of their athletes’ lives.

I heard this best stated by Tim Welsh just a few weeks ago. He shared the following sentiments during an interview at the American Swimming Coaches Association annual convention:

Coaching is teaching; coaching is teaching at a very high level. And I don’t mean “high level” because the performance level is high. I mean a high level because when you coach, everything about your athlete matters. Their health matters, their attitude matters, their school work matters, their friends matter. Everything matters. So what you wind up coaching…you coach swimming, but you teach life.

And life is beautiful, and it’s hard as can be, and it’s challenging, and it’s rewarding. And it’s just like practice. If practice isn’t hard, it doesn’t work. If it’s not beautiful, we don’t stay with it. If we don’t love it, we get out of the game. But when you coach, you love the people who are on your team, you love the people who are in your sport, you love the colleagues who are in your sport. It’s life at a very high level.

When you coach, all of life is relevant to what happens. Because the whole person steps up to race. It’s not just your bones, the whole person steps up to race.

I don’t think you put anything “into” the athlete. I think the athlete is receptive. And I think you offer ideas, you offer love, you offer hope, you offer challenge, you offer respect, you offer support. You offer everything you’ve got. But it’s the athlete who has to be receptive.

We need more coaches like Tim Welsh. We need more coaches who offer love, hope, respect, and support to their athletes. We need more coaches who care about everything in their athletes’ lives, because those athletes bring everything in their lives to practice, and to competition.

Tim, you gave your swimmers everything you’ve got. And we are better people because of it.

Tim Welsh full ASCA interview