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Being A Coach
December 21th, 2001
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
Most of you probably know by now that I do a whole bunch of different things to keep myself busy, obviously web developing and consulting as well as graphic designing are at the forefront, as of course, is being a student - and everything that goes with that, but most of you probably don’t know among all the other things I do, I’m also a swim coach. So what the heck does that have to do with football - right?

Well as the team I coach had it’s final swim meet of the fall yesterday, and I was strategizing, teaching and routing them on, it occurred to me that there was so much more to being a coach than teaching the individuals how to exceed their own limits, pushing themselves beyond the edge. It was an epiphany of sorts that couldn’t have hit more strongly than when best female and male participants were awarded first place in two respective races.

Setting the stage for you, the modest team I coach has swimmers aged 10-14 and consists of 12 swimmers. About 8 of those swimmers swim twice a week, the rest only once. Sure it’s a small team - but the expression good things come in small packages couldn’t be more right. As the team walked into the pool area they were immediately overwhelmed by the competition - picture the Rams coming to Candlestick in 1994. The other three teams had a minimum of thirty participants each - all of who practice at least three times a week. Can you say underdogs?

As the eyes of my team glazed over the Coach in me started to kick. A pep talk was obviously in order:
“Yes, there are lots of them,” I said.
“But we have all trained hard to be here, I wouldn’t have brought you here if you couldn’t compete and I know that we wont win every race - no team here will do that, but I have full confidence in all of you. I know that we can beat these teams. I know that is what we have worked for, and that when we train everything we do is done to perfection or not at all. That is what I have taught you to strive for - and I know that you will accept no less. This meet is ours, so lets show them just what we are made of.”

Now I know the talk was hardly “win one for the Gipper” caliber but it certainly got the team focused. And after the first race, and the second race you could see the confidence growing inside of the young athletes - placing second and first to start the competition was surely helpful. The team finished the competition with great results all around - every participant walking home with at least one, second place ribbon. Smiles and cheers for each other - it was great to see.

Being the coach of such a team brings overwhelming pride. Watching as an individual reach a goal and knowing that you are a big reason why they reached it is an absolutely phenomenal feeling. Knowing that you have changed an individual, helped build the character of a person - it’s just such an amazing feelings. It is that ability to change lives that makes coaching so great.

It’s a feeling that Steve Mariucci and his staff must be feeling this season. Watching Mooch coach is an inspiration. He is passionate and owns the respect of the entire organization. He is what every coach should strive to be - and not just because of his technical knowledge. There’s a whole lot more to him than that.

Coach Mariucci has taken the underdog 49ers and quickly brought them back to respectability. You can see the change in attitude, the improved play of the athletes, and the swelling confidence that has brought the 49ers back to the playoffs for the first time in three years. He deservers praise for what he has done - but you can bet he will never ask for it.

I know how Mariucci feels. I know that seeing your players, your team - reach heights that neither they, nor those observing could have thought possible, is greater payment than any credit could ever bring. But I know that changing the individual’s lives on the team - inspiring them to be better people is an even greater reward then seeing the players accomplishing their goals. It’s truly a great feeling - and there is no better coach to be experiencing such a feeling than Mariucci.

Talk about it in the 49ers Paradise Forum

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