“I hope these next few months, you learn more than just how to swim. I hope you learn lessons you’ll be able to apply to life.” I’m a swim coach at a high school. One of the perks of my job is being allowed to make motivational speeches.
My hero in this regard is the basketball coach, Pat Riley. Once at halftime he had a bucket of water in front of him as he spoke. He told his team you had to want victory as bad as a drowning man wants that last breath. He then proceeded to submerge his head in the bucket. A minute passed and then another. What was once a routine pep talk became a moment no one in that locker room would ever forget. His players and assistants grew concerned that Coach Riley had died, but then his head came out coughing and gasping. “That’s how bad you need to want it.” He said as he walked out to the court. His team followed him and turned a ten point deficit into a twenty point victory.
I don’t imagine I’ll ever make a speech as memorable as that one. But I try to sprinkle life lessons into all my spiels. “When you get to that starting block put everything you’ve got into it, otherwise you’re just going back and forth and ending up at the same place you started.” My metaphors are mixed and so is the effect it has on my teenaged pupils. I lack the commitment Coach Riley has. If I see one pair of eyes glazed in boredom I tend to wrap up my sermon. Usually in lackluster fashion. “And dare to dream maybe one day you too can become a swim coach.”