I have been writing for the website for the past seven months or so. I have tried my hardest to remain anonymous while writing about the athletes I’ve coached over the past three seasons. If you’ve followed my entries as "Coach Black," you know that I have moved on from coaching Division I athletes to…something new.
Before unveiling my true identity, however, I want to explain why I was once anonymous. First and foremost, it was to protect the identity of the athletes with whom I worked. It is hard enough to train and compete at the Division I level without having to read about what you are doing on a daily basis. I really enjoyed using the color themes for the athletes as well. Occasionally one of them would stumble onto the Go Swim website and read the articles by Coach Black. They would recognize some peculiar similarities between them and the theoretical athletes of a multitude of colors. When they asked if I was Coach Black, I would plead my ignorance on the matter. In front of athletes, that is not a really hard thing for me to do; sometimes, for fun, I try to plead my intelligence.
I think readers benefitted from my anonymity as well. While a real coach wrote all of the articles, ANY coach could have written them. I know that when I read articles by coaches, I am biased by who they are. I know what their swimmers have accomplished under them, and that always skews what I think of the information in the article. What I tried to do was simply describe, on a weekly basis, what was happening with the athletes, and between them and me.
Having to keep a written record of the ups, downs, and sideways of a swimming season was incredibly helpful for my development as a coach. I am always trying to learn new things that will make me better at what I am doing; it is that striving-to-be-a-lifelong-learner thing. The Coach Black articles gave me a chance to learn more about myself as a coach. The weekly deadline for posting an entry forced me to think about what was happening on a daily basis. I had to go beyond just thinking about what was happening…I had figure out WHY and HOW things were happening. Throughout the season I took a much more investigative approach to practice. The who, what, where, and why was on my mind every day.
Sitting down to write about what was happening was incredibly therapeutic for me. As everyone knows, there are so many different emotions that emerge throughout a swim season. Writing about them became a way of keeping them in perspective, and of dealing with them constructively. In addition, I was able to get feedback from the discussion board. Putting our season out on display allowed other DB members to give me perspective on the trials and tribulations. I listened even to what Dave had to say.
Lastly, I did it for the same reason that everyone gets into this sport in the first place. It was Fun. One of the funniest human beings ever to walk this earth was the man on the moon, Andy Kaufman. Later in his career, Andy developed an alter ego, Tony Clifton, just for fun. It was entertaining for me to have an alter ego. I hope that my Coach Black wasn’t so abrasive as Tony Clifton was. Occasionally one of my swimmers would stumble on the Go Swim site and read one of the Coach Black articles. He/she would come into practice and tell me, "I KNOW you are Coach Black." I would emphatically deny the accusations, saying, "You KNOW I am illiterate," and that would usually end the debate.
So those are the reasons Why. Now we can explain the Who. Some of you may already know my true identity. For the next few weeks we are going to reveal clues as to who I am. In addition, a piece of my cartoon mask will be removed, to reveal the hideousness that is my true face. I blame my father because my mother is a beautiful woman.
If you guess who I am, e-mail me at: [email protected] and you may or may not win a prize. Probably not. But your name will appear on the list below.
Hometown: East Aurora, NY
The following are excluded from guessing: (Your name will appear on the list if you guess correctly.)
Any of my swimmers
And Bob W.
Anyone who already knows my secret