Sigma Featured Staff Member Of The Week
Wendy is the head coach at our Fort Worth South Elite location of Sigma. Today we interviewed her about her passion and love for the sport, mindset, and her athletic inspirations.
Q: How and when did you become involved in swimming, and eventually coaching?
A: I started competitively swimming when I was 5, in Dodge City, Kansas. I got involved with swimming because my sister swam. After she passed away, I wanted to keep her memory alive by continuing in the sport. My father got transferred to Enid, Oklahoma, where we found a year-round Age Group team called the Aquatic Club of Enid or ACE. After a couple of years my Father ended up managing the team and completing his USA Swimming Coaching certification. My Father had NO background in swimming! But he is a very technical man, so he studied and became the best Coach I ever had. Because of his role with the team, I started teaching lessons at the age of 14 and then obtaining my USA Swimming Coaching certification a couple years after that.
Q: What is a life lesson that you hope your swimmers learn from the sport?
A: THERE ARE SO MANY!!!! I was going to say I hope my swimmers learn the importance of hard and discipline. But of course, to have fun FUN while you are doing it! Which is very much true, but do you know what? I want them to be Confident! I stopped practice this summer because one of my older swimmers said, “I wish I had your confidence!” To which I replied, “Why can’t you?” We ended up having a long conversation with them about the importance of it and what it can do for them. I want them to be confident in whatever they are doing!
Q: Do you believe that mindset is just as important as physical ability?
A: What role does mindset play in swimmers? Mindset is definitely as important as physical ability!! Something my Father would always say to me is, “If you think you can, then you can! If you think you can’t, then you can’t.” Which what he meant by the last part is not necessarily that I physically couldn’t, but that I was setting myself up for failure with that mindset. Which I have found to be completely true in and out of the pool! If you are standing behind the block chewing your nails, head down and thinking “I can’t believe Coach signed me up for 200 Fly….I am going to die!” More than likely you won’t have as good of race as you could have. But if you are standing behind the block with your head up, stretching out, smiling, and thinking, “I can’t believe Coach signed me up for the 200 Fly...I am going to kill this race!” Then you more than likely will swim a great race! Set yourself up for success starting with your mindset!!
Q: What role did your family play in the sport growing up, and what role should family play in swimmers both age group and elite levels?
A: I definitely had a special situation growing up with family in the sport of swimming. Both my parents ended up coaching me, BUT it is because we didn’t have access to such amazing coaches like in the Metroplex. So, because of this I am going to switch which sport I am talking about, because it is the same in any sport. I also played soccer growing up, to which my parents were at almost every game and one of them would be sitting in the car doing work while I practiced. My parents let my coaches take the lead and mold me into the soccer player I was. In both swimming and soccer, I saw my peers get burned out and hate the sport because their parents had their fingers in every aspect of it. I would see those same peers just give up in practice and get in arguing matches with their parents because they hated the sport. Then sadly shortly after they would end up quitting. I believe parents should leave the coaching to the coach. But with that being said I believe you have to form a united front Coach-Swimmer-Parent, to make goals achievable. I have an open door policy with my swimmers and their parents. I want their feedback and I want to address their concerns. You will always see me before or after practice talking with parents and swimmers to ensure we are all on the same track. Most coaches are the same and will want to set up meetings to discuss goals or concerns. A lot of the time as a coach we hear what a parent is seeing their swimmer doing wrong and we have seen it as well. So, we are either addressing it or we know within the coming weeks we will be addressing it. We want the success of each of our swimmers as much as you!
Q: What does coaching the sport mean to you?
A: Coaching the sport of swimming is my world! I absolutely love it!
Q: This past summer was a record breaking drowning season in the state of Texas. What are your thoughts on this, and do you hope more preventive measures will be taken in the future?
A: Oooooof! I see so many children and adults in public swim venues that think they can swim. If you don’t know how to swim there are plenty of resources and funds out there to help you learn! It is a life skill that is pushed aside because of demanding schedules and ease of access of indoor entertainment, such as gaming and social media. I definitely hope more preventative measures are taken in the future! I am lucky enough that Coralee (Burleson Site Coordinator) is such an active member of the Burleson Drowning Prevention Coalition and SafeKids of Tarrant County and includes me in it all. She has helped find the funding and provide Free Swim Lessons for thousands of kids. I think if we can get more lessons in the schools across the Metroplex, we can help put a dent in the amount of drownings.
Q: What is your favorite thing about being around your swimmers and the atmosphere of Sigma?
A: My favorite thing about being around my swimmers is their personalities! There is such a wide range and we always seem to find humor in even the littlest of things! Going into “Work” always puts me in a better mood because of how amazing the swimmers are! You see I used “Work” instead of just plainly stating it. This is because this is not a job for me, it is my passion! This is no matter what location I am at. I absolutely love the family like feeling each location brings!
Q: What role does Sigma play in your life?
A: HAHAHA for those of you that are close to me know that Sigma is my life! I want to see this team grow and each swimmer achieve whatever goal they may have! I will always do anything within my power to see that it happens for all of our swimmers!
Q: If you weren’t a coach, what do you think you’d be doing right now?
A: I would be a Cardiac Sonographer. If you were to tell me when I started with Sigma that I would be coaching for my career, I would have thought you were joking! But Andrew had different plans for me! I love being part of such a caring organization.
Q: Growing up, who were your biggest athletic inspiration?
A: I would have to say Josh Davis and Amanda Beard! I loved their dedication to the sport and their personalities that would shine through! Also, that they were/are amazing athletes.