Sunday, June 22, 2008

Clinic by Bushido Experts in Ontario

Here are Breda and Shae in front of an important landmark in Kingston Ontario. They were visiting clinicians on Saturday June 21st as we ran an intro clinic to help kick-start club water polo in the area. There were over 30 people present, half kids 14 and under and half adults. The adults will start a weekly rec league at Queens in the fall after a few more summer sessions. The younger players will have a basic club program if we can find some weekly pool time for them in the fall.

The girls were here at my request to give a media boost to this effort. I am in the area for most of the summer and will live around here eventually so it makes sense for me to lend support. Hopefully in a few days I will have some of the photos from the clinic and will post them here after my next chance to get to a wireless connection.

For those of you who have been waiting for the land strength program for the summer it is now ready. You can find it by following the link to Mike Reid's website that is listed on the left of this page.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Page Turned

Tonight was the genuine conclusion to the 2007-08 season as we held our awards party. It was a low key affair, only about 60 people, but enough of a cross section to be interesting. This was also the last Bushido party on Dorchester as we are moving in July, there will still be lots of room for parties though.

Sorry this picture is not great but here are the 3 award winners from 2008, Breda, Callum and Hanika. Callum was Most Improved, going from uncertain field player to authentic goalie with recognizable skills - that is no easy task. Hanika had the honor of being recognized as Most Promising and that reflects how coaches noticed her personality and work ethic ahead of any game skills (even though those are solid). Breda isn't a huge surprise as Athlete of the Year because she is so talented and works so hard at practice. But above all else, she is a decent person that helps everyone and all coaches enjoy coaching, even when we have to bash heads with each other now and then. Congratulations to all of you.

Breda and Shae will soon leave for Montreal as part of a summer National Team centralization; this will prepare them for the July Pan Am Junior Championships. This will be a stressful training environment after a crazy season and it will be nice for them to get a break in August after a long 11 months.

Friday, June 6, 2008

We're Hosting 2009 Youth Nationals!

We learned today that Bushido has been selected to do something never done before, host 2 huge Youth National Championships at the same time, in the same facility. That will be on the May long weekend at Pan Am Pool and it should give our club and our High Performance programs a great boost in terms of fall excitement and spring media attention.

This event will anchor a very exciting 2008-09 season where we will play 20 games on the prairies with Team Sask and Calgary Water Polo at the Youth and Cadet ages. That will help close the gaps with other provinces in terms of seasonal games; now all we need is to get players training more frequently and with more purpose. Both are realistic expectations!

This also gives my summer planning some specific focus and puts team targets, budget realities and timelines all where I can manage them at one time. What an exciting thing to work with.

Season Almost Over

Great Goalie, Doesn't Know It

The season is soon ending, one more practice and I can let out a sigh. Already looking forward to the fall of 2008 when we get to start over. So much potential was untapped this year I hope kids have seen what is missing and hear me when I ask for a renewed effort in September.

Tonight I met with Trevor 1 last time for the season to try and find common ground for the future. He and I agree on pretty much all points for the future of the MWPA. The provincial board seems to agree with us too. What is missing is support or endorsement from a unified Neptunes club that wants to turn High Performance over to the MWPA, even though the MWPA can't fund it or manage it and has no mandate to do so.

Maybe time will change that perspective and be helped by the realization that attending nationals from Manitoba in 2009 will only be possible with a Bushido Team. I didn't want that to be a threatening reality ie that we would "steal" Neptune players, but people are pushing it that way. I was more interested in evolution, sending players form each club across membership boundaries based on their training goals, but that image is not being embraced. Maybe it isn't being understood but since I haven't been able to talk to people from Neptunes about it I can't say for sure.

Nevertheless, I am ready for a break, time to recharge some energy levels and come back ready to get it done. I'm pretty sure that if I can build a cabin, then a house, with my hands, with materials that I harvest from the land, then I can deal with some small obstacles in my way while trying to keep building water polo in Manitoba.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Year End Awards Party

The date has been set for the year end awards party and it is Monday June 9, 2008. This is the time we recognize 3 individuals, kind of against the grain of the usual "team" development we focus on. Naming an Athlete of the Year is pretty safe as there is always someone who everyone can agree worked very hard, played a high level and was a role model, it's a pretty positive award.

Giving our the Most Improved is soooo hard because so many people improve at so many levels. But, I try to mention a few big improvements before I actually name the final winner. The 3rd award is Most Promising Newcomer and that can be a hard label to place on a young athlete. We have had a few of those who take a big turn after a few years and don't even keep playing the game, whoops. But it is important to let some young players know that we coaches watch the beginners and talk about who we would like to have at our practices in years ahead. That is the focus, attitude, not just amazing skills in a new player.

Practices winding down

One of the things that becomes apparent each spring is which athletes are really thinking of long term development as water polo players. Everybody needs a break now and then, for sure, and these are built into the season. Normally I would take practice right into high school exams so players have an outlet during that stressful period. However, even with fun practice that focuses on passing, shooting and games there is a reluctance for many to actually get in the water. That is where we are now so we have our last practice week of 2007-08.

Here is a picture taken at 5:45 tonight, 15 minutes after practice started. These boys were all on deck well in advance of 5:30 but they have no motivation to work so I am getting the message that they need a break and don't want to be there training. Ben was on deck well before little brother Sam, but Sam has already swum a few hundred meters when this shot is taken.

Sorry there is netting between me and the pool but that is the safety barrier that the city has finally agreed to allow during our practice. As the boys get stronger the net becomes more and more crucial every month. I usually place myself on the other side, by the pool, but was sitting by my backpack for this photo. It looks pretty quiet in that picture but we had 18 players there tonight, quite a few for this time of the season.

Heather was there with one of her Volturno pro suits on and that had some stares from the other players. I'm not sure if she wore that while I was away at any nationals, and if anyone has seen it, but there was some prestige having it there. Serena always has her Hawaii suit too so the girls get to see some different sites this spring than they did all winter.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Thinking of Pools

Final Saturday "fun" scrimmage

Wouldn't it be nice if Pan Am looked this quiet every practice? You'd think with 6 pools of 50m or more in Winnipeg it would be possible to coordinate enough time for all sport clubs to have adequate practice space while still allowing the public lots of access. What would it take for such a thing to happen? Much less than what it takes to prevent it from happening! I'm pretty sure I could come up with a schedule that accommodated every group, every interest and every request for pool space if I was let loose on that topic by the Parks and Rec department.

I mention that today simply because I have been having discussions with some people in Southern Ontario who are trying to get a new 50m pool built in Kingston. That is possibly the largest Canadian centre without a public pool to serve its population. The fact that I will live near there one day makes it of interest to me to be involved in this discussion so I have been thinking of pools and access quite a bit lately. Maybe I will talk more about that in later posts as I am helping deliver a clinic in Kingston this summer.

Meanwhile, back with local planning, I am meeting 1 more time with Trevor this week. He is the head coach of the Neptunes and if his club will actually allow him to speak on their behalf we will have a unified sport community in the fall. I haven't given up that vision and am being as positive as possible as we work toward that. Hopefully before I break for the summer we will have some specific details, exciting ones, about how water polo will work in Winnipeg next season.