Wednesday, July 30, 2008

getting ready!

Getting ready for the (official) last camping/racing trip of the 2008 season.

I'll post something sentimental afterwards, but this season has seen:

it hasn't been the easiest of seasons - balancing a new girlfriend to the incredible pressures of coaching and teaching math in a low-income, high need school has been challenging. i had to quit church involvement with the jr high group after 6 years of faithful service. Had to kick out about 6 kids from the team due to disciplinary issues including issues related to sexuality.

- got to help a team member move from his house. i was one of the first persons his mom called when he went to the hospital later that night (and was ok).
- was told by a mother, "my kids life is in your hands, and that's ok with me."

but my personal favorite thing thus far? Despite my fallacies as a coach, taking a step back and realizing that no matter what, I hope they've improved their life as much as they have improved mine. Through these kids, I've become more patient, more firm and effective, and more cognizant of my place in life - it is so EASY For me as a white middle class male to become complacent, and these kids expose my "unfairness", my lack of seriousness or my over-seriousness as it may be. The Triathlon team has been the best thing that's ever happened to me, and no matter what happens to it after this point, this has been a season of incredible triumphs amidst incredible odds. Can the kids do better? Absolutely. Can I be a better coach - both athletically and sponsorship-wise? For sure. But that's not the point!!


It really is and has been and will always be about the kids and them showing themselves THEY CAN do this sport called Triathlon.

- for those who still read, what are some things that as an outside observer you'd like to see happen next year? if you were in my shoes, what would you dream for?
(hint: I am looking into putting on at least two races as fundraisers... = no more asking for donations and car washes/yard sales etc...)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

bikes are bad!

Yesterday, I watched as a bicyclist was hit and drug by a car... we tried to help and i called 911, and the police came within a few minutes too... i keep replaying the scene in my head but at least she's ok!

then today i was out biking with some of the kids, and one of my athletes (albert) got a flat in his back tire and lost control - literally jumping off his bike as he fell to avoid hitting a light pole. he wasn't going super fast, but fast enough! it was pretty scary for all involved but he was ok aside from a few cuts and i'm sure bruises. could have been a LOT worse! we only did about 8 miles max today, but that's more than most of them bike in a month so it's cool. at least we tried, and they learned how to fix a flat tire...

(the tall hispanic kid is Justin - his first time biking! the shorter one with the red shirt is Benny, also his first time biking. Albert is the shirtless one, Eric is the kid putting the bikes up on the car... and is becoming an amazing athlete! I'm excited to see his sprint tri time next weekend!)


wednesday: flat 20 mile ride to test new tires
thursday: Hilly! 20 mile ride with friend (Justin)
friday: great 3 mile hill run and mile swim brick with the kids

saturday: easy bike ride followed by either a strong swim... or cleaning the apartment?

olympic distance tri next sunday! i will shave for it! :-(

Sunday, July 20, 2008

USAT Level 1 Clinic

Reflection from the USAT conference

You can find out all about what a USA Triathlon (USAT) coaching certification for Level I is. But to actually be there was really one of my favorite non-kid-related parts of what I’ve started to call the Triathlon experience of the past year and a half.

Some people there (43) were professional coaches, but most weren’t yet. That was encouraging to me. Many of us expressed an interest of turning this triathlon training stuff from more than just the hobby it is now into something that is really making some side (or full-time) money. Obviously my goals are a little bit different, but that’s for a different time.

Each day was 2-3 topics ranging from pretty technical but useful nutrition, mental focus for athletes, the business side of things, the protection our USAT Coaching Level 1 Certification provides us, Running by Bobby McGee, Tactical parts of cycling, swimming and the sport as a whole. Todd Waldner from Fresno was also there and we found at least one other youth-oriented coach but heard rumors of several others throughout the country. So that was encouraging and disappointing at the same time.

Basic Synopsis:

Nutrition: Eat to Train, don’t train to eat (so I can’t justify drinking mountain dews any more by saying, “oh well I ran 6 miles this morning…”)

Sports Physiology: I have a lot to learn about how the body works

Psychology: Good here, but I should be able to talk to my kids about it without smirking.

Swimming: rotation, learn to ADAPT to different conditions.

Biking: I want to better learn how to “fit,” someone and get my kids fitted for the bikes we have.

Running: Lean forward about 5%, pretend that you’re pulling strings down from your face. Bobby McGee is a god among men.

Coaching: Time=Money. Most people coach because they love triathlons, but this conference wasn’t free after all… (hint: I’m still very committed to keeping my club the only one in the country that I know of taking low-income youth and teaching them triathlons)

Training: Periodization baby… (I don’t really do this for my own athletes… need to do a better job about that.)

Two ideas for next year immediately:

1) Divide things up into “sessions” as Todd does… make them pay like $10 up front but then give it all back if they come to all the practices and stuff. This will take more donors and fundraisers, but hopefully ensure more commitment.

2) Less races, more training. I love how we were able to do a ton of races this year, but it was a lot of money and time that perhaps didn’t need to have happened if we really want to focus as a triathlon club.

3) I need someone willing to help organize camping trips, HELP apply for grants, keep the records of the kids times, etc… which could all be done on the web hint hint? Email me if you’re interested.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

USAT conference

Tomorrow I head to New Mexico for a USA Triathlon Coaching Clinic. It will be three days of classes, demonstrations, lectures, etc. so that I can take a test at the end to be a certified Coach. Crazy. I'm very excited and have been preparing pretty extensively...

In other news, the triathlon last weekend was amazing! I wish I had time to express how great the kids did, not just performance-wise (2nd and 3rd in the relay division both days!) but maturity-wise (with a few exceptions of course...) and looking at the big picture.

Water polo this week continues to go well, with more kids coming to all three programs going on - jr high polo, Masters, and regular high school polo. Two kids from summer school have come every day this week and are getting to become better and better swimmers.

Summer school will be over this time next week. That's a relief. I've loved it but am really regretting having the USAT conference making me miss this Friday... it's so close to the end and I only get Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week to do stuff. Tomorrow I'll end confusion on similiarity in geometry as well as volume and maybe surface area?! Either way they won't be ready for a test on Friday so i'll make it a double-point quiz then they can watch Numb3rs when the sub is there. (the sub who is having problems getting himself authorized to sub - he guaranteed me he was in the system even though he didn't show up when i checked on monday... it's thursday pal!).

We will do one more triathlon weekend after all because we have so many USA Triathlon volunteer vouchers and stuff left over. So that's cool if we cna figure out how to pay for the transportation costs and such. I am in negative numbers personally thanks to some unexpected expenses recently (the USAT conference being about $1,000 of it and that will be paid for when I get my summer school check...) and last weekend ended up costing too much although $200 cheaper than expected which is a good thing! August 2nd and 3rd.

I am definitely going to get some armadillo's or something... went out on a ride today with a friend and hit a pothole while passing on a down hill... both tires went flat instantly and i'm surprised i didn't crash hardcore. he had to ride back and bring his truck because of our two spare tires the first one had a tear in it and thus the second wouldn't have done any good either.

but these are the original tires and i figure i've done several hundred miles on them, so... pay more for better tires this time around!

Friday, July 4, 2008


I've read books on mentoring (To Own a Dragon, Mentoring: a Framework, Raising Cain, to name a few...) and considered myself a mentor to a number of kids ranging in age from 11 (and now 18!) to 21.

It's pretty much never not "messy." Asking a kid to open up with trust takes a lot of time the longer i teach/coach the more i sometimes almost want to say, "wait, please don't tell me everything," - yet they sometimes do knowing full well I'll have to "report" what they say to others...

So this one kid on my triathlon/water polo teams I met around October of last year - just as one of the messiest periods of my personal life was ending. Partly because of that, I made a conscious choice to just be seen as, "coach," to this guy.

After a few weeks, one time his mom asked me to take him home after water polo practice and because the mom had been really good about taking him home normally/picking him up, I said sure. he mentioned how hungry he was and that his mom wasn't gonna be home (working), so we stopped at mcdonalds and talked. i don't remember what we ate, i don't remember most of what we talked about, but that was when i stopped being coach and started being mentor.

I began to ask about his grades. About his goals in sports and life. And he began to realize that someone cared about him enough to make him not play water polo if he ditched school, got suspended, or got caught lying to me. But I always made sure to provide a, "next time," to see him and let him back in the activities to be clear I wasn't giving up on him.

Yesterday I spent about 7 hours with the kid through a variety of activities ranging from riding bikes at the group home, swimming, eating taco bell, water polo, and taking him home again. While helping me out at the group home, I noticed how proud he was to say, "I've known Coach Dorman for almost a year now," and stuff like that. The group home kids were in awe of his athletic ability - which I can take some credit for :-). His attitude was great and he worked out hard in both biking and water polo.

At the end of the time, he made a comment that really made me pause - "i don't have many people to just... talk to." and went on to explain how his dad didn't speak much english, his mom kinda expected him to be a good big brother/chores, etc. and his uncles were drunk all the time. I try not to bring it up (bad experiences with some kids in the past), but he talks to me about his parents fighting and stuff sometimes too. I rarely prod (but sometimes it's needed!).

A great reminder as we celebrate America's Independence that the best moments are usually the ones we don't plan for. Ironic given this. No matter what happens to this kid in life, I hope he'll always feel he can just "talk" to me or someone about what's going on in his life, and even with his future kids.

p.s. If you know me, my new title picture makes perfect sense... that's me running on the beach after the California Ironman 70.3 March 29th. The ocean seemed to cold by that time though even though I'd swam 1.2 miles in it at 6:30 that morning... hope no one's offended :-) doing an olympic-distance aquathlon this sunday which should be cool even though i'm not ready for the run really.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Triathlon Practice (swim, bike, run this week): Check

First ever Junior High Water Polo Practice for McLane: Check

First ever Masters Practice for McLane: Check

Sports is going well! Tomorrow will take some bikes and a kid helper out to Valley Teen Ranch, where I worked full time in 2005 and part time until I became a full time teacher in February of 2006. I still help out occasionally because I love the group home environment. i'm pretty excited about it... that and we get Friday off!