Let's get into summer before I incriminate myself any further...
I just met the male version of Olive Oil. A completely displaced person. Kid's looking for a schedule for 'lap swim.' I'm the lifeguard, Curie Park on the south side of Chicago. City job. 'Lap swim,' back then, appeared on paper, so the lifeguards had an opportunity to turn Jr. Lifeguards into slaves. I didn't have the heart to crush this kid's enthusiasm.
"Let's go find another pool where the schedule allows training for about an hour or so." He went with it. I walked into Ridge Park, unannounced, unknowing, and definitely unwanted with this kid. Now we both appeared displaced. Trying to describe my intentions clearly just came out sideways. The more I talked, the deeper I dug. The next day I was reassigned to Coach the Water Rats as we were later known. Complete misunderstanding. Got the hour pool time plus two more, the original kid, plus 13 other Water Rats. They couldn't give it away fast enough. To make it more complicated, the age range was across the board. Two years later, those 13 Rats multiplied into the largest swim team in Chicago with 213 swimmers ages 4-19yrs.
Coaching developed into all areas of my life. Took root. When I went astray, I always found myself a way back. The deck of the pool became and remains to this day sacred ground.
This discernment process is becoming multitiered, with coaching becoming a priority.
Mundelein, "The Big House," was the next move. Voted 'IN' to continue the discernment process by my professors. 'Skelator' was outvoted. I walked into my first class, the last student to arrive, with all my belongings still in my 12-year-old Datson. My extended personalized discernment process required me to squeeze the juice out of summer. "Gym and pool? Let's get it going," was my attitude. The basement of this sacred compound became the new powerlifting gym. Swimming was another matter requiring some felonious creativity. Pool hours sucked, interfering with my personal powerlifting/discernment process schedule, so a few extra keys came into existence. Statute of limitations ran out, so I can admit this stuff now. Still, have the key.
First vows were coming. Time for a reality check. I figured hypocrisy only goes so far. Thinking of making a move and ending this 'discernment' process. Tossed out some feelers with no responses. Last one to leave Mundelein that year. I just needed those extra innings to let it go, I guess. Jam-packed the car with all my crap, no idea which direction, none. Did the last once over making sure my room was squared away and said a little quiet good-bye. Feeling like a feather in the wind-vulnerable. The phone ringing off the hook is ruining my little reflective moment. Frustratingly, I answered. "Nial," yes. "Want a job?".
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