A few months back my wife Kathryn and I were invited to present at a coaches seminar in Sydney Australia. At the time we wondered how in the world we could squeeze a 10 day trip into our already hectic schedules, especially with the competitive season looking us square in the eye. Squeeze we did and in hind sight we could not be happier.
New South Wales was hosting the event and they covered every detail with class and precision. We have presented at many seminars and congresses but have to say that the Australians really know how to make you feel at home. From the onset it was very apparent that the coaches in attendance were passionate and hungry for knowledge. It was so refreshing seeing wide eyed coaches soaking up every bit of information they could.
During the 4 day seminar we presented sessions ranging from beginner to advanced, covered the events, dance, conditioning, complexes and every possible coaching topic related to organizing and implementing a gymnastics program. Coaches were very receptive to new ideas yet contributed to the topics also. We also had the opportunity to work with some of their national stream athletes in a facility that most would consider “dream land” (part of a new 32 million dollar sports complex). The athletes were as receptive as their coaches and we enjoyed the limited time we had with them.
After completing the seminar in New South Wales, I was invited to spend a day with the Australian National Team at the AIS (Australian Institute of Sports) in the nations capital Canberra. It was a 3 hour drive from Sydney but provided great scenery and the chance to see wild Kangaroos by the 100s along the way. Their national team camp format closely mirrors that of the USAs and it was a privilege to get to work with their top coaches and athletes for a day.
Our final 2 days were spent relaxing in Sydney. With temperatures in the mid to upper 80s and the views and attractions that Sydney can provide, the days were well spent. Our hotel overlooked the harbor, the Opera House, the North Sydney skyline and the famous Harbor Bridge (compliments of our hosts). I now know why many consider Sydney as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Having chiseled the ice off my truck upon return I had thoughts that perhaps Christmas in the 80s is not such a bad way to go, but we are home now so LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW.
If passion and effort are any indication of the future of gymnastics in Australia, all is pointed in the right direction. Being good is not their goal, being great sounds much better. Kathryn and I wish them the best in climbing that ladder of success and hope we played a small role in helping them up a rung or two.