Post Olympic Trials
As a coach there are some things you just know and expect. One of those things is the fact that there is going to be the inevitable mental (possibly physical) let done after an emotionally draining competition. I would guess that the Olympic Trials would top the list of the most exhausting and taxing competitions, and so I anticipated that the week following would be a battle with frustration. Balancing the need to be productive with the knowledge that Jordyn’s brain would be on the verge of short circuiting.
Monday morning, the athletes and at least one coach per club had a mandatory media session. For some reason the celebration from the night before took its toll and thus my wife handled the appearance duties. This was a session for publicity photos, fluff pieces (up close and personal) for NBC’s Olympic coverage and follow up news stories. The rest of Monday was spent getting home with home bed pillow contact commencing at about midnight. IT was a long day.
Tuesday was an off day even though we didn’t train at all on Monday. We could have scheduled a light training session but past experience dictated that rest would be a more productive use of the day. Taking 2 days off in a row is something we have tried to avoid for years as it seems that elite athletes simply forget how to do gymnastics when untrained for more than 24 hours. Jordyn really doesn’t even like extended breaks but in this case it seemed warranted. 3 days off in a row was out of the question which meant gripping up on July 4th. When other kids were enjoying family time, picnics, and beach time, Jordyn was in the gym (oh yeh me too). In the elite world there is no such thing as an untouchable holiday IF practice is needed. Training for the Olympics is certainly patriotic. Training on July 4th … not so much.
The entire week following trials was a struggle with bright spots sprinkled at moments few and far between. This is when “living to fight another day” needs to be the guiding light philosophy. When the body and the mind are tired or distracted coaches need to pay attention as this is when injuries or mental issues bloom. We backed off more than we pushed forward, we adjusted requirements on the fly to lessen the pounding and frustration, and spotted more than normal. Later in the week I expected the energy and effort level to come around but it never really did. This irritated the hell out of me but sanity prevailed and rather than accept mediocrity for an entire week, I send Jordyn home early on Saturday (ok she got kicked out of practice). The message was two fold. First that I felt that I had been very patient and lenient considering the situation and that it was time to buckle up and get back to work. Secondly that if you can’t be productive and perform at the level of expectation then you may as well go home. ‘Live to fight another day” is a hard lesson learned but well worth considering at times like these.
Sunday, Jordyn had a previously arranged commercial and media shoot with AT&T and the Today Show. I originally agreed to put this on her schedule thinking that is was only going to consume 3-4 hours on an off day. It turned out to be a 8-9 hour day which can be physically and mentally fatiguing. We opted to take Monday off to ensure that she had a full rest day. The day off seemed to pay off as the normal Jordyn returned to practice on Tuesday sharp as a tack, focused, determined and full of energy. This was a huge relief knowing that our trip to the ranch was the next day.
SO you think you want to own a club and produced elite athletes? Yeh well many coaches change their minds once they discover he hidden and not so hidden costs associated with the “hobby”. This past 10 months alone I have missed approximately 3 months of gym time. This of course requires additional staffing to make sure our other deserving athletes receive the proper coaching. If you put a price tag on this (approximately 360 hours at an estimated $15 per hour($5,400 before considering the related payroll taxes that a business has to pay). Then you add in my wife Kathryn’s coverage ($1800) as she certainly is needed at the major events not only to make sure Jordyn has the event coaching that she is used to but also as a reward for her contributions to the development process. OK now the equipment costs. The London games will be on Gym Nova equipment so it was strongly recommended that we purchase a set of uneven bars and vault board so that training would more closely mirror the actual competition. ($4600 for bars that we did not need other than for this occasion and $800 for a vault board that may never be used again). Then there are travel expenses. USAG picks up the travel and lodging for one coach but if we want Kathryn to attend this is an additional cost ($4500 for Trials/and London). I think you get the picture.
The good news is that local communities really sink their teeth into rallying behind fundraising projects intent on supporting Olympians, their coaches and families. The mid-Michigan community was incredible. Friends of the Wieber’s organized a couple different events to help support their family’s expenses related to traveling to London. Friend of Twistars did the same for our club. The club “send off” party/fundraiser was held on Tuesday evening (the night prior to departing for the ranch). It was a overwhelming success with ticket sales selling out (over 300). We also included a silent auction with donated items from local businesses. The evening was loaded with key note speakers like Senators Whitmer and Jones, MSU Athletic Director Mark Hollis, Cleveland Indians hitting coach, Bruce Fields and the Governors press secretary. Heck we even had Kevin Costner (who just happened to be staying at the hotel where the party was hosted) record a good luck send off message for Jordyn. We haven’t tabulated the final income statement but I am sure this event will alleviate most of the financial strain placed on our club.
Being that this was Jordyn’s send off party we really wanted her to enjoy the evening with her teammates and friends. Accomplishing this wasn’t easy. Of course everyone in attendance wanted a piece of her, a picture, and autograph, an interview etc. So we went with the “Do Not Disturb” rule for the party and made it clear that she would not being signing, posing or doing on camera interviews. None, except for the 35 fans that paid extra for VIP privileges ($100 got early entrance to the party, a signed Wieber Fever T-shirt, a signed high gloss Jordyn poster and a little photo time). We capped VIP tickets at 35 although I am certain we could have sold 100s. The “do not disturb rule” didn’t sit well with the attending media (at least 6 TV stations) but oh well, at least Jo could enjoy the night rather than developing writers cramp from signing hundreds of items or going horse from answering the same ole questions over and over again. This was a special night with fans and friends.
Stay tuned for the Ranch report coming soon!