That Coaching Feeling 2: Boorowa, Apples and Ashes

My granddaughter, Ivy, much to her surprise and delight, qualified for a regional swim carnival at Boorowa. She and I had a second opportunity to travel to an event together. This time it was a four-hour round trip to Boorowa, NSW.

The Boorowa Pool is an excellent facility. It was cold but Ivy had an advantage … she swims in the ocean in Tasmania in January. As she points out, nothing could be as cold as that (I did not mention the North Sea in July).

Ivy and I really enjoyed the welcome to the event. Brendan Maynard, the Principal of St Joseph’s College Boorowa, provided a very gentle start to the day and expressed his community’s delight at hosting the event.

Ivy did not have to wait long for her event on the program (Event 8, Heat 1), the 50 metre freestyle. We had done some practice a few days before to get used to a 50 metre pool. Ivy helped some other competitors in marshalling this time and also helped at the starting blocks.

Ivy swam four seconds faster at Boorowa than she had at the Yass pool. She stopped to catch her breath twice but finished the length very strongly. She really enjoyed the experience.

Shortly after we set off for home, a journey of 180 kms. Ivy dozed for part of the journey but we did speak about her swim and the joy it gave her and me.

On the journey home, I thought again about that coaching feeling. This time my thinking included the Bramley Apple Tree and a Chinese artist Zhang Huan.

The Bramley Apple Tree

Mary Anne Brailsford planted some apple pips in 1809. One of the pips took root and became the first Bramley apple tree. In 1856, a nurseryman was given permission to take cuttings from the tree. Since that time, all Bramley apples grown have come from a pip planted in 1809.

I wondered about the parallel with coaching and the seeds each of us sow as coaches. I thought too about the principles that guide coaches and how these become to root stock for subsequent experience and perhaps even a career in coaching.

Zhang Huan

Zhang Huan uses incense ash for some of his art work. This ash is produced from the burning incense in Buddhist temples in Shanghai. It is brought to his studio to be sorted by color gradation for his paintings and sculptures. Nina Miall (2007) has written in detail about Zhang Huan’s work.

She notes “these ash remains speak to the fulfillment of millions of hopes, dreams and blessings’.

Zhang Huan speaks about ash paintings and memory doors in this 2012 video. In the video he observes “Everything we are, everything we believe and want are within these ashes”.

This encouraged me to think about the hopes (ours and those whom we coach) we invest in the act of coaching and the memory doors we provide.

Towards the end of our trip home, Ivy asked me what sport I would do now if I had a choice. I said swimming. Ivy thought that might be her choice too.

Photo Credits

Lane 2 (Keith Lyons, CC BY 2.0)

The Bramley Apple Tree (Experience Nottinghamshire Now )

Zhang Huan (Frame grab)

That coaching feeling

My granddaughter, Ivy, and I went to our first out-of-town swimming carnival together. The event, for junior schools in and around Goulburn, was held at the Yass Memorial Swimming Pool (also know as the Yass Olympic Swimming Pool).

Ivy’s home pool is 18 metres, Yass is 50.

We had the best part of two hours in the car across country to chat, talk about excitement and nerves.

Ivy has had the good fortune of having swimming lessons with Sharon Blinco at Braidwood. This has given her a great technical introduction to swimming.

We arrived early enough for Ivy to have a ‘warm up’ swim. It was a cold start but Ivy had an opportunity to come to terms with a finishing wall that was 32 metres further than her home pool.

Ivy was swimming in the 50 metres freestyle early in the event. I mentioned to her what ‘marshalling’ was and asked her to look at the start of a couple of races to make sure she was aware of being called to the start and the signal to start.

Whilst Ivy was off with her school friends, I watched some of the early relay races. I saw three swimmers who got me thinking how I might work with them. They stood out amongst their peers.

The coaching feeling I had was about how I might structure their learning environments and how Ivy would flourish in their company through observational learning and conversation.

For a while I was off exploring that coaching feeling. Then it was Ivy’s race.

She swam beautifully, a very long way. She was exhausted after the 50 metres but was radiant with the glow of achievement.

That set me off again about how as a coach I might induct young people into the joy of play and their journey into competition if they wished.

We stopped for pancakes on the way home. Great recovery food … but that was a conversation for another time.

Supporting playfulness

I was fortunate to spend three days in Penguin, Tasmania over Christmas.

At the west of the town is Johnson’s Beach. I was particularly interested in the layout of the beach area in the context of ongoing discussions in my home town, Braidwood, about how to create play spaces within the town’s heritage area.

There is a skate park at Johnson’s Beach.

I liked the clarity of the code of conduct there:

and the guidelines:

The signs and the space were very well kept and exemplified the ‘RESPECT’ invitation of the signage.

Around the corner from the skate park are some exercise machines (Fit for Parks). They have a beautiful outlook to the west.

The machines are well maintained, have very clear instructions for use and include a QR code for each station that links to a video for further information.

When you have finished the work out or the skate and scooter manoeuvres, there is a place to relax and enjoy the view.

I thought the facilities at Johnson’s Beach were exemplary. Their co-location made it possible to have an inter-generational space. We were there during the school term and saw a small number of young people use the skate park (on scooters). We did see people using the exercise stations and I saw two people use their smart phones to check out the exercises.

The area was very clean and I had a sense that there was a shared responsibility for its upkeep and appearance.

I do think that examples like this can support the conversations we are having in Braidwood about creating play spaces for young people whilst acknowledging the concerns some people have about the town’s heritage.

Photo Credits

Keith Lyons (CC BY 4.0)