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Abderrahmane(Damone) Tissira Constant Improvement, Empathy & Creating an Inclusive Culture of Success

Abderrahmane(Damone) Tissira Constant Improvement, Empathy & Creating an Inclusive Culture of Success

All right, so we're recording and let's get the intro video going. And here we go. Good morning folks. And welcome to the on-deck show, a show that takes a look at people and organizations operating outside the scope of normal to make things better for folks like you and I, this morning, we have the pleasure of speaking with Abderrahmane Tissira, or as I've known him for the last 20 years - Damone..


Damone is the staunch professional, always looking for ways to improve himself and improve his craft. And in turn, bring more value back to the people that he works with. And coaches Damon is currently the head coach of the Regina dolphins and the university of Regina Cougars. We're fortunate to be able to talk to him today and we look forward to this conversation.


Welcome Damone.


The text that follows is an unedited excerpt from our hour long conversation.  The full video interview can be found on our YouTube channel and by the link here. The full audio can be found by vis the Spotify link below

Salut Damone!


 And that's where my French kind of ends right now because out of practice. So how are you doing this one? Really good. Thank you. And you, how are you? Thank you for accepting the invite and, and whatnot. And, uh, um, hopefully, I mean, as with everybody else, we've had a year of unprecedented disruption.


So I want to talk a little bit about that later on, but, uh, maybe just share a little bit about, uh, you know, current thoughts and feelings on, you know, like this disruption, we're all kind of dealing with it. Yeah, it was, you know, as everyone, uh, you know, the last year we thought it's only, uh, you know, two weeks locked down and everything will be back normal.


And we never had that experience. And one, everything was like postpone console and things, and, you know, we're like, oh, Okay. What, how we can deal with that. And, uh, you know, uh, talking to other coaches and listening to some podcasts, like, you know, we learn a lot and we just, um, you know, figure out that it's, um, it's an opportunity for us to have an extra year to prepare for when I pick trials or, uh, or H group programming or, uh, uh, build the program or just, you know, having like that extra.


Time to, to, uh, build or rethink or review what we are doing and was I think, uh, you know, a good process, but I, I will say that take, take us. Around like three weeks to, um, to accept the reality. But I think once we accepted, uh, with the coaches, they did really a amazing job, keeping parents engaged. And you know, now we can see that we can, you know, we are looking for the end of the tunnel.


Yeah, fair enough. And, um, it's certainly great way in great process, um, to kind of initiate, to get that that going. And the time really has been a silver lining. Like once you kind of get through the shock and, you know, kind of, you know, the waves of frustration, cause it kind of keeps coming back every time there's a new version of lockdown, but you know, uh, great advice and great decorating insights.


So I want to start, um, just, uh, by developing the story of, uh, You know, where, how you, how you got, how you got into coaching, how coaching brought you to Canada and how coaching and Canada brought you to Regina. Cause there's, I mean, there's a long process. There there's a lot of development and the overarching theme that I really want to hit on and develop here is that, um, like if you go through your track record and if you go through sort of the activities you've taken on over the last, you know, 20, 30 years, you've never missed an opportunity to improve.


Whether that's through, uh, institutional education or through, um, you know, uh, internships or apprenticeships and stuff like that. So I want to go through all that and see how that has all led you here. And maybe, you know, uh, go into a little bit of what the future holds. So background. So tell us where you're from, how you got into coaching, how you came to.


Yeah. So I used to swim before, not really a higher level, but I used to swim, like, let's say a national level and. And, uh, let's say like 90, 95 and 95, 96. I was like looking for something I, you know, uh, to do in my future, you know, uh, it's, it's little bit different than now that the people, they even go in university and they have no idea what you were doing as a job in the future.


But I was like feeling that I really want to help people to achieve what they want to. Uh, I felt that in my time I had great support with my coaches and teammates, but I felt that if I am inside, I feel what the athlete needs. I feel what. Uh, support mean and performance. I, if I become a coach, I will maybe have that better understanding of the athlete and more I can, uh, understand athletes more.


I can help them to achieve their best. So. In 96. I started my education in Algeria about, uh, sports, uh, science and, uh, specific to swimming. So we did the three years university study about that. And I start with learn to swim. So, uh, the education, if they give you, uh, in practical side, they give you a group, uh, like zero, they are scared about water and you have to figure out and to build your confidence, to teach them or to put them in, you know, comfort and how they can learn to swim.


So I already start with zero level zero. I coach I coach learn to swim program. And, uh, two years. And after that, the head coach left in, in the team in Algeria. So my teammates, they asked me to take over and they are like same age or older. So I take over and I took over the, the program and there was really a, you know, uh, happy.


I build that, uh, you know, um, relationship with athletes in the pool. I will be the coach and outside the pool. I still friends and worked really well. And in 2008, when I went to a friends in Paris and they start working in, uh, in a club, in a scoop in, in Paris. So I worked for two years. And it's funny because we went to the nationals in 2002 and they gave away a videotape about kinesiology.


So, and I was the consolidate about swimming movement and everything. And I was like, wow, I really want to do that. So I Googled, uh, Kenny zoology and I found like university of Montreal and, you know, a program in scholarship program. So I applied and I saw the. Teachers was, uh and, uh, and nuclear is the guy, uh, created the beep test.


You know, there'd be like the VO to, uh, measure. So I was okay. I have to go there. So I applied and I went to university of Montreal and the first two weeks. So circle K. It's not what I'm looking. So I want talk with John. Mark Lavoie is a physiologist. He used to be a swim coach and really a good coach.


And he said, no, it's not what the kinesiology meaning. You're up here. It's completely different. I said, okay, I'm in the wrong spot. And they said, okay, I will come back to France, but let's try coaching here and see if I like it. So I applied to longer and Martin gen GRA, uh, higher B and they start with, he gave me a really, you know, a group that they don't want to swim.


They th it's not, they don't want, they want, but they are not. Swimming for something. So I really, uh, worked with that group. And after one year, like they, they were all approving and they had like, you know, club nationals at that time. And I really like it because I, my philosophy is how I can help the athletes to get better.


And do you know, to improve. So after that, I started coaching with Martin and, uh, I did one year with, uh, Alessandro in 23rd, 2003, 2004, 2005. And after that, they went as my first head coach position in center stash. When I spent three years there, I learned from, you know, it's my first experience. I learned a lot.


They're great people, great board support. They helped me to grow. They helped me to learn, and it was really fortunate to have those people. And in 2008, a long game called again. And I accept the position as head coach. I went for six years and after that, I. The opportunity to hear in a vagina. Uh, I was looking for a club plus university, or do you want to see how, you know, a university is?


And if I can bring something to university level, because I already believe that sport it's not on at seven. I really believe that, uh, you know, you know, the varsity program is the best part of your career and maybe it would extend. And after you graduate maybe for two or three years, depending where you are in your level, if you will, if you are in Olympic level or at a national level, or even, you know, doing something great after that.


So, and my English was really bad and I, I said, okay, let's go and learn. Uh, you know, and they came here and you know, now he's seven years. Yeah, absolutely. And you touched on some really interesting points there that I wanted to go back and kind of expand on it a little bit. So the coaching development process in Algeria, it's quite different from what we have here in Canada and quite different, what exists in the U S like it's integrated into the school system and, and sports specific.


So, um, I'd like to know a little bit more about that. Can you expand on that? Like what, um, what advantages do you see in the system? Yeah, I think it's, uh, Eastern Europe, uh, kind of vision program and, uh, talking to the people that program exists here in Canada, maybe in the city. So, uh, was, you know, a program the first year you study old sports physiology, psychology, uh, bio mechanic, like everything, like all sports.


And after that, you, at the second year, you choose your, uh, your sport and. And the G teaching was how, uh, the impact of swimming exercise on the physiology, swimming exercise on psychology, bell biomechanic and swimming. And it's really, I thought, I think I had really, really great, um, You know, uh, education in Algeria with, uh, you know, uh, really specific to, to the sport.


And after that, I think, uh, everything, you know, was really, uh, clear for me and it, this is what I want to do. I really like it. And, uh, paradise. That's fantastic. Um, so given that set and then building on that question. So, um, your take on theoretical versus practical experience, cause what you just talked about, um, you had like, your, your journey started with was very heavy on the theoretical side in terms of, you know, the conventional or institutional education, but when you came to Canada yeah.


The opportunity and you dove into the exercise of coaching, the experience of coaching and just learned from experience. So, um, I mean, what are your thoughts on, uh, you know, theoretical versus practical experience when it comes to learning? Yeah, I think it's, uh, you know, depend people, uh, uh, depend the coaches, how they like it, how they learn in my situation.


I really like to see the theoretical parts of, uh, of the reality. And after that go and see, you know, the real life, how that work in the field. And for me, it's completely different. And, um, you know, like I, I will say. Mid when I took over longer. And, uh, after maybe three years, I felt that. I did a mistake in my coaches progression that I didn't spend enough time with, uh, you know, uh, coaches as assistant coach with, uh, you know, I was, um, I was like thinking, oh, I should do like, you know, uh, go apply for a job to work with a good coach for three, four years for I'm pick cycle.


See how they work as an assistant. I was doing that with, uh, Paul Berg. And in that time he was in a. In Montreal and, uh, Try to learn from different coaches, you know, uh, around, but it's not as you learn from someone every single day and you can watch him to do things and, you know, and learn, you know, different, you know, scenario because, um, you know, every day when you have 10 workouts a week, Can many things can happen.


And, uh, you know, I started going to the conference. I thought the conference was a great way to learn about when I started doing a visit for week. I said, okay, I was doing completely wrong going to the conference because when you visit someone, um, you know, week you will learn a lot. You will learn a real, uh, you know, the practical side of the, of the job.


And I remember when I asked you, when you went to Australia, I ask you, uh, you know, what's the experience. And, you know, it gave me a lot of, you know, thoughts, but the experience was to be. It's not what they are doing. It's just to be there at, you know, uh, 4:30 AM or 5:00 AM or when we think it's too early, but you go the other side.


It's not that tough that we think. And. I try to do some more education, some more workshop, you know, uh, I did my certification in UVC about, uh, uh, you know, high-performance and technical leadership, try to compensate that lack of, you know, I didn't spend time, but again, I think, uh, you know, the coaches. Uh, should spend more time as an assistant, you know, maybe three Olympic cycle or foreign Olympic cycle to be ready if they want to oddly to adult level, because I really want to help AKI to achieve their best.


I want to help oddly to achieve the highest, you know, step into podium in Pixar, internationals. Yeah, brilliant. And, you know, very well thought out answer. Um, so leading into, I guess, you know, I've got two questions I want to kind of dive into on philosophy and pursuit of excellence and there, in some ways they, they kind of inter intermingle, like they're, they're almost the same.


So, um, I want to talk to you about what your philosophy is now and how that has developed over the years. How has that changed over the years in terms of what you bring. Yeah. My philosophy as a coach is, um, just helping athletes to get better. So, uh, just teach them, try to teach, you know, uh, I start telling people what they have to do in my early coaching career.


And they felt like this is what they have to tell them, but now it's okay. How I can teach them to do that, how I can, uh, convince them to do the work, how I can sell that. This is the way. What they need to do to achieve their best. And I always try to start from their goals from their, um, uh, thought or, uh, dreams, uh, before it was more mine.


When I started coaching, uh, if you do this, you will make this team. Or if you do that, you will make this time. But they, I didn't know if they want or not. So now I'm more, I w I am more how I can educate oddly to see better, to see better their future, because some people, they don't think they are good, but if they work, they will, they can expand.

And they have talent. I believe that everyone has different talents, but you can work in that and, you know, help them to achieve their best. And how we can, you know, about excellence for me, it's every day job. It's not, uh, excellence is not winning. The medal excellence is to be the best version of yourself.


Every single day included me. You know, when I woke up the morning, how I can feel it's my first day. You know, coaching with this group and I have to make them feel, wow, it's a good coach. Or, uh, I am giving a time. I, how they can feel that I care and you know, to me to feel bad, they care too. You know, the athlete, the generation that they are different.


I started coaching in 2000 and now it's, you know, to the decade, but. I feel it's different. It's, it's way, way different than, uh, you know, uh, 2000, but the progression, I think we, we, we follow and, uh, the volume it's really important for me. I will never, uh, you know, trade the value for performance. Uh, it's really important because the end of the day, they will stop swimming.


But they, I want them to be a better person in the future. And as I go, my, my athletes, they coach me more. They teach me more one what they, uh, they teach me more than what I teach them. Because if I have knotted for six years, they will give me something that I can apply for my next 20 years. You know, if you have a cycle of group of four years or five years now is like five years.


Majority is for four years, but it's something that I try to learn every single day, every single group, every single generation and how we can adapt w like the, the current situation with keep pushing forward and keep improving. And I said, like my, like, I really, I give an example to my athlete, the best place to work the gym, because the people come to the gym, they come to.


Improve. They come to get better life fitness. They come for a purpose. And I said, for me, it's the same. I want to guys, when you work on the deck, you have a purpose to get at least 1% better. Only one per cent better. I want, I'm not asking you to get, you know, 10% or be a champion tomorrow, 1% better of how you treat your teammates, how you, one person better to how you talk to your coaches.


1% better to body language when you know everything that creates. The best place to train. And I believe like even in Regina or in different place in Canada, that people they think is middle of nowhere, but for me, it's the best place to work because those things they are around the pool. And you feel that on, on the deck I have to visit from, um, uh, with swimming Canada, uh, with the CST CA uh, uh, monitor.


And one day Condors are like, wow, we don't have that. How you have that. And we don't have that. It's like, it's not about you Dante or over you have where you're not, you have to create that. And I am really fortunate that I always had great athletes and great, uh, coaching staff that helped me to keep that, uh, pushing the, you know, forward and creating an environment for the athlete to get better and reach their full potential.


Yeah. Brilliant. Um, so going back into what you just said. So you, what you talked about was a very holistic approach to what you do on coaching in terms of, it's not performance centric, it's value centric in terms of, you know, what you want your summers to get out of it. And you kind of mentioned that at the beginning of your coaching career, it was a little bit more performance centric.


We want, like, you know, it was almost, you know, that the conversation of extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation, you know, you're doing this for me versus you're doing this for us versus you're doing this for you and so on and so forth. Take me through that progression. How did you move from, you know, this is about performance to, this is about, you know, this is about something that I will not compromise value.


Yeah, I think it's, you know, it's a human being. I, I still have athletes. They do one class physiology at university and they, they are experts after, after one class, you know, and they talk to me as they know exactly. And they said, I started laughing because I said I had the same thing. I thought I knew everything my first year and now I have to figure out yeah.


Everything. I don't know anything. So, and I think it's, um, it's, uh, it's just the start that, you know, we. We want to, uh, have an impact, uh, quick impact on what we are doing when we start coaching. And I didn't have any mentor that told me, okay, Damon, what you, what you really want to be as a coach. If I said, I want to help people to be in an Encon, he will say, okay, there is three steps.


Learn and learn. So this is all three steps will, you know, help you to become that, uh, guide that will have the athlete to reach their full potential. And the first step fund, like a group, and you will learn with someone who can teach you. And when you feel comfortable, move on with maybe highest level under another coach.


That you will learn. It's not doing exactly what they are saying, because I don't like the, um, how we can say that the approach of, okay, Jason, he's doing that. I will do exactly that. So I'm not that guy. I'm more okay, Jason, he's doing that. I will ask you why you are doing that. W w like, why explain to me and like, um, what's the reason what's the purpose and what you did before that, what you will do after that?


So I will try to put what you are doing right now. As a progression from what you did last year and what's your perspective for the next year. And I learned, you know, with the hard way, if you can say that, but I think it's the best way to learn. Uh, sometimes I can see my outfit doing the wrong thing. I don't say anything because I know they will stop it.


They will figure it out or, or. Was not the right thing to do and they will learn better if I told them, no, don't do that. You have to do this. You know, it's some approach that we have to improve to make sure that. The end of the day, it's how to deliver the message. You know, it's not how, uh, if I say it, you know, uh, because I can say something in 10 people, two people will understand we'll apply it, but the eight, they will not get it.


It's not, they don't want, but they don't get it, you know? And, um, like, like I think everybody, like when we. Of course, Jane, we want to see if you know, we are accountable and we are doing the right things, but, uh, more we coach, we feel that, uh, I am the guide that feel or see what the athletes they are doing, but I can not feel.


Like, I cannot feel how they are feeling how they are doing and how I can make them better. So I think that combination on between, uh, see, feel teach it's the best, you know, work with the athlete. And sometimes you have to put the parents in the triangle to work with, you know, to make sure that the parent they are.


Part of your process, not against your process and make sure they feel part of the decision part of the program, part of the success, you know, everything, but I think it's, um, it's, it's, it's a learning experience, but the most thing is. You know, if someone wants to start coaching today, you know, just take a phone, like your phone, call someone and ask what w what they think is the best process.


Maybe they will be, there is, you know, many different ways. But for that, that way, I just explained, apply to me. And I think, you know, I, this is what I really believe. Yeah, fair enough. So, I mean, you know, to just to capture in summarizing what you said, just really, really taking the time, like being humble to the process almost and understanding that, you know, as cliche as it sounds, this journey is a marathon, it's not a sprint, you know, and your development as a coach.


I mean, like we often see, I mean, like I can use myself as an example, like look back at, you know, when I started coaching even, you know, Even as, as, as recent as five years ago, I was like, yeah, I shouldn't have done that. And I should've thought about that a little bit more. Right. And you know, like just being able to kind of self assess and understand and grow that way, but great piece of advice.


Now you mentioned that, and this is just the dissect some information about your program. You had a couple of coaches that were fortunate enough to visit your profile. And they were shocked at some of the things that they were seeing or they were surprised, you know, how you had, tell me a little bit about that.


What are people surprised with when they visit your program? Yeah. So the first thing, what the feedback I had is, um, it's like so professional, like we don't have that. So, like it's not rule writing somewhere it's on environment that you have to build, um, being on time. It's, you know, it's something that it's huge, uh, thing.


Uh, and we have a zero, um, missing workout. So I, we don't take attendance because every single person. We'll show up other workouts and we don't have any issue if they have exam or they feel not great. They have no other time during the week, they can make up the workout. And it's the. The atmosphere that, you know, at 4, 0, 0, we start all Skyping.


At the same time, they all have their, uh, maths. They all have their skipping rope. They all start together. They all say hi, they all say, good morning. They all say, thank you and goodbye. And they are, you know, Uh, they, they, they know what they have to do and they know what I have to do. And we all, you know, lead by example.


And, um, you know, the, the, the, the, the feedback I had is like, oh, sometimes it's hard to get them in the water. It is, but they understand when they don't feel great, they understand they are going somewhere that the coach will understand how they feel. It's not. Okay. Like if I'm not doing well, I should not go because culturally be mad would be, this would be that I prefer to avoid that instead of going okay.


Hey coach, I feel not great today and okay. We'll see how we can go. And the, the, the, the philosophy, it's how we can. Give a hundred percent of today, you are sick. You feel like 50% of your capacity. Okay. Let's focus on those 50% and give you a hundred percent. So that is, I think the feedback, the feedback I had, it's like easy to coach.


I say, like it's easy. It's not easy. It's was really hard to build that. When I started in Regina with only, uh, you know, for swimmers at university, they never had, they never met any, uh, final lot use for it or something like that. But it's how we can create and say, okay, like we can do that. You don't need to be in the big city, in the big club in a big name to be successful.


You can be a really small town and really small. But what you will do that you have control every single day will make the difference. And they, you know, for them, it's like how I can build that. It's like, it's, you can build it, build it. It's a story. And raise the bar every single year. It's another story because.


You know, at university, you have a cycle of four years and the athlete, they come, they go out, they come, they go out, they come from different backgrounds, different programs, different mentality, and how they can embrace that philosophy on German to work. And for me, they need to feel they are in high performance environment before they start doing things as high-performance, if they weren't on the deck and everything is set up as high performance and.


They will act as high-performance center, if they work and everything it's everywhere. And you know, it's not really organized, don't expect your article to be organized. So I think it's the environment is something that we work really, really hard to keep it. Yeah, interestingly enough. And, um, it's, it's one of the things that you, I mean, we talked about the, our talk with parallel content earlier.


It's one of the things that he talked about was very important in terms of the environment you took a one step further and what you, if I can use my own words to describe it, you create a safe environment. So a safe environment is not a, it's not a weak environment, but it's a place where athletes can come.


They can be honest about what's going on and still get the job done. Right. Um, so that's fantastic. And just in terms of, um, that culture. So talk to me then about, you know, like this is seven years for you and Regina, you've built the university team, you know, like you've, you've added considerable value and performance of the club team.


Talk to me about how you develop that culture within your coaches, because it's one thing for you as a head coach to bring this in and act like that. It's um, it's another thing to get your coaches on board. To follow suit and so on and so forth because to create that environment where kids walk in and they know what the standard is, what the expectations are like, that doesn't just start from the time they walk into your group.


Like that is a club attitude. So tell me how you develop that. Yeah, so I would say it was, um, the coaches was, they, they were really open for change, uh, but I felt that they felt. Was really aggressive approach. And they were like worried to lose athletes. And they said, okay, what are our goals to make people happy or to win, you know, provincials.


Because when I came the provincial demand, Sasquatch. The the worst time world cup, you know what everyone is talking about the man's house. They only won once in the last five years or six years. And they all talk about that. And you say, okay, if we work and make people happy, we will never. May the, the, we will never win demand.


Sounds kind of, we will never have oddly to making national team and we will not have that one person will win, but that word one person will inspire many people and they will lift the team. So. They were really open and we start building, uh, you know, program, uh, from the five-year years old when he came, what he needed to do, which stroke, how, which drills, uh, starting with freestyle or bachelor when they start flying, when they start the flight, when they moved to a hundred gig per workout, when they move 400 kids per workout.

Because if I want the kids, they do, uh, between 16, 102 K. Uh, cake power workout in my group, they should do 10% class in the older group and another 10% with the other group. So how we can build that culture and, and the coaches, they felt that okay, makes sense. This is a logical progression from zero to international level.


And since we started that work and working together, we didn't lose mine. The last, you know, six years and the club was like, we don't have the numbers. Like we don't have 200 swimmers. We have lot of athletes make the decision to leave the club because competitive, it's not what they are looking. They are, they want to be just active life and which is really good.


And, um, you know, great. And it's, uh, I respect that. But you cannot have both athletes in the same group because the expectation will be a really high and you will hurt someone. You will hurt someone. Maybe you will hurt. The guy is here only to be active because the expectation is too high. Or if you lower your bar, you will hurt the person that he wants to go really high in his career, that he will not get what you really, uh, should give him because he's giving him, giving you his, his teenage time.


He's, you know, four years. Like, I feel like a bigger responsibility when the athlete commit to work with you for three, four years, it's, it's, it's a big time and they want to be the best as I can. And, you know, creating that environment that helped us to have, you know, athlete in junior pan parks in 2016 and 2018 and, you know, open water, uh, the junior ward and keeping, having athletes Middle-East at youth sport.


And we never had before, you know, and I, I think that the coaches helped a lot on doing that and. We will, you know, keep pushing the envelope and try to improve our program because we really think that our program, we can improve the lot, uh, and the environment will improve a lot and the parents, they understand the expectation.


So, um, So, um, the coaches, my assistant coaches played like really, really good role to help the team to achieve where, where we are today. Because I always say like all the way today, I'm coaching the trials of the 2021, the 20, 23. They are not in my group yet in 20, 28, they are not in your group yet. So if we have that connection and if we all work in that, Uh, you know, uh, directions, we will have, you know, a new pool because someone will go to another.


We will have a new, uh, brand new pool because, uh, some people went to the high stage and they be, you know, they will have impact on the sport and, you know, yes, it's only 1% of the team. They will achieve that. But 99% will, uh, use or, uh, will be impact by the result and what they will bring to the team.


Yeah, sure. I mean, like it's definitely a team culture is what you're describing. And you know, like when, you know, you ask the question when we win, who wins with us. Right. And it's really the whole team. Cause it is a massive process. Um, you talked a little bit about, you know, being in Regina and stuff like that now.


Given the history of Regina. I mean like Regina is one of the most storied swimming towns, like unexpectedly swimming towns in the country. Like there's massive history there. Um, so I guess a couple of parts of the question. What drew, you talked about being drawn to vagina because it was a club universe opportunity together.


How much did the history of the club and the history of swimming in that town? You. Like be honest. Do my homework about the history. I didn't know at all, that was, you know, the best club in, uh, 19 90, 19 90. I didn't know that Sean Baker and, uh, Kevin and, uh, you know, many, many Steve price and many, many great coaches was there and they were like the best.


Club in the country. So like, I didn't know that. And when I, one of the people telling me the story, so like, wow, like how, like, like how they did that here, I it's coaches and unpack, you know? And, and I understand, and my first meeting with the athletic director at university of Regina and. Like why, why the swim team, they have only four swimmers.


Why it's not really strong for four swimmers. I mean, I mean, uh, two swimmers are the nationals and he said, It's you coaches, you keep changing every two years. So I said, okay. I understand now the responsibility is like, we ha it's the coaches. They impact the program, the coaches, they didn't come. And they found like really good athlete and fast athlete.


They came and they put something magic and the athletes, they just. There to, you know, uh, work with. And I think was the best combination between their philosophy, their coaching approach and the, the kids at that time. And so the athletes they went, you know, from, from who, like where is Regina and there are okay, you are from China, you know, and the coaches, like even when they left, they kept, you know, impacting their club.


Everywhere when they went. So it's not only the talent, but again, they are really, they, they work really hard. Like the athletes, they are great people. They are willing to work, you know, and they, they respect, this is one thing that cannot take away. The respect I have every single day from the athlete.


It's a huge start from good morning. And by thank you, coach. And by like, that's like, okay, like you take me about the ten four hundred. They just gave you and you know, it's great, but you know, it's, it's, uh, it's, it's the people, they are, they are fantastic. Yeah, absolutely. And in my experience, in the prairies in Evanton, and it sounds like it's similar idea, it's just very good, hardworking people that live there.


Right. And, you know, kids that are not afraid to follow suit and whatnot. So I'm sticking with the idea of the history of rod and whatnot. Um, how much do you. How much do the kids there today know about like the Olympians of the past and the swimmers of the past and so on and so forth. And like, does that, now that you're aware of that, um, does that help with, you know, like this is Regina, but we can build something great.


Yeah. Without idea. Yeah. Yeah. So, um, like they, they, they know that there is, uh, the history and grades, uh, arcade, but it's little bit a part like a long time ago and they want to create something recent, you know, and something that my athlete, I coached look four years ago, this is what they did. And, uh, Basically the last one I'm Korean, uh, was Mike Montenko.


So he left to, uh, UBC and I think us to achieve his goal. And my message is we can achieve the goal here. We can, you know, build something that you don't need to go away when you are young or, you know, because I believe that. You know, at 12, 13, 14, it's where you can see, you know, really the talent or the athlete they are coming and they have some potential.


So I'm creating that on and that they can stay and they can stay home and they can reach and do a better when, you know, No one did before and to something magical, you know, that they did before here so we can do it. So, and now it's way, way, you know, easy to do many things because I, I feel that I re fortunate in 20, 20, 20, instead the coaches, they went 1990, you know, It's a international airport, just a five minute drive.


It's a two hours and you are somewhere in the country or even in us. And before they have to bus for 15 hours, you know, and I feel that it's, it's the best, uh, you know, I'm, we, we, we have better condition right now and we can achieve more. And the AKI, they are aware that the path. It's what, you know, uh, the, the team was really good in 19 my knee and how we can use that success in the past to build a better future and maybe be a better or achieve better what they achieve the past generation.


If we can say. Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, like at the end of the day, you know, like it's like, uh, you know, being a, you know, a fan of swimming and following swimming, like it's been, it's been great to see what you've rebuilt in Regina. I mean, at the end of the day, like what you described is accurate. Sure there, there was a lot of success of the heyday and then it kind of, it was a very subdued for awhile and, you know, the commitment of somebody like yourself to go there and stay there.


Right. And build, you know, brick on brick, you know, certainly helps a lot. Um, so that that's great and like fantastic to see that, you know, like you're also imparting the history because I think it's, it's really impressive. People understand who came before them and that helps them build, you know, um, an idea and also the idea that.


It's Regina and you can do it right there because it was done before. Right. So, um, so I, I want to, in the last few minutes of this, I want to talk a little bit about, you know, um, COVID because like, it's been all, you know, a man, like a disruptive year, year and a half now. Right. So, um, or you're in a quarter.


But like, I know you've, you've kept things going, you know, whether it's, you know, um, by video, on land or getting back into the pool when you could, and I believe the pools are closed right now. Um, but, uh, talk to me about as a club, how did you approach this at the beginning of the interview, you talked about taking the first three weeks to kind of take it all in accept the reality of what was going on and then making a decision to forge ahead.


So talk to me about the decision to forge ahead. Yeah. So, um, the first, you know, when we, uh, we went to, uh, house, uh, be like, we, we, we, we drove, uh, you know, uh, to Winnipeg, to compete in a Mount Sask with the big boss and we, we were going for a hour, eight straight, uh, championship and winning. And was really hard because, uh, Monta was, you know, coming back at their level and the competition was really, the excitement was really, really high and we were prepared.


We were like going to win. I didn't know that, uh, family things and, you know, uh, group and, and when we went there, like, I, I, I had a call and they said, you should come back. There's a pandemic. And you have, you cannot do that. And this and that. And I was like, no way, like we can't do it. It's fine. And, and after we had the call with, uh, you know, uh, Mount Saska coaches and they said, okay, what we can do some coaches.


They said, oh, we can have grew up in this end group. And they said, okay, you know, what, what, what's the most important thing right now? Our athlete, our health. Okay. Go back home. So we don't need to put anything in, you know, and it's funny because, uh, we make decision to go. Uh, come back home. And we did a meeting when, in the room with, you know, uh, 50 athlete in the same room now is the last time we were like really close like that.


And now I know he cannot do that anymore, but we said, okay, this is what happened. Uh it's for our safety, you will go back and you will figure out after that. So we went back, uh, we trained two days and everything shut down and with the coaches, I said, okay, what we can do right now? We can do, uh, you know, FaceTime, what's the FaceTime things we can do.


There is a zoom, but, uh, you know, and how we can deal with that. And what's how, what we can give them to be happy to meet us in Zuora. Like for them, like what are talking about zoom coach? I want to try it. I want to do things. So the coaches had really great idea on. What we can learn something new. So we put the challenge of in March, what they can learn something new, uh, you know, skate or cooking or playing guitar or something like that.


And the kids, they were really happy to do something because everything was shut up. And, uh, and we start to put some dryland. We put some challenges, running a single, you know, they can run. And we put the, uh, the challenge to, uh, around cross Canada from coast to coast. We're like with the app that everyone can put their running time or kilometers.


And we keep that kept that, you know, going and, uh, we start doing more, uh, workout and talks and, uh, and I, I felt that, wow, like I never. Talk to my athletes as I was working at that time, because we always rush because they come after school and they are ready to do workouts. And when they don't work out, they are, you know, they have to go because the parents are in the parking and they have to go.


So we really didn't have that time to build that relationship. So, and we did that in, I say, opera in may. And after that they opened the gyms. We start with the training at the gym every single day, doing exercise as a group. And, uh, we do, uh, some outdoor workout. The pool opens in July. We start, you know, from scratch with, you know, two K workout, three times a week.


And we built, uh, we built. To a normal regular schedule. And we did, uh, three, uh, a cycle of three weeks, uh, block off workout one week, the really short rest and racing and repeat again, it's four weeks, uh, cycle. And we went through until, uh, the shutdown again in end of March. So we, uh, we are grateful that everything kept open.


Um, We gave them some time off in December because they get. Uh, they get away from the pool, but they didn't really get time off. They didn't, you know, time off it's when you don't think about anything and you are relaxed. So being at home, locked down for me, it's not time off. So they, they really need to go somewhere with the parent or, you know, and we will do the same thing this summer, even, you know, give them a week or they can go somewhere even.


The, the thing would be better do summer. We hope with vaccination in Saskatchewan, I think we have 65% vaccinated over 40 and they are planning to open if we reach 70%. So it's, it's good. So, but just think about the mental health of the athlete more than half of the coaches, because the coaches too, like, you know, um, We struggle.


We, we didn't, we don't know that maybe the athlete, they are young and they can play video, you know, and they can sleep at four. I am and they can, you know, yeah. I don't have to wake up at four 30, but for the coaches it's okay. What, what, what we can do. So I think we did really good job of coaches being together.


And, uh, and, uh, the athlete, they were really, uh, committed to log in every single day to the job every single day. And, you know, it's, we had a hundred percent of our competitive athlete back, you know, it's I, our, our vision is not to have 200 swimmers. Our vision is to have oddly. They are able to score for every single meat.


You know, even if you have 70, we are fine to go 70 swimmers and win the championship against 200. Members teams, you know, we don't really focus on the numbers. I focus on the numbers on the trials, swimmers and on age group nationals, I will talk on numbers, but if you ask me how big your club, I will give you how many trials qualify we have, how many age group, a national qualify, I will not give you the, you know, the 200, because there is some club they have over 300, but how many.


Leading to the next level, not many. And we try to, uh, work on, uh, stay small, but effective, competitive, and better every single year, every single year. So, but again, the COVID has helped us also to review our program, to review what you are doing, how we can do better. And again, you know, see what the other club they are doing.


And. I believe that, you know, if we want to be better than the other club, you have to do more, or we have to do something special. We cannot do this because we will always be behind. And, and oddly, they are, you know, they, they already understand. And now we are talking 20, 24, I'll talk in 2020 aids parties, 24 and 8 28.


And how, you know, we can build that, that dream maybe where you will not go, but you will have some money. You know, and something like, um, you know, The vision of the future. Not only focus on now because the, now it's just depression and it's luck. Now we can not do anything. It's just, okay. Think about the future.


But of course, when we train, we use the power of, now that think about now how you feel, how you do it. Thinking just to avoid what it's going on mice. Like I, I don't watch TV or media or news at all. I did the first two weeks and I shut down everything as my athlete to do the same because it's the multiple is something really, really, uh, hard to keep, um, you know, uh, focus and healthy.


Yeah, that's fair enough. Um, so I want to finish off with a couple of questions and I want to just come back to something you just said, you said focus on the power of now. What does that mean? Yeah. Or you read the book, you know, when you, I listen to podcasts and many coaches, they, uh, they suggest some books and they read the book, the power of now.


And it's the magic of, you know, sometimes we even, even talking to the people, we, uh, we start talking to the people like with the, the past experience or, uh, thinking about what will come out with dust discussion, but the real it's now and how we can think about now, I feel really bad because. Bad performance yesterday.


So let's forget yesterday and the work now, like how, what they can do now. I didn't swim for, um, 12 weeks. Okay. This is fine, but today I'm swimming. So what they can do with now, so just be present. I'm thinking about, because I had the same issue when I read the book. I, I understand that. Thanks. That when I, when I used to sweat, you know, I go to the meat.


How was the guy to see, I, I'm not really ready to dismiss, but I promised myself Monday, I will start training and they'll start better training and they will be ready for the next one, but I'm not living the moment. I'm not really present at that moment to try to do wherever I go. A hundred percent and we don't care about the outcome.


We care about the process and you know, that power of now, I think it's, it's really, really something. Uh, you know, if the athlete and the coaches and anyone can use it, the power of now it's, it's, it's, it's good. It's something help us to, to be present and to be effective on what we are doing right now.


And don't think about the past. Great words. And I'm definitely going to check out that book and put the name of the book in the show notes as well. Um, and sort of final question. Um, so with everything that you've done, like you, you talked to, but the silver lining that you found with COVID in terms of, you know, being able to connect in different ways, more meaningful ways at the time, and the ability to reflect upon what you do and how you do it and stuff like that.


What have you taken from this last year and a half that you are going to incorporate? Going forward and will become part of your process. Yeah. So I would say first thing for myself, I hope you will keep doing the podcast because it's amazing Jason and all other podcasts. Like I try to listen maybe two or three every single day.


It's amazing. It's amazing how the information is coming really, really fast, uh, for the club. I would say the relationship with, with, uh, With the, with the athletes and the coaches and spend the time to talk as human and not only about swimming, you know, and spend the time to, to talk with, with, with, with, with them.


Because I think, uh, we care, but we were not doing a good job before that time. Not really asking the question and, and having just a discussion because I like when I, when I visit Georgia and with the Jack Brawley, with his team in the Georgia and university, like he. He knew every single one, like 58, 58 athlete.


And he knows them. And I was like, how he can do that. Like, it's impossible to know exactly one guy had their parents visit another, he had, uh, an exam, the other one had this thing going on in his life. Like he was aware of everything. And I was like, I didn't understand how he did it, but when we start the lockdown and we had, you know, zoom meeting and talks, I felt that I am more, um, part of their life and I understand more what they are doing and is something I really, really need to give that, uh, connection with the people it's really, really simple.


Hmm, brilliant. Well, this has been a fantastic way to end off this interview and I really appreciate making time, like you shared a lot of really good information about the story, your story, and Regina, what you've brought and so on and so forth. And, you know, um, you know, th th the main goal of this show in this podcast is, is to provide value.


You talked about connection, provide connection to people and so on and so forth. Um, let people hear voices that may not have heard in a while and so on and so forth. So with that said any final words to, um, anybody that might be listening on a run or watching on you? Yeah, I would say if you are a coach where you want to be a coach or, you know, uh, there is a lot of coaches, they will help you and the podcast, it's something really great.


There is a many, many podcasts that you can listen when you are driving, when you are running, when you are cooking, you know, I know Jason. Your cooking skills is going better than better. Just watching some videos, all that, what he's doing, and they try to do smart community. You know, I learned from you, man.


I tried to do some smoke takes, you know, and learning, just, just learning to do things. And it's great what you are doing, Jason, and thank you so much. Really appreciate. Well, fantastic. Well, thanks a lot, Damon. You have a great rest of your day, all the best to Regina and the folks in the team and the university team, and, uh, look forward to great things and good luck of trials.


I know that keeps getting pushed back, but good luck when that finally gets there. Thanks. Thank you so much. All right.

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