Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Coach II training thoughts...let's start at the very beginning...

Still can't write it all down in a nutshell, but I am starting to have some thoughts about last weekend that I want to write down.

One thing that just dawned on me this morning is that it's been a very long time since I took a coaching class.

I've been aware that styles have changed, strokes have changed, all of that.

What I somehow hadn't realized was how much I've changed since my first Instructor Development Workshop (the first stage in the American Canoe Association coach certification process), way back in 1999.

So - what kind of paddler was I then?

Green! Totally, utterly, ridiculously green!

I took to kayaking fast. My first kayak lesson was in June of 1998. In early 1999, I asked to be a partner at Manhattan Kayak Company. At the time, I felt completely dependent upon MKC to do the kind of paddling I wanted to do, and because of that, I'd stayed in contact with Eric, the MKC founder, after he was, shall we say, invited to leave Chelsea Piers in October of 1998. Chelsea Piers had promised that they would have kayaking in 1999, but I absolutely loved the tours & instruction I was getting from Eric, Richard, Abigail, and a couple of other people who were involved, wasn't ready to sit back & quietly wait for Chelsea Piers to bring in some mystery company to replace the people I was already regarding as my coaches. What they were coaching me for, I had no clue, but I liked the process & the way I was learning. By the end of that first year, I had the basics - a good solid forward stroke (that was courtesy of Richard's patience on a tour one day & probably laid the foundation for everything else - before that, it was all I could do to keep up), bracing, edging, good directional contral. No rolling, no fancy control strokes, but by October, I had done my first circumnavigation of Manhattan. I was beat at the end - we all were, that one got interesting! - but for an NYC Paddler, that first trip around Manhattan is such a benchmark.

So, as I said, when I found out from Fred at Chelsea Piers that they were ending their relationship with MKC, I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach. Whaddayamean, no more paddling for the year? We were still having some beautiful Fall paddling, I was so excited about what I was learning and doing - I couldn't just accept it & wait for the next season. Even then, I wanted to have at least some insight on what was going on.

Huh...perhaps that was the earliest root of my devotion to the local kayak grapevine.

Well, I was on the phone with Eric one night (boy, this was before I had personal email, and still actually called people when I wanted to know what was going on), he was describing the plans that he, Richard, and a couple of other people who were already working to move MKC to the barge at Pier 63 were making, and it just sounded like such an exciting project that I finally took a deep breath & asked if I could be part of the business.

Didn't have much more to offer than enthusiasm, those basic skills I'd listed, and and some cash. For some reason, though, nobody said no, so I wrote my check & off we all went. Those were the days of the rustpeople, the days when all of Eric's old clients from MKC were going to political meetings (that was back in the days before the Trust got the money that made them the Trust, at the time they were a Conservancy), writing letters, chipping rust when we needed to, anything to get our favorite kayak company up & running again.

That first season, I assisted in a lot of classes. Learned a lot from watching Eric & Richard - two very good instructors with two extremely different styles. Watching watching watching, all the time - observing what got corrected, what got praised, how they went through a class - I think I may have been soaking up more in each class than half the paying students.

It was a great way to start learning to teach. I did get overconfident once or twice, but managed to learn the lessons I needed to without drowning anyone...

By Fall of 1999, Richard decided to help me make my first step on the road to getting my ACA instructor certification.

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