Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Please Don't Retire: Bob Groseth

Last week, I kicked off a feature on some coaches that I hope don't retire anytime soon. After a brief hiatus, I'm ready with another candidate: Bob Groseth. Contrary to what you might think, Coach Groseth is not retired from coaching swimming, having left his job as head coach of Northwestern Men's Swimming to serve as Executive Director of the College Swim Coaches Association for the past few years. If there's been one constant in my coaching career it's that I've always been able to rely on Bob's patient wisdom.

I first spoke with Bob in the spring of 2009. I had applied for an open assistant coaching position at Northwestern. At that point, I was still dopey enough to only send my paperwork through official channels, which is almost a guarantee you won't hear from anybody. But Bob called me on my cell phone in the middle of the afternoon. I was startled, but he plowed straight ahead:

"Are you any good at coaching or just a blogger?" was his first question. I can't remember my own stammering response. Ultimately, of course, I didn't get the job. But I did get to be friends with Bob, which is almost as good. Over the following years, whenever I reached a situation that felt lost and hopeless, I called Bob. When I got off the phone, I always felt better.

Bob combines three different strengths very well. Experience does not always equal wisdom,  but in his case he has seemingly done and seen everything and learned from it. He is kind and generous with that wisdom. He also knows how to be direct. Often, when asking for his advice I've had him interrupt me to ask a blunt question.

In this way, Bob carries on the legacy of the great Doc Counsilman. I've always revered Counsilman for his knowledge and how hard he worked to share it. But Bob is also part of a set of coaches that are forging a new path. Even as he stepped away from his full time duties at Northwestern, he remained to help volunteer coach with both their women's and men's teams, much like Nort Thornton is currently helping the men's squad at Cal. And that's a good thing: any pool deck is better with Bob Groseth on it.

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