Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Please Don't Retire Soon: Mark Bernardino
One of the greatest assets I have in my life are critics. I have a great circle of friends, family and anonymous commenters who are never afraid to tell me when I'm wrong. All three have noted in the past few weeks that I've been weaving into my posts not too subtle, generalized digs at "older" coaches that should "get out of the way". I've come off like a grumpy, spoiled little kid who wants everything handed to him. The above criticism was delivered by many, but finally made its way to one of my most loyal readers: my mom. So I decided I need to shape up my act and put some of that energy into a more positive direction. What follows is going to be a series of posts about longtime coaches who I really hope don't stop coaching anytime soon. First up, the University of Virginia's Mark Bernardino.
It would be easy to coach in the ACC and dislike "Dino". After all, he coaches the team that has won almost every championship in recent memory. The overriding factor in the rise of the Cavaliers in ACC dominance has been Dino's competitiveness. It can be hard to be on the losing end.
Dino is never going to win a popularity contest among coaches, and I'm sure he doesn't care. If you're on the same pool deck as him you'll find out pretty quickly what Dino respects. If you are lazy, he will not like you. If you're not passionate about what you're doing (in this case swimming), he won't like you. He appreciates loyalty, hard work and heart and gives more of each than he takes.
All those are fine tributes, but not the biggest reason I hope Dino coaches long into the future. He is a phenomenal mentor to a lot of young coaches. When I was in San Antonio last month, I was stunned to meet assistant coaches from all over the country who had never worked for or been associated with Dino who nevertheless considered him the biggest influence in their own coaching career.
It's easy to dismiss Virginia's results these days. Their constant winning within the ACC can have the paradoxical effect of diminishing the coaching that helped them there. "Of course they won- its UVA!" is the refrain. This ignores the fact that there is very little unique about UVA that makes their ACC dominance inevitable. They are not the most exclusive school in the league, that would be Duke. They don't have the best facility, that would be Georgia Tech. They don't have the biggest budget in the league or pay far more in salary to their coaches- a quick search of publicly available salary information shows them to be about average. Virginia is the best team in the ACC because they outwork their competitors, and it all starts at the top.
Posted by Chris DeSantis at 8:51 AM