Coaches filled the room as I clutched my morning coffee, searching for a place to sit within view of the screen. A chair held the glass door open on the left side, ushering in a cool Colorado breeze, and a squirrel clucked in the nearby tree watching all of the people in the room. The front row was mostly full, so I nabbed a seat in the second row. Even with my glasses, I knew I would have trouble seeing the presentations if I sat in the back.
My first thought upon sitting down in my seat was: “I don’t belong here.” Laptops were open, and coaches were scrutinizing the screens for athlete data, refreshing the page if an athlete had a race that day. I left my laptop in the dorm room and laid my yellow legal pad on the table next to my Pilot precise pens of varying colors. I prefer to take notes longhand. Some coaches chatted if they already knew each other, but most were quiet and working hard before the start of the coaching clinic.
The more I listened and learned from the coaches around me and from the experienced presenters at the Level 1 Coaching Clinic at the OTC in Colorado Springs, I realized that I did actually belong and that I can do this. We learned together, ate all of our meals together, and pressed our faces on the glass of the Olympic Training Center pool for a glimpse of Michael Phelps (he wasn’t there even though he usually trains in Colorado Springs in May). Turns out, I was in a room full of data geeks and crazy endurance athletes with few toenails. I was in heaven.