Written By: Kellen Beckwith
To be honest, this is my first time writing a blog and it has been more challenging than I anticipated. I think the biggest challenge for me is what to talk about. I wanted to do something that would be a value to others. After a week or two of struggling I came to the question, why do you coach?
To give you some background on myself, I wasn’t always a swimmer and was not planning on being a coach. I wouldn’t change it for the world! I grew up a soccer player and after not making the basketball team freshman year I joined the swim team as my winter sport. Fast forward a few years, I decided to attend a Division 3 school and was a 4 year All-American swimmer. The plan after school was always to work with others. At first it was going to be youth ministry, then high school math teacher while coaching high school athletics. Then one day I looked at my college coach, Jake Taber, and said I want to do what you do. I tell you this, because it gets to why I coach. I coach to compassionately work with amazing people to help them grow and mentor people. That was my experience as a student-athlete and I want to be able to do the same.
Over the past few months, the world has been rattled. It has given us a lot of time to do a good amount of reflecting. I know we ask our athletes to reflect on their “Why”. Why do they swim? What is at the core of being part of the sport? We all know it is not the most popular sport out there, you truly have to have a passion for it. It is a challenging sport. I think as coaches we have to do the same. What is the core of us being on deck?
We so easily can get caught up in our everyday routines of administrative work, writing workouts, formulating drylands, fundraising, recruiting, and all of other logistical facets of the profession. The X’s and O’s can sometimes feel the most important. Heck as a young coach especially you feel like you have to write the perfect workout every time. This is the part for me where I have learned to hit pause. I want to transformational coach over transactional coach. I know those are big flashy words, but it is the core. It is much bigger than the workouts. This is more than getting the people you work with to be fast. It can be a product of it. There is more than a person in a swimsuit in front of us. There is a son/daughter, student, multi-sport athlete, musician, kid, artist, and so much more. Every one of our athletes are unique. Swimming is the commonality in all of it. It is a place where they can challenge themselves, learn great life skills, and compete. Don’t get me wrong, I am an extremely competitive person and hate to lose, but I do this to make a difference in the lives that I come in contact with.
To wrap this up, the goal of my post was to provoke. Reflect on the question, why do you coach? To take it one step further, how is your “Why” played out in the everyday life as you coach. Let that core be known in the way you are on deck every day. Be true to your “Why” and yourself. Don’t get me wrong, everyone has a moment they feel like they can be Bobby Knight and throw a chair, but that is not the way we coach. We are humans too, but it is how we handle the situations. Be true to you as a coach and why you coach. Thank you for taking the time to read this and hope you were able to get something useful from it. If you want to talk more, feel free to email me.
Kellen Beckwith returns in 2020-21 for his ninth year with the Denison men's and women's swimming & diving teams and his first since being promoted to Associate Head Coach following the 2019-20 campaign. In eight seasons with the Big Red, Denison's men have won three national championships to go along with three runner-up national finishes and one third-place finish. The most recent national championship occurred this last season in 2019 in Greensboro, North Carolina. The women have logged seven top-four national finishes. At the conference level, the men's and women's programs have combined for 12 championships.
Additionally, over the past four seasons Beckwith has overseen the development of the sprint program. Beckwith came to Granville after one year as the assistant swimming and diving coach at Hope College in Holland, Mich. A 2011 graduate of Olivet College, Beckwith graduated Summa Cum Laude with a major in mathematics. A four-year member of the Olivet swimming and diving team, Beckwith was a four-time All-American backstroker and three-time Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association champion. He was twice named to the NCAA’s Elite 88 and in 2011, he was named the Capital One Academic All-America® of the Year. That prestigious honor came after earning first-team Academic All-America® honors and four College Swimming Coaches Association Scholar All-America awards. In December of 2015, Beckwith received his Master's in coaching education from Ohio University's Patton College of Education.