By Ava Demayo,
A swim team is a well-oiled machine and it takes dedication from not only the swimmers but from the coaches as well. Over the past few years, the Thunderbird Swim Team at the JCC Manhattan has taken steps toward reaching the next level. The head coach, Alyse Marion, saw a team ready to take the next step. What does that mean? “At one point it meant making the move to a larger and tougher league. Later, it meant making staff changes to add more experienced coaches. And this past season when two coaches decided to move on in their lives from our team I got the opportunity to hire an even more seasoned coach to help take us to whatever the new ‘next level’ is going to be,” she says.
Marion grew up on Long Island looking up to her mother and her grandparents as they took on stereotypes and rules, such as that girls weren’t supposed to participate in athletics. Her grandparents would make long-distance swims from Atlantic Beach on the south shore of Long Island to the Rockaways in Queens most summers. Her mother grew up playing sports when women weren’t considered good athletes. Playing sports throughout high school and into college shows a persistence and a dedication. This influenced Marion to swim for school, in a club team, play travel soccer, and basketball throughout middle school and high school. Taking this love and dedication to sports, especially swimming, led her to becoming a coach.
There is a different type of connection between a coach and an athlete. A coach is someone an athlete can look up to and have a positive effect on them. Marion has this relationship with all the swimmers on the team. She has taken the team to higher levels and has turned the swimmers into stronger competitors. Marion gets sentimental when describing how it feels to see her swimmers advance. “Sometimes it’s hard not to cry when my athletes succeed. Whether it is in the pool or it is something like overcoming a fear, leading the lane for the first time or even just making new friends. My swimmers keep me on my toes and keep teaching me all the ways there are to get better and it is amazing every time.” The dedication of a coach to a swim team is the difference between a successful team and unsuccessful one.
Ava Demayo is a member of our team of junior journalists. She is an 12th grader at Frank McCourt High School in Manhattan.See more New York Sports Connection articles
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