Because Mr. Coach coaches both men and women, people sometimes ask him (or me if I’m standing closer) which gender he prefers to coach. I say that, if Mr. Coach HAD to make a choice between the two, he might choose the female of the species and the reasons have nothing to do with anything sleazy. If you’ve seen one scantily clad female with overdeveloped trapezius muscles, you’ve seen them all.
It’s just that when you figure you spend 95 percent of your time with an athlete in practice and not meet situations, and one of those genders is a LOT easier to work with in practice situations, it only makes sense that you’d go with the practice-friendly species.
That’s not to say girls can’t be a chore to coach. For starters, girls cry. Usually it’s about stuff that has nothing to do with swimming. Relationship woes top the list of reasons to cry during practice, but so do intra-team personality conflicts, midterm exams, sick pets and the return of high-waisted pants. But, to their credit, girls will cry AND swim. They’re just more efficient that way. Mr. Coach also maintains that girls are fundamentally tougher and that’s very useful in practice situations.
Boys will bitch and moan and whine and complain and touch each other in inappropriate places during practice. They will not only pee in the water during practice, they will announce they just peed in the water during practice. And then when practice is over, they’ll bitch and moan and whine and complain all the way into the showers where they’ll drag chairs in, sit under the water for an hour, and continue to bitch and moan and whine and complain until the maintenance crew comes to Mr. Coach and tells him to get the boys out of the shower.
Now to be fair, in meet situations boys do seem to function more predictably than girls do, and Mr. Coach does appreciate that. And boys, if so moved by the spirit, will swim through a bulkhead if that’s what the team needs (girls would but, again to their credit, they know that heads don’t grow back).
I also feel compelled to add that girls are more readily available and responsible babysitters but boys do make for very interesting babysitters. One guy once built a small city out of Tinkertoys in our living room. It was so cool looking we left it up for two weeks. And guys’ Lego skills tend to be off the charts.
Once graduated, girls will stay in touch pretty frequently for the first five or so years, but then most of them will disappear into their new lives. The guys disappear at first and then reappear after about three years. And usually when they reappear, the first thing they do is apologize for everything they ever did to make Mr. Coach’s life difficult. It’s like clockwork, the way the guys reappear and apologize.
And then they’ll start bitching and moaning and whining and complaining about something new. In a way, it’s kind of comforting.