I had the privilege to interview Dallas Ludwick, head coach of Revolution Diving in Winnipeg. After interviewing Dallas, I think that any athlete would be lucky to be coached by her for more than just her technical coaching skill and knowledge. She is so positive and she inspires me and I’m sure many others out there – coaches or not.
Ludwick says she learns from and is inspired herself by all kinds of coaches as she feels that there is something to learn from all of them. Having been a diver herself, she was also inspired by athletes including Annie Pelletier. Pelletier’s incredible comeback from 17th position in the prelims to win a Bronze medal at the 1996 Olympic Games is what Ludwick sees as the perfect example of “never giving up!”
Ludwick has been coaching for over 25 years and 20 of these in the competitive level. She is now one of only two female coaches coaching at the Senior International level in Canada. Her accomplishments include medal placements of her divers at international competitions such as the Pan Am Games in 2011 and Junior Pan Am Championships.
It is easy to see why Ludwick has had great success as a coach. I know next to nothing about the sport of diving but as a coach myself, I know what I think greatness looks like and she exemplifies this in so many ways. She totally “gets it”!
She is athlete focused. It’s not about her. It’s about the athlete. Her goals for her divers are for them to achieve theirs. “Whatever their dream is… that is my dream for them. I just want them to be ambitious and happy at the same time. Set their sets high, and enjoy the ride (appreciating the ups and downs and everyone that helps them along the way) in the process.”
She is inspired by seeing the constant improvement of her athletes and helping them set and achieve their goals. “It is very rewarding when a diver attains something that they have been striving for for a long time, no matter what the level. The look of joy and pride on the athlete’s face in those moments is priceless.”
She knows that there is more to life than diving. She equates many of the skills it takes to be a great diver as life skills that will allow the individuals to achieve success outside of and after their diving career. Divers face fear on a daily basis. Learning to face and conquer fears is just one of the skills she hones. Her motto is ““Don’t dive to avoid mistakes, dive to go for it!” She wants her divers to live life and dive without regrets.
She loves her job and is so much more than just a coach of diving. “The thrill and adrenaline of high level competition is exciting, but overall I think the biggest motivation is knowing that the athletes that you are working with appreciate the role you play in their lives as a coach [and mentor] who helps them to get where they want to go, and also as a person who helps them through all kinds of challenges in life.” To this day, she has former athletes call her up for advice and to discuss current challenges they face either within their new teams or life in general. She even had athletes put together frame boxes with all of the sentimental items that remind them of exciting/pivotal moments they’ve shared. You can tell by these examples that Dallas goes above and beyond her technical coaching duties. She gives all of herself to not only make great divers but great people.
She’s no push over. Don’t let her sentimental side and reflection fool you. You don’t get to the level of coaching she is and results achieved without being tough. She has high expectations. She recruits and trains only athletes that have demonstrated and proven strong work ethic and internal motivation.
She is a female coach in a male-dominated coaching world. As amazing as it is to travel and get the incredible rush of adrenaline of big competitions, it does come with a price. Early morning practices and evening practices along with the administrative tasks that go into coaching high performance athletes make it challenging to “have a life”. Ludwick sites these as reasons more women don’t stay in coaching or coach at the highest levels. The travel and before and after school hours make it difficult for women to have a family and be around for children. That said, she sees that it could improve if there was more support given to coaches on an administrative level. Female coaches are expected to “do it all.” It is a full time job to plan all-encompassing training programs, travel and be hands-on coaching athletes. Add to this the club registration, board meeting, competition planning, finances, website maintenance, social media maintenance, advertising, fundraising etc.… and it’s simply too much. Something will have to give. At this point Ludwick doesn’t have children. However, I have a feeling that because she knows the challenges and has a probable solution, if she does decide to have a family, she will make it work – for her family while continuing to be successful at her coaching career.
Many career coaches don’t choose this career for the hefty paycheque. So you have to ask…why do it? Why work what can sometimes be eighty hours a week, at a job that takes you away from for weeks at a time, working ridiculous shift hours, with high stress and high demands? Ludwick, like many athletes, does it for the addiction and satisfaction of the emotions. “The thrill of having all the adrenaline in your body pulsing through your veins in stressful competitions, where everything is on the line at a very high level (making international teams, winning national and international medals, as examples) is an amazing sensation that I don’t think many people get to experience very often. In my job I get to feel that sometimes several times a year! I’m sure some people would rather do anything than feel that amount of adrenaline and stress… but I love it!”
When asked what words of wisdom she can give all of us, she replied…”Just be you. There isn’t one way to do it. No matter how awesome your mentors are, you aren’t them. Take good ideas from them, but be you. Only you can be the best version of you.”
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