By Lauren Hardy//Correspondent
While coaching part-time and working on getting her Masters at Villanova University to become an English professor, Carol Capitani realized that a career in swim coaching was a lot more rewarding than writing papers.
As she saw it, if she wanted to make a difference (and she most certainly did), she knew that she could probably teach more on the pool deck than she ever could in the classroom.
Though she admits coaching can be very difficult, she most enjoys “getting to the end of the day and knowing I’ve been able to help people through things they didn’t think they could handle.”
The 2013-2014 season marked Capitani’s second as head coach of women’s swimming at the University of Texas. After leaving her coaching position at Georgia to work in a completely different part of the U.S., her first season ended with a bang. Not only did the Longhorns place ninth at the 2013 NCAA Championships, but under her leadership, Texas also received its first NCAA individual swimming title in 12 years. This year, the team took another step of improvement, placing 6th at the 2014 NCAA Championships.
“Moving to another state and starting over with a new team and new life was a big challenge,” Capitani says. “[But] I love what I do and where I am, and am fortunate to be able to work with a great staff and fellow coaches at Texas.”
Last year we featured Capitani in our “20 Question Tuesday” story series, but this year, she is awarded May’s Women in Coaching spotlight for her success and track record of molding swimmers into mentally strong and well-rounded champions.
Her secret? She goes beyond challenging swimmers to achieve success in the pool. She challenges them to grow and enhance their personal life skills, too.
As a mother, wife and devoted coach, Capitani doesn’t have time to waste. Instead, she maximizes each moment to move the team forward in any way she can, and is committed to continuing her coaching education. In April 2014, she attended the National Coaches meeting, which provided her with many opportunities to talk to other coaches about what they do to be successful.
“There’s a little part of everyone’s program worth stealing (i.e. the benefit of shared ideas), and I came home inspired and with new ways of looking at current problems,” she says.
Capitani encourages other coaches not to be afraid of reaching out to and encouraging one another—in fact, that willingness to develop relationships is how she got to where she is today.
“There are so many coaches who have inspired me and who have been a part of my career as an athlete and as a coach,” Capitani said. “I am grateful for those who encouraged me to stay in this profession and to the many who have helped me along the way.”
Here are Capitani’s 5 keys to coaching success:
It depends on what your definition of success is…I think in my life the following things have always been important:
1. Caring more about the person than the athlete.
2. Learning from others, and using this knowledge in ways that fit me.
3. Being honest.
4. Being myself.
5. Being open to try the things that scare me most.