By Bob Schaller//Contributor | Tuesday, December 12, 2017
All the great programs have more than one great coach running the ship. And at Georgia, the success that Senior Associate Head Coach Harvey Humphries has helped Head coach Jack Bauerle lead the Bulldogs to is simply amazing. He talks about his love for UGA, how much he still enjoys coaching club at Athens, and what keeps him motivated in this week’s 20 Question Tuesday.
1. So 40 years ago, you go to UGA to swim -- any idea 40 years later you’d still be there?
Harvey: No, not 40 years ago. I thought I was going to be a dentist. I actually went to dental school for a year before I returned to coaching.
2. So you and Jack were together early there?
Harvey: Jack was here before me -- he hired me. He was actually a graduate assistant when I was a freshman, so I was one of the first college guys he had worked with. I swam with him that year, he went off to work for his Dad for two years, then came back and was coaching us again my senior year.
3. How is it possible to have so much success in one place?
Harvey: Well, I think Jack and I both feel like it’s real neat to work in a situation where your athletes are the most important people -- we’re trying to make sure they develop as people. And this is Jack’s philosophy: The only way you will find out how good they are at swimming is if they develop and reach their potential as people -- as students, friends, teammates, leaders. They have to be well rounded and the entire person has to be accounted for and developed.
4. Every year there are a couple of your swimmers who swim out of their mind at NCAAs or come out of the proverbial nowhere to make a US team -- what’s that like?
Harvey: We had a lot of people do a lot of things people didn’t think they could do. They got confidence in other areas, whether it was speaking to groups, being a better leader, or improving as a student. I’ve learned that developing that confidence is a big thing, and it takes over in other areas of their life.
5. You and Jack were so excited when Pace Clark, Jay Litherland -- just all of these people reach a whole new level when the big moment arises, and they are there to meet it, don’t you?
Harvey: I think it’s the most rewarding thing. It all ties back into them getting better at other areas we try to work with them on. That can often be in school, with their academics. They do that, and they get confidence. I think Jack’s other philosophy is that when they walk in they realize the importance of how to make their teammates better -- and that we see and develop that as coaches. Because at that point, once they are making their teammates better, it comes back to them, and it’s a two-way street where everyone wins and improves.
6. How have you accomplished so much sustained success?
Harvey: I think I guess you’d have to say it is about the program, and that the program is about the people. The administration and athletic director, the academic support, the coaching staff, the trainers, the strength and conditioning people, our director of operations -- everyone working together, trying to become their own best along the way, helping move this program forward. It’s everyone. Everyone making a commitment to the people in the program, and an accountability with themselves. Everyone here is in it to make a great environment for our student-athletes to get better. They know that what they do is important. I think in our program people see our alums around so much and that makes a big impression -- these student-athletes now matter to all the ones who came before them, and that brings a great perspective and sense of responsibility.
7. One of your student-athletes told me several parents have since sent kids to you at UGA and Athens, is that true?
Harvey: Oh yes, of course, and that’s so nice. Right now, we have two boys, one whose mother swam for us, and another whose mother I coached in summer league. So, we have some “grandcoaches” (laughs) here now
8. How do you still do the club team with such enthusiasm?
Harvey: It’s a labor of love. I’d have to give credit to (head age-group coach) Jonathan Foggin, who swam for us back in the 1990s, who ended up being a post-graduate scholarship winner. He earned his degree at St. Andrews in Scotland. He won the award for high GPA (at UGA). And he was a walk-on. He went onto become an Anglican Priest, now has a wife and three kids, and has been the person who, side by side, we’ve run the program with.
9. Isn’t Mike Radford one of your coaches there now too?
Harvey: We have a young coach involved in teaching, Mike Radford, who worked through our program. We are fortunate with our club team to have several coaches who started to retire from swimming while in college but wanted extra work. So, we got them into our program. Many have run programs with large numbers of kids. So, they work in our program for several years -- some stay, and some get jobs. But all have some experience with swimming and education, so they are really strong teachers. Katie Barnes and Elizabeth Turner also lead a couple of our programs, and there is a group of assistant coaches who are just the most amazing people you could ever meet or hope to see on a pool deck coaching your kids.
10. You brought back Stefani Williams (now Stefani Moreno, congrats, Stef!) after she had coached at Ohio State and Missouri -- how cool was that?
Harvey: Because of the fact Stefani came through the program -- and because she had become everything she wanted to be from the time we recruited her -- it was just a really good fit and good move for all involved. The irony with Stefani is that she had her own goals that she also reached -- they were always twice as high as our goals for her! She’s that way with her coaching, too.
11. So many great coaches have been through your program, haven’t they?
Harvey: Whitney Hite at Wisconsin was a good one. And at Texas, there’s, Carol Capitani, who is just incredible. She came in here to cut her teeth, did a great job for us, got married and had children, and is at the University of Texas doing an incredible job and coaching several U.S. Swimming National Teams. it’s just incredible. When Carol left, everyone was sad -- some girls were just devastated. I said, “Look we have someone coming in, who bleeds red-and-black (UGA’s colors) blood.
12. You don’t seek the spotlight and you have enough trophies and awards to fill a pool -- but it seems like going into the Arkansas Hall of Fame meant a lot, didn’t it?
Harvey: I tell people now, ahead of time when they go into a Hall of Fame, beware -- you think you have this down, but it’s really amazing when it’s based on a lifetime of work. When you get there and stand across from all the people who make you feel like you mattered to them, it’s just a real hard thing to look across at them and actually get a visual -- all the relationships you had with people and all the amazing things they have done with their life. I usually don’t get too emotional but that was the hardest time I’ve had keeping it together.
13. Some of the titles you had pretty strong teams, but other years you went into NCAAs hardly a favorite -- how did those other teams still win titles?
Harvey: I think the one thing that is really neat about getting to coach here at Georgia is that every year our kids walk in and they feel like they’re training to win a National Title. That’s further away from reality most years than others. But Jack’s always told them how winning the National Title hinges upon a lot of things outside your control, so your focus is within.
14. Taking care of your own business then?
Harvey: If we can get up on the last day of the meet and be in contention mathematically, we have everything we want -- we have earned a chance to compete for the title. You do that, and it stays with you the rest of your life, knowing whether you won or not you put yourself in that position because you were able to be your best -- and the bonds your form with those teammates. I tell people: You are trying to get ready for what is next, whether it’s the next day, the next class or test, the next swim, or what’s coming next in your life. You can’t get too excited or too upset. Everything you do, if you do it the right way, is going to make you better.
15. Yet some of these teams and swimmers you have, have comeback from such adversity -- Olivia Smoliga having a devastating year after a great first year, getting sick, missing most of a season, then coming back after that and she gets mono again and we talked and she said, “Oh yeah, it’s just mono, I’m doing fine -- been through this before” -- how cool is that?
Harvey: That was another of those special moments you never forget, and most swimmers, especially the really good ones, go through that. The fact is, anytime something happens that’s a mistake, just doesn’t go the way you want it, you have a bad swim or injury, or you just fall short -- that is going to make you better. And it’s going to create teaching and learning moments for those around you -- and opportunities. That person whose been working hard in the shadows is ready to step into the spotlight and step up, and then the next time they are counted on, they’ve already done it. I get excited to see people take adversity and use it to become better at not just swimming, but life. It’s truly what drives us and defines us, because we all face setbacks.
16. You all have streamlined the program to get in the needed work in a smart way but let the student-athletes be available to experience the rest of college and excel in school -- by design, and has that program changed through the years?
Harvey: I think Jack constantly has things evolving as we learn. The big thing is that everything we do, we do for a reason. The kids know we aren’t going to have them do anything that wastes their time. And everything they do is going to help in another area of their life.
17. I like the ones who step outside themselves, isn’t that cool?
Harvey: It really is. We had Tricia Harm (now a coach), who was an IMer and flyer, and we didn’t have a backstroker that year. She was injured so she was doing underwaters every day and it made her so much better. Same thing with Samantha Arsenault (also Olympic gold medalist), who stepped up under a similar scenario with an injury, and just ended up being an outstanding backstroker for us at NCAAs the year we needed it. Sometimes, and again this is adversity, there’s another way forward. We had Billy Cregar (10 years ago) come here out of New Jersey. He had won NCAAs but broke his hand and was out four to six weeks. He decided to become a better kicker than he’d ever been, and he ends up winning NCAAs (400 IM). He might not have gone to college without swimming, and then when he was done here, he went to Medical School in South Carolina, where he recently graduated and became a doctor. I could talk about these young people all day and the great memories they left us with -- and we continue to take such pride in their accomplishments.
18. How about Maritza Correia-McClendon -- how great she was at Georgia but what she’s doing now, and how’s she going about it, with leading diversity and helping young African American women
Harvey: What she’s doing now is more important than any medals won. She was a great competitor, and if you want me to tell you the truth, she was quite a young lady -- she always had dignity, always did her best -- even at a very, very young age. I have a funny memory of her when she was so young, I think the youngest on the team, on the Junior National Team and we went to Sweden. Natalie Coughlin was on that team, too. We used to have to go find Maritza in the bleachers because she was so shy, but so much fun to be around from how she carried herself. We’re so proud of her.
19. What keeps you going every day as a coach?
Harvey: I just can’t wait to see these people every single day, hear what their days are like, what they’re concerns are, and how they are moving forward with their lives. They are, one and all, so inspiring and so much fun to be around.
20. Did you ever think you’d be part of helping shape swimming into this era of growth and expansion that it’s seen the past 20 years?
Harvey: It’s such a big thing that I certainly can’t say I felt like I was a big part of it -- but just to be in the sport has been so nice and a lot of fun. There’s a lot of moving parts. I’ve met a lot of great people. The thing about swimming is that it teaches people to work hard no matter who is getting the credit -- those inside the sport, your coaches, teammates, your parents, your competitors -- they all know what you have done and how hard you worked. And most importantly, the swimmers themselves know that. This sport is about doing your best. People in this sport aren’t “on the clock” and don’t worry about time off or vacations. They do it because they love it. And they keep doing it because they never stop loving it. That’s why you see these volunteers, officials at these meets, the one on deck whose kids have kids by now, and this official has an artificial knee and a hip replacement but they’re going to be standing up for four or five hours because they love this sport and respect these kids and their coaches. You put these kinds of people in this kind of sport, and the result is a pretty special deal.