By Amy Padilla//Contributor | Monday, March 9, 2020
Head coach Mike Novell, of the Fort Collins Area Swim Team, has a passion for what he does. Novell has achieved a lot in his short time with FAST, bringing his wealth of knowledge and previous coaching experience to the table to help the team grow. Not only that, but he works hard at upholding his physical, intellectual and emotional wellness, which he says promotes a positive atmosphere and mindset within his psyche.
Having a balance between one’s physical, mental and emotional self is especially important when teaching others to do the same. Novell started with FAST as the Head Age Group Coach in October of 2013. While training the age group, Novell helped the swimmers raise the bar to accomplish State, Sectional, and Junior National first-place finishes. He took over as head coach in 2016 and aided FAST in achieving its first Silver Medal and Gold Medal club excellence status.
However, Novell’s accomplishments as a coach accelerated due to his own personal wellness.
“Being physically active is very important to my wellness overall. I think this can mean different things for different coaches, but everybody should find something they can do to work on their physical health. For me, I prefer to mix one of my hobbies with my physical fitness. I find that I’m in a much better place when I’m doing something I like while getting in some exercise. I prefer to do things outdoors like running, mountain biking and hiking,” he said.
“As a coach, it’s important to lead by example. I hope that I present myself and my lifestyle in a way that lets the athletes look up to me. I’m well past the age where I could remotely do what my kids do in the water, but the kids respect when I’m regular in my workout routine as well. I really try to make healthy food choices when I’m eating with my athletes and just lead a healthy lifestyle in general. Physical wellness, combined with some curiosity, can help coaches come up with some creative ways to make kids faster.”
“Seeking knowledge makes a person more mindful as well as more well-rounded. I think moving through life with an open mind is much more fun than being combative and scared of change. Searching for truth and learning new skills stimulates my mind and keeps me sharp. As a new dad, it has helped me be adaptable to the ever-changing world of raising children. I also think it has helped me enjoy some of the simpler things in life, which helps navigate the daily grind.
He continued, “Coaching is a relationship business. It’s important to think of the athletes we coach as people first. Being knowledgeable in different areas helps build relationships and helps swimmers build trust in me. My most enjoyable conversations with athletes have been about backcountry skiing, welding, and rock climbing. Those conversations strengthen the coach-athlete bond and help to squash doubt and build belief.
“Coaches also require a myriad of problem-solving skills. Because we are dealing with human beings, every situation requires its own solution. Intellectual Wellness helps a person be open minded enough to seek out those solutions.”
“I’m very lucky to have a spouse who understands the coaching profession very well (she’s also a swim coach). My most valuable tool is simply talking with her at the end of the day. We always ask how each other’s workouts went, and we offer each other feedback. Recently, I began keeping a journal, which helps me think more critically about the words and phrases in my own head. It helps to see where I can improve my own positive self-talk and what things are bothering me.