Nevada head swimming and diving coach Abby Steketee joined the Wolf Pack staff at the beginning of July and comes to Nevada after spending the last four seasons at the University of South Carolina. She coached six athletes at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials this June, and her husband, Steve, who will serve as Nevada's volunteer assistant coach, also has experience with Olympic swimmers. Steketee offers a great perspective on this year's Summer Olympics in London in this guest blog:
Since I was about seven years old, I've marked time in four-year intervals: 1988 Seoul, 1992 Barcelona, 1996 Atlanta, 2000 Sydney, 2004 Athens, 2008 Beijing, 2012 London. I am, of course, talking about the Olympic Games and my dream of participating in them. This summer, I took a large step toward that dream when I coached six athletes to the U.S. Olympic Trials held in Omaha, Neb. The Olympic Trials themselves were fantastic, but it was the journey leading to that meet that makes me so proud. For no athlete--or coach--is the journey a perfect upward progression; instead, it's a journey of ups and downs that requires athletes to stay focused on the goal, keep faith in themselves, rely on teammates, and as Winston Churchill said, "Never, never, never give up."
None of my swimmers at the U.S. Olympic Trials qualified for the London Games, but I am proud to have several friends and acquaintances there. On top of the list is the bronze medalist from the 1988 Olympic Games, Sergio Lopez. He coached my husband, Steve, at Northwestern University, has been my professional mentor for more than 10 years and served as a groomsmen in our wedding. Now he is the head coach of Singapore's Olympic team as well as the personal coach to two American Olympians, Charlie Houchin (800 Freestyle Relay) and Ariana Kukors (200 IM). I'm also extremely proud of Michael Walker, a swimmer I helped coach at West Virginia University, who is on the pool deck in London as an assistant coach of Brazil's National Team.
And finally, I was overjoyed to see Matt Grevers become Olympic Champion in the 100 Backstroke, not just because we are both Northwestern alumni but because my husband was one of his high school coaches in Illinois. Matt made the most of his first Olympic experience back in 2008 when he won a silver medal in the 100 Back. But 2010-11 were disappointing years for him as he struggled to find joy in swimming underneath the pressure of being expected to win all the time. Nevertheless, Matt stuck to his journey and learned to view the pressure as "living the dream"; in other words, he looked at his pursuit of a gold medal as a wonderful, unique opportunity instead of a life-or-death event. Plus, he nailed one of the best proposals ever when he asked Annie Chandler (another swimmer) to marry him at the Missouri Grand Prix in February. If watching Matt win his gold last night wasn't enough for you, take a look at this clip of the proposal.
Being an Olympian isn't about having one spectacular moment, it's about pressing forward on a journey through many moments, no matter how high or low.