On hearing of the recent departure from the Cayman Islands of Coach Dave Kelsheimer, the National Swim Coach, I want to offer this personal word of commendation and thanks.
Coach Dave is a great person, a great coach, and a great friend-not only to me and my family, but to a large number of families of the Cayman Islands community who have known him. I am happy for him as he moves to a new coaching position, knowing that wherever he goes, his philosophy of life and coaching will serve to enhance the swim program there and the lives of the swimmers under his charge. And yet, I am saddened by the fact that Cayman will miss his influence and direction in the pool and on the deck of life. As any good coach would-and Coach Dave is no exception-I know that he has trained others to keep the legacy going, but still, it will never quite be the same without him. Though our family no longer lives on the island, we share your sense of loss at his leaving. His impact on our family has been tremendous, and his friendship is regarded as one of our closest. I am sure that many of your readers would share the same sentiment.
What is it about Coach Dave that made him so special to so many of us in those years together and so successful with his swimmers in the sport of competitive swimming? There are many traits and qualities of his life and coaching style that have served to make him a special person and coach, but let me suggest with gratitude at least four:
I thank him for his personal integrity as a person and a coach. His word is true; his life is consistent; and his everyday commitment to our children was always beyond question.
I thank him for his high regard for discipline and hard work. No matter your shape or genetics, every child was given by Coach Dave a path to be a winner-‘Work hard and do it every day.’
I thank him for his willingness to give so much of his life to the swimmers. There are few coaches in any sport-in fact, I know of no other-who gives as much time to his athletes, to his coaching and to his sport as Coach Dave.
I thank him for keeping God on the deck. Before a big meet or after a routine (But then again, nothing is really routine for Coach Dave.) swim practice, he will often call the swimmers together for a devotional thought and for prayer. Why? He instils in his swimmers that life is larger than swimming, and ultimately, there is a God who loves them and has a plan for their lives. In a day of increasing secularism, I am thankful for a coach who works with my kids and yours who understands the importance of giving our children both aspirations for excellence as well as inspiration from above.
At my son’s funeral, Coach Dave brought the large crowd present to tears with his comment about Landon: ‘He made me laugh; he made me scream; and now, he has made me cry.’ But he said something more than just a comment on a deceased former swimmer. He said something about himself. (No, not intentionally would he draw attention to himself.) He said he cared! Any sports coach or teacher or any other adult who works with kids who can laugh with them, and scream at them, and then cry for them . . . he is a coach who really cares about them. And Dave cares.
One of his favourite sayings to parents is: ‘You take care of the dry stuff; I’ll take care of the wet stuff.’ You know, after seeing what he has done in the past eight-plus years in Cayman with the swimming program, I think his new set of parents ought to take heed. He can take care of the ‘wet stuff.’
God bless you, Coach Dave. We love you!
Randy, Cindy, and Randa Von Kanel