Sunday, April 4, 2010
What Exactly is Success, Anyway?
Is the West Coast Training Center a success? Let's see, two years later we are still having practice every weekend, we have increased the number of talented instructors teaching, like Richard (Blinky) Elizalde, shown above. Of those who are coaching or training at the training center the following have started teaching in a new program in the two years since the training center began - Victor Ortiz, Richard Elizalde, Allen Wrench, Sam Garcia and Ronda Rousey (the middle school program starts this Friday). Tony Comfort also started a new club but he has since relocated to northern California due to his career.
If judo is to grow, we need new programs. I know that the training center was but one factor in supporting these individuals starting their own programs. Obviously, all of them learned a lot of judo from Guerreros, Goltz, Tenri, Mojica, Venice and the other clubs where they trained. Certainly Sensei Elizalde has been teaching at one venue or another for decades. I do think that the practice of getting in front of a class one, two or three times a weekend on a regular basis makes it that much easier to move into running your own program.
"I know that without having the experience coaching at the training center I never would have volunteered to teach this middle school program. It gave me a lot of confidence as a teacher. I knew I could do it because I had done it with this group."
What else do we need to succeed? We need to retain more teenagers and young adults. Every club I have seen experiences a dramatic and depressing drop off in this age group. Depressing because these are the players who we have often invested eight to ten years developing and then they quit. The West Coast Training Center practices are predominantly players in the very age group that we want to keep.
We have a dramatic, disproportionate drop off in female players in this same age group. The West Coast practices are usually 40% or more female players.
Finally, we attend a lot of events out of the area as a group. While all of the players and coaches have their own clubs to support at local events sometimes when we go places such as the San Jose Buddhist or to the winter camp in San Diego we attend as a group. This builds stronger social relationships among the players (which research in sport psychology shows to be related to retention) and it is also a benefit to the event organizer that has 15 or 20 additional people show up and attend.
If success is having 100 people on the mat every day, then we haven't achieved it.
If success is, after two years, being in a permanent facility with good players who are regularly improving, with good coaches who are also branching out, then I would say the training center is a roaring success.