At a time when many coaches have said goodbye to the rigors of daily practice, coaching, recruiting and planning for a season, UConn Head Coach Bob Goldberg is looking forward to his 26th season at Connecticut.
"Midway through last season I knew that I was enjoying coaching as much, if not more, than I ever have," says Goldberg. "Couple that attitude with the arrival of a brand new athletic department administration, Connecticut's transformation to a top 20 national university over the last 15 years and the creation of the American Athletic Conference, the decision to continue coaching was not difficult."
Coach Goldberg has developed a philosophy over the years that has proven to be successful in recruiting a certain type of kid to his program, maintaining a consistent level of performance and helping college swimmers improve throughout the course of their career.
"My years of coaching college kids have taught me so many lessons about determining what is important and what is not," says Goldberg. "We all face daily issues that may seem overwhelming at the time, but in the long run they aren't. Learning to differentiate what issues need immediate attention, and what issues can resolve themselves with time and patience is often the differences between a smooth and successful team, and a team that is filled with turmoil. You can make it look easy if you just keep it simple."
Coach Goldberg believes there are three areas that swimmers need to focus on, and their consistency in each area will determine their ultimate success.
First, academic success should be the first priority, as school is the reason why people come to UConn. Success in the classroom will come from putting in the necessary time every day to get the work done in preparation for the next day. Putting off work that should be done today will only lead to academic failure the next day.
The next area of concentration is effort in the pool. "Every day I stress that consistent effort in the pool is the main road to success. One workout won't make you a great swimmer, and one bad practice doesn't make you a failure," says the coach. "It is a string of good or bad practices that will set the tone for your performance when you need to call on your specific skills. If you come to the pool every day with the determination to put in your best effort, you will be successful."
The final area of focus is social development, which is often overlooked on many college teams. The social obligation we have to be the best person we can be will certainly affect both your academic performance and athletic success."I want our swimmers to become the best people they can be, from their behavior in the athletic facilities, to their daily interactions in the dorms and classroom setting," says coach. "I love it when a professor stops me on campus and tells me they enjoyed having one of my swimmers in their class."
Sometimes it is a bumpy road when learning certain behavioral skills that will dictate our progress and eventual success in the real world.
Coach Goldberg's approach has a proven track record of success. In the pool, his teams consistently perform at a very high level in a very competitive environment. Connecticut has always contended at the conference level under Goldberg, finishing each of his 25 seasons with a winning record. He has had swimmers compete at the highest levels in both the United States and abroad. UConn swimmers have participated at the U.S. Olympic Trials, Olympic Games, Senior National Championships, U.S. Opens and Regional Championships. International swimmers at UConn have competed nationally in Canada, Israel, Bulgaria, Ireland, England, Suriname, Jamaica, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Poland as well as at the European and World Championships.
UConn's colors have been well represented across the world, though Coach Goldberg does not take credit for this. "I have been fortunate to have some very talented swimmers in our program, who have gone on to do some great things," says coach. "Their effort and work ethic has been impressive and has resulted in some great performances."
Coach Goldberg has spent his entire professional life in aquatics and has worked in just about every level. "Growing up in a YMCA setting and working in a pool or on a waterfront my whole life has gotten me involved in everything with aquatics," says coach. "My knowledge base has been expanded from teaching at every level and in every area, coaching, swimming and diving for so many years in the college setting and running and building pools. Being in the college setting and working with so many people from different backgrounds has opened up my view of the world. It has been a wonderful journey and I am happy to continue."
Coach Goldberg spent his early swimming days learning at the YMCA under mentor Bob Rowe. He swam in prep schools under Coach Al Houston before experiencing a college career under legendary coaches Charles Silvia and Charlie Smith at Springfield College. After one year as a public school teacher, Goldberg became an assistant professor and coach at Penn State, where he worked with Lou McNeill. He then spent three years as an administrator and faculty member at N.C. State before coming to UConn to coaching swimming. Goldberg is originally from Watertown, Mass. and has a bachelor's degree in Physical Education from Springfield College and a Master's degree in Biomechanics from Penn State. He is married to Alyce (Parrish) and they have three children, David, Scott and Sarah, and six grandchildren.
"Throughout my career I have remembered one quote from a college coaching class that for me has withstood the test of time," says Goldberg. "`You coach people who participate in your sport; you don't simply coach a sport.' Win or lose in the pool, being fortunate to deal with quality people during my time has proven to be the most rewarding experience. I really think my perspective allows me to view the value of how we are doing at a specific time beyond a stop watch or place in a race, and in the context of how the experience relates to student athletes personal growth and development."