Yesterday I began my last month as a member of the Water Rats Parents’ Club and last night I attended my last Parents’ Club board meeting.
Thirteen years ago, Frisk Driscoll’s older sister Tara – who used to teach swimming at Longshore – suggested that my eldest child Gabrielle try out for the Water Rat Swim Team. My wife Peggy and I agreed without knowing what a fateful decision we had made: this swim thing wouldn’t stop until our kids graduated from college.
In 2002, Gabrielle was offered a place on the 8 & Under Team and I soon began volunteering on and off the pool deck. The following year, Gabrielle’s younger brother Max became a member of the pre-team. Both kids remained on the team until they graduated from high school. They swam as 8 & Unders for Bob Knoebel, chasing his infamous white sock; they swam as Age Groupers for Bill Krumm, who taught them to be serious athletes; and they swam as Seniors for Ellen Johnston, who taught them how to be leaders in their high school.
Not long after Max joined the team, I was drafted to join the Parents’ Club board of directors (where I served for 10 years) and later our Family YMCA’s board of directors (where I served during the tumultuous years when we fought to get approval to build our new Y at Mahackeno).
The Water Rats allowed Peggy and me to share some of the happiest – and saddest – moments our kids ever had in youth sports. The swim team allowed our entire family to meet interesting children and adults, many of whom will remain friends for life. Most important, the Westport Weston Family YMCA gave us a committed and caring community, one that helped reinforce the humanist values that Peggy and I were teaching our children.
Peggy and I will always be grateful to the Water Rat coaches, and Water Rat parents, for helping us raise Gabrielle and Max. Our kids wouldn’t be the adults they are now without the swim team, so today – which is Ellen’s birthday – we wanted to give the Water Rat head coach a shout out and scream, “Thank you!”
Gabrielle, Max, Peggy and I wish all Water Rats (past and present) continued success in and out of the pool.
PS: In honor of Throwback Thursday, I have uploaded one of the first things that I ever wrote for the Water Rats: the WRAT News from December 2002. Click to read it and you’ll see that not much has changed… other than our wonderful new pool.