Almost 7 years ago the NAC Competitive Team age group coaching staff began to reimagine what it means to be a NAC age group swimmer.  In this process, the staff began to look at what character skills these young athletes were developing by being a part of the NAC team.  As they began to start identifying some of these characteristics, they quickly realized that many of them were reflected in the John Wooden Pyramid of Success.

For those of you who may not have heard of him, John Wooden was the UCLA Basketball coach who led the Bruins to a record 10 national championships. He was also the first person to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as both an athlete and a coach. He wrote numerous books after his coaching career and created The Pyramid of Success, which is where he outlined the characteristics of an athlete that are needed in order to achieve competitive greatness.  As both a successful athlete and coach, John Wooden’s legacy is rich with insight and wisdom for both coaches and athletes across the board.

Using the Pyramid of Success as a model, the NAC Age Group Practice Group Awards were reinvented in order to highlight some of the foundational characteristics that are pertinent to the overall purpose of the athlete.  It is these life-skills that are developed during a child’s progression through the NAC Age Group program that they will carry with them long after their time spent in the water. By reinventing the practice group awards and recognizing swimmers based upon the development of their character, the coaches found that they were better able to emphasize the importance of the process and the development of the child as person 1st in their daily interactions with the swimmers at practice.  With this the age group program has blossomed over the years. The coach-swimmer relationships have been strengthened and the athletes have learned the importance of what it takes to be a good teammate, as they work toward their own goal of becoming the best swimmer they can be.

The following are the NAC Age Group Practice Group Awards that were created back in 2013:

Green Group Awards

Enthusiasm Award: Enthusiasm, simply put, is to love what you do. Your heart must be in it. If your heart is not in it you cannot prepare and perform at your highest level. An enthusiastic swimmer will brush off on those they come into contact with on a daily basis. The Enthusiasm Award goes to the person who has a real love for the sport of swimming, so much so that they have made a positive impact on the other swimmers in the group.

Friendship Award: The two most important qualities of true friendship are respect and camaraderie. In this sense, friendship does not mean winning another’s affection or seeking to become buddies. At the Green Group level, friendship means demonstrating a general sense of goodwill and mutual respect for the other swimmers. The Friendship Award goes to the person who is supportive and courteous to all of their teammates.

Loyalty Award: Loyalty to your team first starts with being loyal to yourself and your values. At the Green Group level it means being interested and attuned to the other swimmers around you. The result of showing loyalty to your team is that you become a positive influence on them. The Loyalty Award goes to the person who is courageous, dependable and unwilling to compromise their values.

White Group Awards

Cooperation Award: In order to reach your full potential as an athlete, you must learn cooperation – working together to accomplish the common goal. At the White Group level it requires the sharing of information, responsibilities, and tasks for the good of the entire group. The Cooperation Award goes to the person who derives pride from the efforts, achievements, and successes of the entire group and the praises it receives.

Industriousness Award: Industriousness is the most fundamental trait of competitive greatness. At the White Group level it means putting forth your best physical and mental effort, enabling you to get stronger, as well as learn and develop the skills needed to be a better swimmer. The Industriousness Award goes to the person who not only consistently works hard, but who is also dedicated to correcting and improving their skills.

Camaraderie Award: Camaraderie is the spirit of goodwill that exists between individuals and members of a group. It is vital to the success of the team for White Group swimmers to build a sense of mutual respect and camaraderie for one another. As the swimmers carry this quality with them throughout the program, they will in turn be strengthening the entire team. The Camaraderie Award goes to the person who instills a spirit of goodwill within the group.

Red Group Awards

Self-Control Award: Self-Control is most essential for discipline and mastery of emotions. You cannot function effectively unless your emotions are under control and properly focused. It is important for swimmers at this level to learn to control their emotions along with their physical bodies. The Self-Control Award goes to the person who has the ability to focus and direct their energy appropriately for success.

Alertness Award: Alertness is the awareness that there is something going on around you at all times from which you can learn. As a swimmer it is important to be aware of your weaknesses and to have the desire and consistency with which to improve upon those weaknesses. The Alertness Award goes to the person who is constantly observing, quick to spot a weakness and dedicated to correcting it.

Intentness Award: Intentness is one of the most important skills to learn as an athlete. At the Red group level, intentness involves developing a consistent concentration on your objective and striving for it with determination and resolve. The Intentness Award goes to the person who does not give up. They are persistent and determined and will to do anything it takes to reach their goals.

Blue Group Awards

Skill Award: Skill requires more of an athlete than just doing things skillfully. It means to give every bit of what you have on that day, in that moment, for the task at hand. It’s as equally selfless as it is selfish. An athlete that possesses such skill gives so much of themself and is uncompromisingly motivated to achieve. The Skill Award goes to the person who gives as much effort and energy as they are able in order to get the most out of their ability and efforts.

Condition Award: Condition requires being a mental, moral and physical athlete. The condition award goes to the person that lives a championship lifestyle and represents leadership and maturity in every aspect, both at and away from the pool.

Team Spirit Award: Team Spirit means being eager to help your teammates and being gracious in times of glory. For the glory of the team is not you, it is the team. The Team Spirit Award goes to the person that brings enthusiasm and excitement to the sport of swimming. More importantly they influence and encourage their teammates to join with them in a culture of positive competition.

Top Performance Awards

Along with the Practice Group Awards, NAC also recognizes those athletes who are the top performers.  These awards are given to the athlete that has contributed the greatest to the success of the team within their age group.

Chas Morton Award: Chas Morton swam for NAC between 1980-89. During his time in the age group program he held every 10&under and 11-12 National Age Group record in every distance of every stroke between. He continued to excel in his swimming career with Nashville Aquatic Club up until his high school graduation where he went on to compete for Stanford University. This award is given to the top 10 & Under male and female athletes of the long course and short course seasons.

Nick Nevid Award: Nick Nevid swam for NAC in the mid 1970s. Some of his greatest accomplishments during his time with NAC include his National title in the 200 Breaststroke and World Championship titles in the 200 Breaststroke and 4×100 Medley Relay in 1978. He qualified for the National Championships in the 200 Breaststroke just weeks before the competition. At Nationals, he qualified 8th for finals, and won the event at night. This qualified him for the World Championship team, where he followed the same pattern, qualifying 8th for a finals swim, and winning the title at night. The Nick Nevid Award is given to the top 11-12 male and female athlete of the long course and short course seasons.