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Journalism Writing Example

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Journalism Writing Example

  1. 1. 1 Kelly Mullady Wednesday October 26, 2011 Introduction to Non-Fiction and Journalism Profile Outline #1 Changing the Face of Swimming with Chris George The air is warm and sticky, filled with waves of humidity. The tropical, humid environment isn’t ideal. Throw in coaches yelling directions at the top of their lungs, splashing water, and children laughing, and this place becomes a bevy for chaos. Even though many cannot handle the slippery, tiled path to the starting blocks, Chris George has come to call the pool deck home. “I started swimming when I was six-years-old. My parents enrolled me in several other sports at the time, as well. I think they wanted to treat me as the ‘traditional boy’ of the family. I’m the second oldest of four children, but I’m the only boy, so my dad wanted me to be the ‘all-American’ athlete. Swimming was the only sport that stuck, though, so by 13, I was swimming competitively, full-time. I can’t recall a moment from my early swimming days where I didn’t absolutely love what I was doing. Plus, I’m way too short for basketball.” George is now 26 years old, but he is still as dedicated to his sport. Besides George’s outstanding personal career, which includes making it through Olympic Trials twice as well as being captain of the Pitt swimming and diving team, he is slowly, but surely making another name for himself in the swimming world: coach. “When I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was in a very weird place at the time. I got a job selling insurance policies at Aflac, and started selling insurance, which turned out to be one of the worst experiences
  2. 2. 2 of my life.” George admits he couldn’t handle the rejection he faced everyday on the job. “You are basically a door-to-door salesman. You walk into these places of business, and you’re forced to convince them that they want your insurance. It was the most defeating thing I’ve ever been through. Being told ‘no, no, no,’ all day long is horrible. I would equate it to working at the lost luggage department at the airport, although I have no experience with that.” George laughs at the end here, revealing his soft, gentle nature. After George decided insurance wasn’t his game, life threw him a curveball. “My girlfriend, whom I intended to propose to, cheated on me. We had been on a downward spiral for quite some time now, but this devastated me more than anything. I packed my things that night and left Pittsburgh behind.” George was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. “Returning home was the best decision I ever made. My family was there for me, which I never realized I needed until I had it. Even though I left a number of amazing friends in Pittsburgh, I was at a juncture in my life where I needed to focus on me, and figure out what to do with my life.” What George did, eventually, led him to Arkansas. George grew up in the pool, literally. Swimming at the age of 6, it soon became apparent that George had incredible potential. Standing at about 5’9,” George is almost the perfect height and build for a swimmer. His dark hair disguises the damage left by chlorine that every swimmer can relate to and his face is kind and warm. That’s really the only way to describe George: he is a warm person, who makes everyone around him feel comfortable and happy. “He loved swimming, and he was good at it. I wasn’t sure how to feel about it at the time, because I didn’t want to turn the sport into a job for him, something he hated. I
  3. 3. 3 wanted him to be happy, and if swimming made him happy, I would support it,” said Mrs. George, a kind faced woman, and proudly displays her son’s achievements all over their Jacksonville house. She has even been able to turn George’s new Arkansas apartment into a record of George’s outstanding achievements. “She insisted on coming out here to ‘help me move in.’ I’m 26, I think I can handle it. As you can see, she got her way in the end.” The room is full to bursting with plaques, certificates, and medals, all boasting the achievements of George’s athletic ability. George was even good enough to make it to the Olympics, or, at least almost make it. George was invited to compete at the Olympic Trial Meet, which is a meet where you compete against every swimmer in the country, and the top two swimmers are chosen to compete on the United States Olympic Team. “In 2004, I qualified for Olympic Trials a month before the meet started. I trained for the entire year focusing on the Charlotte Ultra Swim Grand Prix Meet because that was the meet I was going to taper for. The Charlotte pool is a very fast pool and many world records have been set there. I qualified for trials in the 1500-meter freestyle and I went 15:46:20 and the time standard to beat was 15:48:29. I was so excited because all of my hard work paid off.” George wasn’t in swimming for the glory of it; it simply became something he loved, that he happened to be good at. “Going into the Olympic trials, in Long Beach, California, I had no expectations about my times or place; I went there to have fun. It was the best experience of my life. I have never been at a venue with all the fastest swimmers in the world. According to USA Swimming, out of the 2 million swimmers in the USA, only the top 1% qualifies for Olympic Trials. To make the Olympic Team you have to finish top 2 in your event. It ended up being faster than the
  4. 4. 4 Olympics itself. When we got paraded out on deck, there were about 20,000 people in the stadium watching. I was seeded 28th out of 29 swimmers in the event.” George’s ranking and seat barely mattered to him. “I was so excited and my adrenaline was pumping, so I don’t remember feeling nervous at all, although I was probably about to faint from nerves. I just told myself, ‘this is it! Go out there, have fun, and just race!’ The person in the lane next to me was the American Record Holder in the event, which did little to help the nerves, but when I’m on that block, I’m in a completely different world, my world. I swam the perfect race, and I just out-touched the American Record Holder by 1 second. I bested my time from the previous meet by 9 seconds, which is a lot in swimming, especially since I went my best time a month earlier. It was the best experience ever and I will never forget it. I finished 8th, 20 places ahead of where I was seeded, and it was the best meet I have ever had. Although only the top two swimmers make the actual Olympic Team, finishing in eighth place is certainly something to be proud of. Just competing in Trials is an honor.” George brings this same enthusiasm to his teaching job. When coaching his swimmers, George never focuses on the negative. “I’ve found one of the most helpful things a coach can do is motivate you. My college swim coach didn’t do anything to motivate my teammates, or me and we all resent him for that. When I coach, I start out with what my swimmers are doing well, and then I like to introduce some helpful hints.” Whenever one of his swimmers is struggling on a technique, George likes to practically get in the pool with them to show them. He always goes over basic techniques, no matter how insignificant they may seem, and he always has a minute to help out anyone who
  5. 5. 5 asks for it. He is as on-hands as possible, and you can see he really works hard to be a positive force in the lives of these kids. When George left Pittsburgh, he landed a job as a swimming coach for a small club team in Jacksonville. George was in charge of the 9-18 age group, coaching about 26 kids total. Although George had never formally coached, his first year of coaching was as impressive as his whole swimming career. When I asked George what he was most proud of during his year in Jacksonville, he is torn between two achievements. “I think the most rewarding moment of my coaching career, and that’s including my career in Arkansas, was when my swimmer, Jason Ellis, who had only been swimming for 3 years, was offered a scholarship to 3 different universities. I was given the opportunity to watch Jason grow up over that year, and I feel so blessed to have been able to help shape who he is, not just as a swimmer, but as a person. I make sure my swimmers are confident. That’s the most important thing I can do, and probably the most important part of my job.” It was from George’s experience with Jason that really opened his eyes to coaching. “When I was on the Pitt swimming team, I stopped enjoying swimming. The coach did nothing to inspire or motivate me, and he made me resent swimming, and myself. I’m honestly glad I went through that, because now I know exactly how NOT to coach.” Clearly, this lesson has paid off. In George’s first year as a coach, all 26 of his swimmers went their best times at their Championship Meet. There wasn’t a single event where a record wasn’t set by one of George’s swimmers. “Honestly, swimming was just a sport, until Coach George (as he’s affectionately called by his team) showed up,” said Jason Ellis. “George inspired me, and made me realize that I could be anything I wanted, as cheesy as that sounds. He took extra time
  6. 6. 6 with me to help me perfect my stroke, and he never got annoyed or upset with me if it took a little longer for me to grasp something he was teaching. George made me a better swimmer, better than I thought I could ever be.” After George’s impressive first year, the University of Arkansas came calling. “After that meet I got a call from the head coach of the University of Arkansas asking me if I would coach with them and their club team. It was like riding a high I couldn’t get off of, but I didn’t want to. The University of Arkansas wants me? Seriously?” This self- deprecating manner has been George’s strongest quality, and has enabled him to go far in a short amount of time. “It was a tough decision, almost the most difficult one I’ve ever made. Of course I had been to Arkansas, but packing up my entire life to move somewhere I’ve never lived? It was like going to college all over again. But in the end, it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.” George is now the head age group coach of the Razorback Aquatic Club and he is in charge of managing about 95 swimmers from ages 6-14. He is also an assistant with the University of Arkansas women’s swimming and diving team. “I am very grateful to be in this position because I am doing something I love and it keeps me involved in the sport as much as possible. It also keeps me motivated and competitive, which I feel are some of my best qualities as a coach.” Chris George has gone through a lot to get where he is, but he’s not even close to being done, yet. “I have no idea where I’ll be in 10, 20 years; I don’t even know where I’ll be a year from now, but coaching is what I love to do, and I want to make a difference. I have had some amazing and some truly terrible swim coaches, and I want to make sure I can help improve the amazing side of the spectrum as much as possible. My
  7. 7. 7 ultimate goal as a coach is to educate the swimmers and pass on my love and passion for the sport to new swimmers. I want to be a mentor and a figure the kids can look up to and trust, and ultimately make them faster swimmers and help them achieve the goals they set for themselves.”