This is an entry that I am “borrowing” from my personal blog (made for family and written mainly in Romanian) and posted last year after the Great Lakes Grand, in Mason, Michigan. God willing we’ll have the chance to return there next year, we had to skip it in 2009 and we missed it dearly. Mason is my second most preferred place to be (after #1: Elysburg, PA) and we love competing there.

While translating it I realized it could have been written as well this year: everything in there holds as much truth today as it was last year.


Any athlete with an ounce of self-respect (and entertaining some thoughts of winning) must have a coach.

Sometimes the coach is one of the parents – at least until the ‘offspring’, having displayed some talent, either surpasses his ‘coach’ or starts having an attitude. At that point, a new coach should be found.

Sometimes, especially when the athlete starts later in his life, the coach is a friend with good intentions (but usually with zero coaching skills) – this friend will come with lots of advice that might or might not make any sense. When we add a husband-wife relationship into this unfortunate mix, the disaster is imminent, because the athlete will feel now he/she can answer back to the ‘unofficial’ coach. In cases like this one, it’s preferable to find a new coach. In the majority of the cases, in fact, what gets dropped is not the coach, but the actual sport.

And every now and then, it happens that the coach is, in fact, a skilled one and knows what to tell his/her student. Even in this case, we have quite a few ramifications: the athlete has both talent and passion; the athlete has only talent, and no passion; the athlete has no natural talent, but lots of passion.

In our case, God gave us an ideal situation: the skilled coach and the athlete with some natural talent and tons of passion.

I, being for the past 3 years (I can’t believe there have only been 3 – it seems like forever) the student with open ears and no mouth (meaning: listening and not answering back), had only to listen to his advice: smile to all and do only what I tell you – and today we have a coach very happy with his student and a student very happy with her coach. And both very happy with the results.

In our case, I have to be honest and say that he knows not only what has to be done, but also how to tell the student what has to be done. The ones that know me can tell right away it’s pretty difficult to make me do something that’s illogical (or only seems illogical or if I don’t understand ‘why’ it has to be done). And somehow he managed to make me advance, to improve my technique one step at a time – up to today’s performances.

It’s next to impossible to explain what these trophies [note: the trophies where my first ones, won at the Great Lakes Grand in the spring of 2008] mean for me, for us.

It’s not about the win, it’s about the climb – the exposure, the recognition I won in a blink.

It’s not about the trophies – it’s about opportunities: to know you can do something that puts you on the top is an incredible feeling. In this specific case, the performance is even more special: it is equally distributed between Category (Lady) and Class. I wasn’t only the top Lady in a couple of events; I was also the top shooter in my class in a couple of events. And hearing a nice gentleman asking his friend: ‘who’s this girl that beat me?!’ is not only funny, it is purely amazing.

It’s not about the results – it is about performance: and in my quest to climb to the top of the mountain there were always at least 2 people involved: the coach and the student. The ones that think they can achieve high performances without any help whatsoever, just by themselves, are either not very smart, or extremely arrogant. Without my beloved coach, I wouldn’t have started in this sport, I wouldn’t have advanced as much as I did, I wouldn’t have performed as well I did. The advice right before entering the line was precious to the last sound – especially his calming advice before Event #6, Doubles, when I found myself in a double ‘peril’ situation: sudden squad leader (nobody took position 1) while shooting with one of our own legends, Paul Shaw.

If today I can take my post and subconsciously prepare myself – the merit is his for knowing what to tell me and mine for listening and doing exactly what he told me to. If today I can look at the targets and know how to adjust my eye/gun hold – the merit is his for going through different scenarios with me and mine for asking questions and storing his answers. If today I can clear my mind for long enough to focus on the main task (one target at a time) – the merit is his for knowing how to get me to this phase and mine for getting there.

And if today I am proud of myself and my own performance I am equally proud of him, my coach. And my pride is triple: he’s not only the best coach I ever met, but he’s my better half and an amazing father.


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