Sunday, December 9, 2012


Back in the day, I was a pretty fair swimmer and ended up going to a large D1 university with a strong swimming program. I knew going in that it wasn't going to be easy - I had no desire to be a big fish in a small pond. I wanted to swim with and against some of the best in the country and the world. It was no cake-walk and, in my first year, there were meets that the freshman would joke "Dude, just don't be DFL!". "DFL", for us, meant "Dead. F---ing. Last."

The shift from dreams of glory, to fears of failure and embarrassment, back to the middle of the pack, and then to dream of glory once again was a great experience. I needed it. Later in life, when I had injuries, and when I became serious about coaching, and when I became a parent, those lessons in empathy, humility and perseverance were invaluable.

When you're learning the ropes, those first competitive experiences can potentially be a springboard for further success, or demotivate an athlete entirely before they've even begun to express their latent potential. DFL can be a lot easier to take if you have successful experiences already banked to cushion the blow.

Recently, my son was DFL in his very first bouldering competition. I was concerned that the placing would hurt his interest in climbing but, two months later, he wanted to enter another bouldering competition. He worked through his "problems", using all of his available time, never getting flustered. I was proud of his effort and he was ecstatic about his 8th place (out of 10) finish. We later laughed when it looked like 9th and 10th places went to entries that never showed up, but there's a valuable lesson there too!! DFL is infinitely better than never even throwing your hat into the ring. You have to show up!


BrockLeggins said...

Hey Boris, been following the Facebook posts as well - it's great to see "the lad" is finding something to enjoy and be passionate about. It's also great to see a parent willing to let their child find those things on their own, as opposed to pushing him into sports that YOU want him to do (though that can be important, too). It's also great to see he didn't let that first poor performance hold him back!

Boris said...

Thanks Brock! I have a Christmas gift for you... Hopefully you don't already have a copy. I'll be in touch!

firemama said...


Love the pic of your son! Entering my first bouldering competition tonight..... lol Will be thinking of you guys. And hoping to crush.... All the best to you in the holiday season and thanks again for the t's. The kids look mighty cute in them and I dare say I am loving mine too although I ain't lifting the way I used too. Ahh well. :)

Boris said...

Thank you Firemama! Nice to hear from you. Good luck - let me know how you do!