The Blair Legacy Project
I never met Paul Blair. The fact that I never met Paul Blair makes this story all the more unbelievable, but not any less true. Legacy. Impact. Legend. Immortality. Some coaches come and go...others leave a footprint that reaches far beyond their sphere of influence in life, and Paul Blair was one of those coaches. Paul Blair never coached me, and never mentored me. Yet still, 11 years after his death, I feel motivated to write about him. That is impact.
And why? It was Paul Blair that built our new pool here at Liberty. Ok perhaps not, but it was Paul Blair pouring into the lives of others and leaving an impact/legacy that in a long and winding series of events, led me to Liberty and the founding of our program. In a way, it was Paul Blair that built not just our pool, but our program as well.
On a side note, I may be getting old. For our last practice before Christmas break, we went a series of “Blair Style” 100’s, a set that pays tribute to Paul and his sprint training. I told our women we’re going 100’s, Blair style, not to be confused with Burkittsville, Maryland. That reference fell on def ears - it is hard to believe it was nearly 20 years ago when a 60,000 dollar budget film took the world by storm and grossed some 250 million at the box office, making it one the most successful indie films of all-time.
But I digress. Through a MindMap and a series of bullet points, let me show how a coach can leave a legacy, have a great impact, and change the course of history for individuals and whole programs, and for all-time. This is the butterfly effect in full force - just one small change in the history of events and I may not have found myself at Liberty. It is amazing how it all worked out when looking back. While I never met Paul Blair, I owe much to him, for it was through him and because of him that my career took off as it did. The butterfly effect is real, indeed.
First, the Mind Map:
- Paul Blair was the Head Coach of the Arkansas Dolphins club team in Little Rock, AR
- While at the Dolphins he coached John Hargis, Steve Crocker, and mentored Bill Dorenkott, who coached under him in the summers
- Bill went on to coach at Penn State, first as the men’s assistant and eventually as the Head Coach of a combined Men’s & Women’s program
- John went on to become the sprint coach at Penn State under Bill
- Steve earned an engineering degree and became the Director of Swimming at Water Technology, Inc., a pool building & consulting business
- After Paul’s death in the fall of 2006, John left Penn State to return home to Arkansas to take over the Dolphins and Paul’s vacant position.
- Bill hired me to replace John, launching my career into the big-time (I was the Head Coach at DII Millersville University at the time)
- Two years later, in the summer of 2008, Bill left Penn State to take over the women’s program at Ohio State
- John returned to Penn State as the Head Coach, replacing Bill and retaining me on the PSU staff
- Liberty officially launched a women’s swim program in 2009, and John and Bill helped me land the first-ever head coaching position at Liberty in July
- I recruited Jessica Barnes, whom I met and coached at PSU, to join me and build the program at Liberty
- Bil recruited Jessica to PSU and all three of us (Bill, John, and me) coached her at Penn State
- Eight short years later, with the help of Steve Crocker at Water Technologies, Inc, as the lead consultant and engineer, we built at top-10 facility in the nation at Liberty
What a small world, indeed. To say that Paul Blair left a legacy and made an impact is quite the understatement. My story is one of many, no doubt, and there is no way to know just how many coaches, athletes, and lives, in general, he impacted through his work and dedication to the craft. Coaches, teachers, educators, leaders, parents, etc...know that you can and do make an impact far beyond your years. Keep pouring into others, certainly not for your own gain, but with the understanding nonetheless that you can make a difference that will outlast your time on this earth. Paul Blair poured into those he coached and mentored. He had no way of knowing that his coaching would indirectly lead to the building of a program and world-class Natatorium some 11 years after his death, but such is the result when impact is great.