They Can Never Take Away Your Education

PHOENIX, Arizona, December 30. IN next month's issue of Swimming World Magazine , CEO Brent Rutemiller tackles the question of ASCA Certification, and whether it can be taken away from a coach or not. Here is a full reprint of the article that is published in the January 2012 edition of the publication.

Recently, a letter was sent out to a number of swim coaches by the American Swim Coaches Association (ASCA) informing them that they would lose their certification level if they did not renew their annual membership with ASCA.

This letter told the coach that "you will lose your certification level when your membership expires—meaning that you cannot represent yourself as a Level 3 certified coach to parents, employers or potential employers."

This sentence stopped me in my tracks. The message clearly implies that a coach needs to pay ASCA every year. If you do not pay, you will be falsely representing yourself as an ASCA certified coach. My first thought was that ASCA is holding a coach's certification hostage as a means to ensure dollars to the ASCA organization.

I called John Leonard, ASCA's executive director, to understand how a coach can lose his or her certification level just by not being a member of ASCA. His answer contradicted the wording in the letter. He said, "The word, ‘lose,' should not have been used in the letter. Coaches will not lose their certification if they are not members. We just will not service their certification." Leonard went on to say that the letter should not have been sent, and it only went to a limited number of coaches. He said, "It was wrong."

OK, I will take him at his word.

However, the error certainly brings up the next question: "What does ‘servicing' a certification really mean?" So, I asked him to explain.

Leonard said, "I personally review every certification application myself. We service certification files as a service of membership. No one pays for certification; they pay for education. When a membership lapses, we provide, if asked in writing, by an employer, the coach's certification credentials as they exist in the file, and note that at that present time, the coach is (or is not) currently a member of ASCA. While a coach is not an active paid member of ASCA, if they submit educational units or experiences, those are placed in their file and they are notified that we will process them once the membership is renewed. At no point does anyone ‘lose' their certification, level status or anything else connected with certification. We resume servicing their file when they are once again an active member. All certification activities are voluntary on the part of the coach."

All right, I will accept that answer, knowing the ASCA will confirm certification levels while informing membership status.

But why remain a member of ASCA year after year when you attain your desired certification level and you are gainfully employed?

Leonard's reasons centered around advocacy for the sport. But to me, ASCA is all about continuing your education beyond certification.

As an ASCA member, coaches receive newsletters and the ASCA Swimming magazine. More importantly, the ASCA World Clinic is nothing but a hotbed of shared knowledge that begins with featured speakers and flows into hallways and rooms every September. Being a part of this environment is an education within itself and is worthy of credits.

I would recommend that ASCA consider offering continuing education credits to those who attend ASCA's World Clinic. Learning is a lifelong process.

As my late father once told me, "Brent, they can take everything away from you, but they can't take away your education."

Update after Press Run: ASCA notified us about their continuing education program which includes credits for attending the ASCA World Clinic. We found the following on their website and we apologize for the oversight. (Click here to download the .pdf version)

… All coaching clinics that are known to us are evaluated based on content, and quality of speakers and awarded a "Unit Value" of perhaps 15 units for a major regional clinic (of which there are about 10 in the USA each year) to a lower number for small local clinics. But again All clinic education will earn you some education credits. You email us about your attendance at such and we compare it to the list provided to us by the Clinic organizers, to validate your participation. We do not test clinic education, you simply notify us of your presence. Clinics from other sports can also be credited, but again, at a lower level of relevancy than swim clinics.

You will also be educated by reading books, watching videos, etc. You can receive credit for this sort of "self-education" by simply sending us an email with between 5-10 ideas that you got from each source. We urge all coaches to get their coaching education from a variety of sources for the most well rounded possible coach education. ASCA Enrichment Courses also typically provide 12 units of education per course and 26 such courses exist. You report results either by providing a test if it comes with the course, or an email as above if no test is provided. Again, tested education provides more education units than untested educational efforts.

The American Swimming Coaches Association's Annual World Clinic provides 40 units of Education and is the "Apex Event" in the education area of Certification.

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January 2012 Issue
Contents of The January issue:
8 The Year in Review by Jason Marsteller
16 Olympic Flashback
by Jeff Commings with special contributions by Steve Johnson
Each month from January through July, Swimming World will chronicle the history of swimming at the Olympic Games from Athens in 1896 through Beijing in 2008. This month: 1896-1912.
18 Unfinished Business
by John Lohn After taking a needed break from competitive swimming after the Beijing Olympics, Olympic gold medalist Brendan Hansen is back in the water, confident there's a lot more he can accomplish.
21 Lane Lines to London sponsored by Competitor
by Jason Marsteller
Beginning in its January issue and running through June, Swimming World Magazine will provide monthly regional Olympic previews. This month: Asia.
24 Disabled Swimmers of the Year by Jason Marsteller
Female: Jessica Long, USA Male: Daniel Dias, Brazil
25 Defining Moments: World Cup by Jason Marsteller
27 Pool's Edge: The Gift of a Lifetime by Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen The best gift of all is the gift of swimming!
28 Dryside Training: Great Start for a Great Year! by J.R. Rosania
30 Q&A with Coach Don Kimble by Michael J. Stott
32 How They Train: Courtney Bartholomew
by Michael J. Stott
34 American Relay by Judy Jacob
35 TYR Age Group Swimmer of the Month

DEPARTMENTS
6 A Voice for the Sport
38 Lane 9/Gutter Talk
40 For the Record
45 Calendar
46 Parting Shot

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