George Tsakumis’ ‘Black Line Blues’ Is a Powerful Reflection For Coaches


‘Black Line Blues’ by George Tsakumis a Powerful Reflection For Coaches

Coaches are constantly battling burnout among their swimmers, looking for ways to give their athletes a break and keep things fresh and focused.

But what happens when a coach gets burned out?

“The Black Line Blues” by George Tsakumis examines this phenomenon in a fictional short story inspired throughout by his own experiences in swimming.

Within the fictional story, Tsakumis reflects on his own burnout and how a visit from his old coach and mentor at an opportune time helped him reflect on his own “Black Line Blues” and helped him turn the tide.

The work is just 29 pages, but in those 29 pages are a reflection and lesson that last a lifetime. It is the kind of book that gets read, then reread and used as a reflective reference when needed – a very valuable tool for any coach.

“George Tsakumis artfully captures so many real emotions felt by coaches at some point in their careers,” coach Rachel Stratton-Mills said. “Through his telling of Coach’s timely run-in with his mentor, Tsakumis offers advice that a coach from any sport at any level can benefit from hearing. The Black Line Blues is a quick read that can be revisited anytime someone needs a reminder that coaching goes beyond performance and is, at its core, about human connection and compassion for others.”

Many have strong words to say about Tsakumis’ work, from coaches to swimmers.

“A sweet story presenting us with a refreshing reminder that, beyond personal best times and championship records in the swimming pool, the true value of athletic competition is available to everyone and comes only through honest participation, individual persistence, and compassion for others,” said Olympic gold medalist Matt Biondi.

George Tsakumis is an accounting professor. He earned his Bachelor of Science and Master’s in Accounting from Miami University of Ohio, and his PhD from the University of South Carolina. Prior to joining academia, he worked for a “Big 4” accounting firm as a certified public accountant.

He is a lifelong swimmer and lover of the sport. During his youth, he swam competitively for clubs in Wilmington, Delaware, Parkersburg, West Virginia and Thessaloniki, Greece. He has also worked for a USA swimming club as a volunteer coach, co-lead age group coach, and national-level training group assistant coach. George is happily married with two boys, both of whom are competitive swimmers.

To learn more or order a copy, click here.

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Alec Y
Alec Y
2 months ago

As I rushed to begin reading my friends story, a few pages in I was immediately caught off guard, as I myself have struggled, and yet somehow did my best and “lived to fight another day”. It doesn’t matter that I never became the athlete that I always aspired to be; winning trophys and championships. What mattered most is that I became a good man, with empathy and respect for others. My father once told me: “It doesn’t matter that you are not the best student or best athlete; what matters most is that you are a good man.” Coach C and George, through his story, reminds us of what should be most important to all coaches of any sport, and that is to “lead with your heart.” That is the true definition of a legendary coach. That is what defines Coach C and Coach G. And that is why George wrote this beautiful short story about The Black Line Blues. Thank you Coach.