Get To Know Catholic University of America's Paul Waas

by Josh Huger (MrUtopia)

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Created July 30th, 2010 02:24:06 PM

Modified July 30th, 2010 10:21:45 PM

This interview is with Catholic University of America's Paul Waas. Coach Waas who is entering his third season with the Cardinals brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the program. That experience has allowed the Cardinals to continue their climb up the college swimming ranks.

In this SwimUtopia interview we find out what motivates Coach Waas and what he does to continually help his team improve.

Let's get started!


What school or team do you currently coach for?
The Catholic University of America (CUA), a Division III school in Washington, DC.

How many years have you been there?
Entering my third season in 2010-2011

What schools or teams did you coach at before your current position?
I was an Assistant at SUNY Oswego for four years, Head Coach at Hamline University for two years, and I have seven years of YMCA/USA experience as both and assistant and Head Coach.

How many all – Americans have you coached?
I’ve coached 8 swimmers to YMCA All-American Honors, 8 to DIII at Oswego, 1 to DIII at Hamline, and we are ready for our first here at CUA.

What is the biggest meet that you have had swimmers qualify for so far?
At the Division III level, the target every year is the NCAA Championships, and I’ve been fortunate to bring athletes to that meet at every place I’ve been.

What would you say your biggest accomplishment has been in coaching?
In my first season at both Hamline and CUA we were able to bring athletes to NCAAs after droughts of over ten years.  That’s been fun to be a part of.  I also take a lot of pride in our teams consistently being named Scholar All-Americans.

Is there any particular moment that stands out in your mind from coaching?
I could give you a list for every swimmer I’ve ever coached!  Outside of that, the really special moments that come to mind are predominantly relays.

What motivates you as a coach?
I think the fact that with this sport, there is no such thing as perfection.  Everything we do, as coaches and swimmers, we can do better.   The challenge of figuring out how to be better, and then following through, is what keeps me fired up to come to work every day.

What do you do to motivate your team?
We try to build an identity as a team, rather than as a bunch of individuals.  I think that’s an important idea to the success of any swim team.   Who we are as a team out of the water, in the classroom and community, is a huge part of what we can accomplish in the pool.  My role is really to help guide and remind the team of our goals and what it’s going to take to get there.  Beyond that, they do a great job of providing their own motivation.

What are some traditions that your school or team may have?
The team has some cheers that have developed over the years, etc.  Also, the men’s and women’s teams do some special things during taper time that will remain our secret.

Do you have any rituals that you personally do before the start of a meet?
I’m not very superstitious.  If I need to have a lucky pair of socks or something for us to be successful, we’re in big trouble.

What is the hardest practice that you have ever given to your swimmers?
I’m sure if you asked my team they’d each have a different answer for you.  Any practice can be easy or challenging depending on how you approach it.

What is your favorite type of practice to give your swimmers?
We have a few different practices that stress group success over individual performance.  The atmosphere can be pretty fun when they have to meet challenges as a group.

What do you think of CUA’s upcoming recruiting class?
I’m very excited about the group we have coming in for both men and women.  It brings both quality depth and front line talent.  All summer I have been running through different possible meet line-ups in my head.  I can’t wait for the season to start.

What caused you to go into coaching?
My graduate degree is in education.  Coaching is teaching, with the bonus that everyone I am working with has chosen to be there.  I love seeing the growth that the swimmers go through from incoming freshmen to graduating seniors.   I also really love the sport of swimming.  I have the best job.

Did you swim in college?
Of course!

If so where at?
SUNY Oswego, 1995-1999 (in a time before tech suits…..)

Please give your personal swimming history.
I was primarily a backstroker, with a little bit of mid-distance free and fly.  I was a middle of finals / top of consols type at the conference level.  Team captain my junior and senior seasons.