Anderson taken out of the water a year too early
MIKE Anderson looks like he's feeling great. Yes, it turns out Anderson, the former UH swim coach, is still in Hawaii, still smiling. Still here.
He even lives in Faculty Housing -- his wife works at UH with the Office of Technology Transfer & Economic Development. They help out with local swim clubs. His official job is with the family business, WaterproofKids.com, a series of instructional DVDs sold around the world.
"She" -- his wife Gaylene -- "is the brains of the operation. I just move furniture," he says.
He says, "Our goal is to have her become the Martha Stewart of the swimming aisle."
So things are good. They love it here. Just one problem.
He's not the coach at UH any more.
No, he isn't obsessed. But he can get going on the topic, if you ask.
You have to think that for many athletic directors, successful swimming programs (and successful swimming coaches) are more headaches than they are worth. I mean, it's swimming. Anderson tells a story of a former boss -- Nevada's Chris Ault, who he says was a friend -- reading him the riot act because Anderson was trying to conquer the world, when just contending for conference titles was supposed to be the goal.
But Hugh Yoshida and Evan Dobelle had hired him to produce greatness, and so Anderson threw himself into the job. He talks about making recruiting calls around the globe, around the clock, "following the sun." Soon, athletes who had been accustomed to being in a program that had had five coaches in six years weren't making the travel team like they used to. "There are always kids who get left behind," he says. He was pushing. He'd promised Yoshida he would turn UH into a national power in five years.
He got four.
Yoshida and Dobelle were no longer there. Herman Frazier was. And then Anderson wasn't.
He'd worked almost two months without a contract, in 2005, with no reason, he says, to believe he wasn't coming back. Then he was canned when it was too late to get another job. Hawaii has never said why ("personnel matters," of course).
He was headed into Year 5, ready, in his words, to push that snowball downhill. The men and women were ranked in the top 20. Former Rainbow Wahine Melanie Schlanger -- who left the program not long after he did -- just became a world champion a few weeks ago with the Australian 400 freestyle relay team. UH may have been on the brink of becoming a national power.
Today, less so.
"It still makes me sad," he says. "It still makes me bitter."
But he's still smiling. And yes, he's still here.
He also has a union grievance working its way through the system. Maybe he can get his doctorate, he says. Maybe after having gotten rid of the coach of the year, UH might give him some other job.
Ah, yes. The way it did with Red Rocha.