2007 Doc Counsilman award winner
Skip Bird obtained his first coaching job at the Porter County YMCA while he was a sophomore in college at Valparaiso University. He remained there through the completion of his master’s degree in English. In 1967, he became an English teacher and head swim coach at Valparaiso High School. In 30 seasons, his teams won 20 conference and 17 sectional titles, in a highly competitive part of the state. His athletes won numerous academic All-America awards. Four individuals won state titles. More than two dozen of his former athletes have gone on to become swim coaches. Bird has received many awards honoring his service to the coaching profession, including a state coach of the year award in 1980 and 1998. In 2006 NISCA honored him with their Hall of Fame award. Bird received the Sagamore of the Wabash from Governor Evan Bayh in 1992, as well as the Disney National Teacher of the Year in the athletic coach’s category.
Bird has written numerous books on training, as requested by former swimmers, now coaches, who wanted workout ideas. The fourth edition of this book is titled Organizing Swimming Practices: A Guide to Training and Technique. Material was added based on the latest research, technology, and experience. Excerpts of his book have been reprinted in the NISCA Magazine and Swimming Technique, particularly his chapter on “Cruise Intervals”. Humor has always been an integral part of work in the classroom and the pool because his assumption is that most of us take ourselves and our situations too seriously. Between editions of his swimming book, he put together a collection of witty and inspirational mottos and sayings, entitled Putting Words into Your Mouth. Skip passed away in 2011.