The events of the past week have left me frustrated and angry so I’ve decided to send this “open letter” to everyone interested in the future of North Whidbey Aquatic Club and North Whidbey Masters.
First a little background. I’m 66 years old and have been on the North Whidbey Masters team for about 17 years. I swam in high school and in college but was never a great swimmer. Nine years ago, Neil Romney was hired as the NWAC and NWM swimming coach and my life changed.
Over the past nine years, I have probably done over a thousand of Neil’s workouts. During that time I learned what it takes to be great at this sport. Neil and I together set out to win Masters World Championships, National Championships and to break world records. We have done it all! This is not easy stuff. A coach that pushes you hard is not always a “nice guy.”
There is a price to be paid if you want to achieve. Neil has taught me that price. I’m sorry I didn’t have him as a coach when I was 8 or 9. In all my years as a swimmer, I have had many coaches; not one comes close to matching Neil’s expertise or passion for this sport.
During Neil’s time here, I occasionally acted as starter for a few of the NWAC practice meets. I was always amazed at how Neil could follow and remember all the action from a meet with 100 or so swimmers all swimming numerous events. At the end of every event the swimmers would come up to Neil and ask for input. He always knew exactly what their time was, what their splits were, and whether the swimmer took a breath off the wall or missed a turn. It was amazing! If my two grown daughters had been swimmers I would so much want them to swim for this man.
Over the years I have acted as meet director for a number of masters meets here in Oak Harbor. Over and over again, Vikki Robinson has volunteered countless hours helping us run these meets. Registration, the computer systems, the entry forms, etc. She is amazing!
To just fire Neil and Vikki when no laws or regulations have been broken appears to be just petty and vindictive.
Perhaps this is the new management style. The director and the board of commissioners have treated Vikki Robinson and Neil Romney shamefully. How we could possibly expect to hire an excellent coach into this situation is beyond me.
Anyone considering the job is bound to ask what happened to Neil? What will we say? What will the director say?
What will the board say?