Dan James was honored for the second time in his career as ITF Coach of the Year for his contributions to Wheelchair Tennis in 2011.
By Coach Dan James, special to USTA.com
The 2012 London Paralympic Games are my fourth. I have had the incredible opportunity to work with gifted athletes who have given America medals and honor. Each person is a part of my Paralympic history and I am eternally grateful. I think, because these are my fourth games, I am spending more and more time realizing how many pieces to this puzzle are necessary to make competing possible.
Each of the athletes has brought a piece of home with them to London. Some brought their parents, some their wives and some a formidable entourage. I cannot imagine the sacrifice, support, and love they have given each of my athletes to give them the strength to reach this global stage. I am simply honored to have been their head coach at four Paralympic Games.
The staff at the United States Olympic Committee working on site literally blows my mind. A standard 9-5 is not in their vocabulary and as they enter what they call "Games Mode" it is a full on commitment patience, physical exhaustion and lack of sleep. They don't get the thanks or the accolades, but they make it possible for each team to focus on the very thing they are there for…medals!
I realize this may seem biased since I work for the USTA, but it is not. The number of people at the USTA who have had a hand in getting nine American tennis athletes to the London Games is countless. This is an endeavor that stretches far beyond the wheelchair tennis department and I am thankful to each person who has jumped into the Paralympic fray. Jeremiah Yolkut, our new father at the USTA, has left his mark on these Games and should be lauded. David Schobel, my boss and team leader, what a journey! Thanks for always making wheelchair tennis a priority! Jason Harnett, USTA national coach and Paralympic Assistant Coach, you are simply unbelievable as a coach and as a human being!
Why am I finally thanking all of these people after four games? Because as I watched David Wagner and Nick Taylor win their unprecedented third consecutive gold medal in Quad Doubles I realized that our team has never been alone on this journey. Nor have I been alone with the love and support of Jamie, Mom, Dad, Jody, Amy, and my five beautiful nieces and I thought of you all too as Nick screamed "C'mon" and David pumped his fist. Thanks to all of you for making my Paralympic dream come true.
And I promise as Nick plays for bronze and David plays for gold in singles I will think of all of you then too.