Looking back over the past fifteen years in the business I can honestly say that Eric was one of the most special kids I ever worked with. His accomplishments reflect a body of work forged from his diligence, work ethic, and respect. I am reminded of this not only during swim or polo season but on a daily basis especially as I get older. EC represents not only the best and most accomplished athletes I’ve had in my program but the very best of men and demonstrates this everyday as he carries on his legacy for the USAF.
EC and I on signing day. Been so many but will always remember this one.
The following is copy from a recent conversation: As you will see the Military influence in his answers short, quick, to the point!
LSS: How did we first come about working together?
EC: I first heard from coach (Kurt) Johns* and Nick Dionesotes about your program. Once I learned that Jackson Hill** was under your tutelage I know i had to try it out.
*Coach Johns now coaches at Lyons Township HS
**Jackson Was a three-time All-America in the 400-free relay team and two-time All-America honoree in the 200-free relay … As a senior earned individual All-America status in the 50 free, 100 free (1)
LSS: How did our work together prepare you for your success at the collegiate level?
EC: If it wasn’t for your program, I would not have had the high school success or collegiate opportunity. Stroke work in swimming or fundamentals/knowledge in water polo can only get you so far; the main attribute that contributed to my development was the strength training that I had in high school. Unlike most strength training programs, this one was the most applicable and beneficial to my sport. Even in a D1 sport, I did not have the strength coach/program to help me best succeed like I had with you Pete.
LSS: What were your most significant athletic accomplishments?
EC: High school: earning all america honors in both sports (swimming and Water Polo)
NCAA: Earning all-conference honors in both junior and senior seasons (water polo for USAF Academy)
Conference player of the week. One of many steps in the progression.
LSS: What has been you most significant professional accomplishments?
EC: My duties as Civil Engineering Officer for the Air Force consists of engineering design, as well as project management with outside contractors/firms overseeing air force construction projects.
LSS: In what ways are you still applying what we did in training, today?
EC: Setting and pursuing both short term and long term goals to track progress, working with peers to accomplish a collective task, and taking a positive attitude to work no matter the circumstance.
LSS: We had many funny and crazy moments but what memory/ moment ‘took the cake’?
EC: The funniest moment has gotta be when Sam (Hiller) learned about smelling salts. No matter who came in to lift (Casey, Christian May, Albert Yao, the list just goes on and on), Sam would always stick the salt in peoples faces to get their reaction. every freakout reaction got funnier and funnier, and seeing Pete’s reaction whenever he’d test it out never got old!
The infamous Huskie Sport Banners. The equally infamous Sam “Taco” Hiller on the far right.
LSS: What was the most significant or best thing you remember?
EC: My best memory has gotta be the last workout I had before basic training; getting to say thanks one last time. Getting to go down memory lane one last time was honestly the most incredible and humbling feeling. It’s weird; I was thrilled and relieved during when my high school, club, and collegiate careers ended, I couldn’t wait to leave. I couldn’t wait to be done with those programs and just simply move on. But the last moment at the gym with you, Pete, unlike the rest, I was very sad to leave. Sad to leave the program and coach that helped me achieve my goals. Not a single coach cared about me and cared about my physical and mental development more than you did Pete. Unlike most athletes and my team mates, I was lucky enough to work under a coach like you. Honestly getting to say “thank you” to a great coach and a better mentor at the end, was definitely my favorite moment in my entire athletic career. I’m very much looking forward to the day coming back to Illinois, first round of beers is on me!
The things you find out when you reflect. The last question really got me. I always looked at what I did as a compliment to programs, in this case it was a compliment and vitality to Eric’s development. You never quite know what you’re doing until you do it. Thank Eric.