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Kyle Winchester

Kandice Kardell

Honors English 101

17 October 2018

Ethnographic Profile; Gymnastics and Swim

When observing the home of different communities, it may be common to create an

understanding of how individuals apart of that specific group utilize it to their benefit. For

example, a sport with a designated place and time to practice with the same people, would create

a sense of community for the students, and even the coach(es). No matter what sport, the coaches

are looked at as a role model to their students. As a role model, it is imperative that the coaching

environment is a safe and comfortable space for the individuals who are retaining information.

This ensures that the individuals who are being coached, have a designated place they can come

to, to communicate and interact with the other individuals, including the coach(es). Sometimes,

the people who attend the activity, don’t have another outlet to communicate how they are

feeling. So, it is important to ensure that they have a safe space to come to every time the

community meets. Different communities provide different types of outlets, but overall, they are

all the same and equally as important to the members of the group.

A coaching facility, or a place where students come to learn a specific activity, must have

a variety of things to ensure comfortability. This includes, a comfortable meeting area, and a

supportive coach. When observing a familiar space, noticing things you may not have noticed

before is bound to happen. When observing my gymnastics facility that I am employed at, I came

up with many conclusions that further proved how the students utilize the as more than just an
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area to practice. It is a safe and respectful space. At the gym, the kids come in once a week for a

designated hour. This can be any day from Monday through Friday. When the coaches were

being initially trained, they are taught to coach the kids in a friendly manner and to keep ahold of

their patience. They enforce friendly but structured coaching to make sure that the students are

having fun, but also understand that it is not a jungle gym. When a student misbehaves, coaches

give the kids a warning, and then if the misbehaving continues, then they threaten to take away

their tickets. Handing out tickets at the gym is a reward system that is dependent upon the

gymnasts’ behaviors. During observation, I noticed how almost all gymnasts had an expression

of joy across their face. It is no question that all members have a passion and love for

gymnastics. Although, their expression of joy is not directly dependent with the sport. It has a lot

to do with the setting and the environment of the gym as well.

The alien community chosen is swimming practice coached by a young woman named

Alyssa. During observation, the differences and similarities between the gym and swim practice

flooded the mind. Initially, there are not many differences between the two. One of the major

ones being how swim practice is outside, while gymnastics takes place inside. Other than that,

there is not too many differences. Although, when it comes to similarities, there are a lot more.

The first similarity being how both, gymnastics and swim, classes are structured. They both have

a designated schedule that ensures the students come at the correct time. Another similarity being

how the class is run. The coaching techniques between me and the swim coach, Alyssa, were

very similar. For example, she started off by giving the swimmers a task, and it was up to them

to complete the task. It is their own initiative if they completed it or not. An additional similarity

would be the discipline aspect of the practice. Specifically acknowledging how she reacts to the

misbehaving was key in tying the two communities together. Looking for how she got her
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swimmers to listen was a main priority. And it turns out, we have the same tendencies when

dealing with misbehaving students. She threatens to talk to their parents if they continue to

misbehave. While I loom to take away their tickets. We both use an object or a task to ensure

that our students are behaving.

After analysis of swim practice, talking to Alyssa personally about her and her

experiences being a coach was next. Putting together interview questions helped the process of

asking what needed to be compared. Multiple questions stood out when asked. For example,

when asked, “Do you think you serve a role in the student’s lives outside of the coaching

environment? If so how?”, Alyssa responded with “I have actually been told by students that

coming to swim practice and seeing coach Alyssa is their favorite part of the day”. This stood out

because it shows how much of an influence a coach has on an athlete. From personal experience,

there have been many occasions when gymnasts have told me how much they enjoy coming to

practice as well. When an athlete is in an environment designated for their practice, they are not

just there to train for their sport. It can be an escape for some students who need it. If they cannot

express themselves at home or at school, they are able to do it at practice. Another question that

stood out when asked was “What motivates you as a coach?”. This question was significant

because now we are observing the coaches’ thoughts. To which Alyssa responded, “… seeing

their face light up with pride.” Her response was not a surprise. If coaches have such a huge

impact on their athletes’ lives, wouldn’t it be common for the athletes to have an impact on the

coaches? For a coach to emit inspiration, it is only common for them to receive it as well.

How does the space itself contribute to the students experience at practice? When

observing both facilities, many differences arose. Although, when it comes to direct similarities,

such as objects and activities, there is not much. There are not much direct similarities with
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objects simply because they are two drastically different sports. One requires a large pool, that

can be either indoors or outdoors. While the other requires a tall and large facility that must be

indoors, with lots of corresponding equipment. Although, just because the spaces are different,

that does not mean that the outcome of how the students feel after practice cannot be the same.

Now it comes down to dissecting what exactly makes the athletes want to come back, obviously

besides the love of the sport. When analyzing the mood, the mood of both spaces were very

athletic, this makes sense due to them being athletes. A conclusion can be drawn here, the

athletes feel most comfortable and return to practice over and over again, not just because of the

love of the sport, but because of the mood of the environment. They’re not going to want to

return to a space where they are not comfortable with the mood. Also, both facilities were

enclosed by some sort of fencing or wall. This could have an impact on the athletes feeling a

sense of professionalism and taking it more seriously. An overlying comparison between the two

is the sense of community while being in the space. When in both spaces, an overwhelming

sense of togetherness is present. Kids are communicating, laughing and having fun while staying

motivated. This proves how when the athletes are in the space, they are comfortable, and able to

communicate freely.

When comparing the coaches regarding stereotypes, more conclusions were met. When

asked, “Is there any stigma or stereotypes placed with your coaching position?”, the response

was, “… coaches sometimes are seen as just a figure to give knowledge and then go home and

continue with their life.” In other words, sometimes coaches have the stigma that their job is just

a job to them. When in reality, most coaches put a passion into their work that has an impact on

the athletes. It is interesting to compare how much coaches of different sports have in common,

even though the sports can be so drastically different.

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In conclusion, there are many aspects that differentiate coaches and the settings that they

coach in. Although, after the research that was conducted, the areas that athletes go to train their

sport in, all provide a sense of stability towards the student and the coach. The comfortability can

be dependent on multiple things. Such as, the mood, the lighting, or even just the space in

general. Although, another big motivator towards the individuals learning the sport, could be the

coaches and the curriculum they enforce. When athletes go to practice, they obviously want a

sense of professionalism and stability. Although, they also want the space that they’re training in

to be comfortable and free of judgement. All-in-all, the coaches and the area have a huge impact

on the athlete and their motivation, and no matter the setting, the space must be comfortable to

ensure the individuals have an outlet.