One on one with Olympic water polo coach Terry Schroeder

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Terry Schroeder was named head coach of Team USA on June 18, 2007. He has more than 30 years of water polo coaching and playing experience at the national and international levels. The Santa Barbara native who was raised in Westlake Village played at Pepperdine University from 1977 to 1980, being named an All-American three times. He also earned silver medals as a player on the USA Olympic teams in 1984 and 1988. Schroeder coached Pepperdine’s water polo team from 1986 to 2005, winning the national title in 1997.

Schroeder lives in Westlake Village with his wife Lori and their daughters, Leanna and Sheridan. The Schroeders operate a chiropractic office in Westlake Village.

Q: Tell me about the pressures of coaching the 2008 Olympic team.

A: I feel more pressure as a coach than I ever did as a player. Our team has not won a medal in 20 years at the Olympics. I feel that weight on my shoulders. I feel a huge responsibility to help to get us back onto the medal podium.

Q: How do you prepare mentally?

A: I try to find quiet time in my busy day. Sometimes it may be for a few minutes at a time, but I need that quiet time to prepare workouts and think about the team and the direction we are going. Getting on my exercise bike or swimming are two ways that I find this down time when I can relax, focus and think. I also spend time praying. This gives me peace and I can give my worries to God.

Q: What is the most satisfying experience you have had playing nationally or internationally?

A: Winning two Olympic silver medals was the most satisfying and at the same time the most disappointing. We were so close to winning the gold. That was my dream and it still is. To win a gold medal at the Olympics is the ultimate accomplishment in sports.

Q: What is your favorite part of the game?

A: Team work. Water polo is a game that takes great team work. It is where I feel my creative artistic expression in life is. I cannot sing and I have no artistic skills otherwise, but it is a thing of beauty when the team comes together and plays as one.

Q: What is the most challenging part of the game?

A: Individuals that put themselves in front of the team. There is a simple secret that helps us in all we do in life. By helping others get what they want, we can help ourselves get what we want. I am not so sure why it takes some people so long to figure it out.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?

A: Being married for over 20 years now and hopefully being a good dad and a good husband. Our true achievements in life should be measured by the relationships we have with those that are closest to us.

Q: What is the hardest coaching fundamental for you to master?

A: It has taken years for me to understand the role of discipline. I think because I had a very strong self-discipline I expect my athletes to have the same. However, most of them need someone else to provide that discipline and structure. It has taken me years to realize this.

Q: How did you get started playing water polo?

A: I was a swimmer who became burned out and I was looking for a sport that stimulated me and used the talents that I had developed in my young life. Water polo combined my swimming skills and baseball skills, and put it all together into a great team sport. I fell in love with water polo immediately.

Q: What do you like about representing USA?

A: Everything. I am a proud American. Sure, we make our share of mistakes, but there is no better place to live. I am thankful and feel very blessed to live where I live and have what I have.

Q: Anything you don’t like about representing USA?

A: No

Q: If you could change anything you don’t like, what would it be?

A: I would end hatred and help the world learn to live in peace.

Q: What other hobbies do you have?

A: I like to exercise and spend time with my family. Right now my free time is very limited, so I like to try to spend that free time by giving my time to my family where I am needed: kids’ homework, watching my girls play their sports, picking up groceries for my wife.