By Daniel Paulling//Contributor | Friday, October 26, 2018
Joel Shinofield is excited for his new position with USA Swimming.
Shinofield was hired as the national governing body’s Managing Director of Sport Development in September after working as the Executive Director of the College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA). His new role revolves around growing swimming.
“In 2012 the CSCAA hired me as executive director, and from that point on, I’ve been focused on supporting coaches and creating opportunities for athletes,” said Shinofield, who started his new position in October. “This job [at USA Swimming] gives me the chance to serve the sport and help create even more opportunities like the one I had.”
Shinofield oversees the Sport Development Division in the Technical Business Unit at USA Swimming, working on a plan that enhances the development and education of athletes, coaches, clubs and Local Swimming Committees (LSCs) across all levels of the sport.
His responsibilities include overseeing, growing and supporting USA Swimming’s member clubs with a focus on membership retention and new club acquisition. He will also advance coach leadership and education and help swimming stakeholders across the country connect.
Shinofield discussed his background, plans and more with USA Swimming.
USA Swimming: Where did your passion for swimming develop?
Joel Shinofield: I started swimming in high school. My high school coach at Minneapolis South High, Neil Anderson, was a fantastic coach. He took a rag-tag group and made us a team. He connected with every athlete and built an incredible team culture before those things became buzzwords. Neil introduced me to Jesse Thomas, a club coach, and I joined his club. Jesse was more of a taskmaster than Neil, but you absolutely knew he wanted the best for you. Those two coaches instilled a passion for the sport and the desire to be a coach. If you had to boil it down to one person, it would be Neil.
USA Swimming: What led you to become the managing director of sport development at USA Swimming?
JS: I've been involved in coaching since I was 16, first as a soccer coach in high school and college. After I graduated, I taught for four years, followed by four years working in an organization that served as an intermediary between corporations and public schools all while balancing coaching high school at my rival high school and then later as the head coach and executive director at Richfield Swim Club. University of Minnesota head coach Jean Freeman convinced me to leave my day job and coach full-time both as the volunteer assistant at Minnesota and head coach at Richfield, where we had also just launched Minnesota Federated Swimming.
I wouldn't trade the years working essentially two full-time jobs, as the teaching improved my skills as an educator-coach and the time partnering with major corporations taught me the business skills to make my club successful and manage a college program.
I moved into college coaching at my alma mater [Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va.] in 2003 and joined the board of the CSCAA in 2004. In 2012 the CSCAA hired me as executive director, and from that point on, I've been focused on supporting coaches and creating opportunities for athletes. This job [at USA Swimming] gives me the chance to serve the sport and help create even more opportunities like the one I had.
USA Swimming: What would you like to accomplish in this position at USA Swimming?
JS: Serve our membership, inspire our staff, and grow the sport. The challenge will be that there is no magic bullet.
USA Swimming: What's been the best pieces of advice you've received as a swimmer, as a coach, and as someone who works in swimming?
JS: Pat Anderson, who was one of my co-founders of Minnesota Federated Swimming when I was an LSC Board Vice-Chair, told me to listen to other points of view. My greatest mentors in the sport, Jean Freeman and Terry Ganley, reminded me that it's just swimming—keep it fun and in perspective—and then Chuck Knoles and Mark Bernardino re-reminded me to listen when I started at the CSCAA.
USA Swimming: What's your favorite swimming race and why?
JS: 200 of anything—speed and endurance, lead changes, and enough time to get the crowd involved.
USA Swimming: What's something people might not know about you?
JS: I coached high school swimming last year for the first time in 20 years, and it was a blast. However, my favorite thing to do is to make dinner for my family, followed by spending time on my paddleboard.