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Unintended Ripple Effects

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By: David Gourley, CSLP®

I was a competitive swimmer for most of my younger years.

And then I went on to coach (actually before I was even finished as an athlete)

From 2006 until 2020, 

I coached a variety of seasons including boys’ high school, girls’ high school, and summer league.

I coached thousands of athletes (some as young as 4). 

I swam at Missouri State University,

For a legendary swim coach named Jack Steck.

Coach Steck started his coaching career in 1968 and retired in 2012.

I swam for him at the tail end of his coaching career,

But he had a massive impact on my life.

I can say with solid certainty that if I wouldn’t have swam for him,

I wouldn’t have become a coach myself.

Jack Steck also coached thousands of athletes.

What’s crazy is how many of his former athletes went on to have their own successful coaching careers.

During just my era alone (2005-2008), 

There were at least 20 swimmers who made the move to “Coach”

These coaches range from teaching swim lessons to summer leaguers,

To coaching some of the fastest swimmers in the NCAA.

For the last few years,

My daughter has been taking swim lessons once a week in the summer.

It’s nothing crazy…

But she is getting used to the water, having fun, and learning a little bit of the basics.

The coach that is working with her is one of my former swimmers (summer league)…

Who had an extremely successful swimming career in summer league, high school, and college.

She now coaches the summer swim team that I once coached…

And does lessons on the side.

I hired her as an assistant coach on the team several summers before I left.

What is crazy to me is the ripples that take place in our lives (some completely unknown)

I happened to swim for some incredible coaches…

Who gave me a deep love for swimming.

I transferred that love into a long coaching career for myself…

And I have absolutely no idea how many of my former athletes are now coaches themselves!!!


How many of the swimmers they are currently coaching will go on to have massive impacts on the swimming community in their own coaching careers!

The ripple continues!

As teachers, so many of us had either a really positive experience with a teacher…

Or a really negative experience with a teacher…

Which pushed us to go into teaching ourselves!

Over my 8-year teaching career…

I probably had 1,000 students (give or take).

And I know some of them have gone on to become teachers themselves.

I won’t claim that it was because of me, 

But I’m sure someone influenced them to join the ranks of fellow teachers!

In 2016,

Back before I even knew what a budget was…

I found a blog on the interwebs called Millennial Money Man.

The blog has significantly shifted directions since it was started,

But at one point it was all about budgeting, reducing expenses, etc.

I couldn’t get enough!

My wife and I started our own family budget because of this blog!

And Bobby (the writer/owner of the blog) wouldn’t even know of his impact.

Seven years later…

I left teaching to become a financial planner,

Write for my own blog,

Have a newsletter,

Have helped hundreds of teachers navigate their student loans,

Helped facilitate over $9.5 million in student loan forgiveness,

And have financial planning clients across the country!

All from finding a random blog on the internet that caught my attention at the right time,

Got my mind turning,

And changed the trajectory of my life.

My hope is that through my writing, podcasts, student loan work, or financial planning clients…

That more people find a love of finance…

And end up helping others (it would be awesome if the focus was also on teachers!!!).

The ripple will continue!

Today, I want you to take a moment to think about those who had an impact on your life,

(whether they knew it or not)…

And the impact that you are having on others!

You make a difference,

You change lives,

And someone out there is doing something only because of your influence!

Powerful to think about!!

As always, You Teach, We’ll Plan, You Retire

David Gourley

David Gourley, CSLP® is a Financial Planner with Teach Plan Retire, an independent financial planning firm specializing in finance for teachers. He served for eight years as a high school mathematics teacher before transitioning into the financial services industry. He joined Teach Plan Retire in 2022 and his passion for serving as a fiduciary for teachers and a student loan planning expert runs deep, as his wife and several other family members have served as educators for years. He's a proud member of the Financial Planning Association of Greater Kansas City.