Gaj Trcek – ski jumper with Tourette’s syndrome [part 2]

Author: Aga Pająk, Published:
gaj trcek

Gaj Trcek is a 32 years old Slovenian guy who was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome when he was 9. But this disease didn’t stop him, in 2008 in Planica he set his personal best on 193 meters.

It wasn’t easy. At the age of 9, Gaj Trcek was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome. Many parents wouldn’t let their kid to be a ski jumper, but Gaj’s mother made a different decision and that’s one of the reasons why he’s very grateful to her.

In first part [you can find it HERE] you were able to read about his diagnose and how he deals with the ticks. Today, you’ll see how he was treated by his coach and the reasons why he decided to be a coach.

“Ski jumping was one of the best things I could have while being a teenager”

– Ski jumping was one of the best things I could have during my teenage years. Without ski jumping during that time I’d probably not be at the place where I’m now. I think my syndrome is one of my best friends and one of my biggest enemies. I’m fighting all the time with it but because of this fight I’m so strong in all other parts of my life. Dealing with normal things in life don’t stress me that much.

“My mom never told me that I should stop jumping”

-My mom actually never told me that I should stop ski jumping. There were plenty of other people though like coaches, friends who did that. They were scared that I’ll have ticks in the air. I never thought of having ticks while flying. When you focus on jumping, you don’t even have time to think what’s wrong with your dog, what’s wrong with your girlfriend or anything else. You just focus on jumping and keep enjoying it.
Everyong told that ticks will pass but then it started to develop and I had more and more ticks, especially in stressful situations. When something bad happened I became very nervous, and even when it was a small thing I was yelling and insulting. More or less that was why all other people but my mom were afraid of me. My mom is a very different mom than many others. She has always trusted me but unfortunately, a lot of parents don’t think like that. She saw that I enjoy ski jumping. If she wouldn’t trust me it’d be probably different now because I’d not be allowed to do all the stuff I had done. Even when I was kid I was going out for 10 hours, I was climbing the trees, walls. I think I still come from that time when parents were letting us kids be more individual, they trusted us more and let us do things alone. I think the more I’m focused on something that interests me, the less active my syndrome is.

“I think my coach was more afraid of himself than me.”

-I think my coach was more afraid of himself than me. Coaches in general don’t want someone to get injured because they let that person to jump while they should not. My coach wasn’t hating me, he was afraid of this unknown situation. This is understandable because there are still just a few cases with Tourette’s syndrome in Slovenia and probably I’m the only person in the world who was jumping with that syndrome. When I was younger I liked to make small jokes, like hiding something and he didn’t like that part of me. But he couldn’t understand that all those things, my jokes and everything was because I wanted to hide my real problem. But if he could find out what the problem was and would try to treat it like my mom did it’d be different.
Coaches and parents now are still on the same level as years ago. Coaches don’t realise what an important role they play in kid’s lives. Firt there are the parents who are role models for kids, but then when they become involved in a sport then their coach also becomes your role model. Nowadays, I think it would be a little bit different because it’s easy and fast to find informations about things on the internet but back then, before my mom found out what’s wrong with me, coaches didn’t know what’s going on with me.

“The reason why I became a coach are all those negative things that I have experienced “

-If I had a kid in my club with some kind of disease or health problem as I had, I’d definitely deal with it differently than my coaches did. That’s also one of the reasons why I became a coach myself. One of the thing was my syndrome and second thing was money, we were poor and my coach didn’t like that either. We weren’t able to pay the monthly fee and the coach started to look at me even more different. The kid is never guilty. It’s the parents who don’t pay the bills and stuff. However, he made me feel guilty. I decided to be coach, so if something like that happens, then I’ll be the one who still treats every kid as he would be the future World Champion. For me all kids are equal and I make no differenc between them. I’m now coaching 7-8 years olds. For 6 years I was coaching kids and kids with disabilites who were treated just like the others. What I wanted to show to those kids was that we, coaches, shouldn’t work with kids to become the best but we must teach them something. This is the most important thing. That’s why I have no problem to coach kids even if he they are not talented. I want to bring them to that point where they can have something out of this sport, even if they quit at age of 16 or 17. But with a coach like I had they would finish shortly after they started because that coach didn’t want to work with such kids. I am glad that I can make both the kids and their parents happy.
I know that without my childhood experiences I would not become the coach I am today. Maybe I wasn’t the best ski jumper but thanks to my history I’m really good with kids. I try to explain things and communicate with them at the same level as they are, using their language. I give them freedom and create a good atmosphere where they feel safe and comfortable. I try to be their friend and coach at the same time and I think it works just fine!

In the third part you’ll be able to read about Gaj Trcek’s flight in Planica and his music passion.