Last week I started coaching at Peak To Peak High School in Lafayette, Colorado. I’m the head track coach of a team of over 50 high school girls and guys. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on all of the track events to try to become the best coach I can be for the jumpers, hurdlers, and sprinters. I’ve also been spending a significant amount of time thinking about my high school coach, team, and training. How did that translate to running well in college? How did my college coach, team, and training prepare me to become an Olympic Trials Qualifier in the marathon? There are not simple answers to these questions, but I’ve been surrounded by great coaching and an “atmosphere of champions” that has fostered my individual development both as an athlete and as a human being. In fact, my high school coach and I have become great friends and she’s always been a mentor for me.
This morning on twitter I saw a tweet from @JessRiden about an interview with my college coach Beth Alford-Sullivan. This was by far the best written interview I’ve ever read with a coach. She hits so many great points during this interview. For example, Coach Sullivan was asked, “What is your philosophy as a coach?” She answers with a great paragraph that concludes with, “to provide an atmosphere of champions. If we’re producing the opportunity for a young person to be on a team and on our roster, we want to give them an environment where they feel challenged but respected, where they feel that they can achieve their goals and be rewarded for them if they work hard, and to learn how to manage themselves in those types of atmospheres.” Please read the entire interview here – http://www.accessathletes.com/blog/blogdisplay.cfm?/Interview-with-a-Sports-Professional-Big-Ten-Triple-Crown-Champion-Coach-and-Penn-State-Track–FieldCross-Country-Director-Beth-AlfordSullivan-716
I’m about a year out of college and almost six years out of high school now. The other day someone made the comment to me, “how are you always so positive?” First – I’ve been lucky enough to have the best, most supportive, and fun family. I’m also fortunate enough to have really supportive friends. Friends and family aside, my high school coach and college coach have definitely had the biggest impact on my life. Coach Sullivan and my high school coach Megan are two of the most positive people I’ve ever met. I’m really glad I’m a high school coach and able to work with over 50 teenagers to help them become better athletes, but more importantly happier and healthier young adults. My message in this blog post is simple: if you’re a coach, are you prioritizing the development of your athlete as an individual over the development of their fitness? Are you making them more positive people who want to give back to the community and their sport? If you’re not a coach, are you doing all you can to help others in your workplace, on your athletic team, or in your neighborhood? As Coach Sullivan mentions, create an atmosphere of champions for both yourself and your athletes!