I started coaching track in 1998 in Florida when I was asked by my Middle School Principal, who was my Athletic Director in high school, to help start a girls track team...it was completely happenstance. My love for the sport just evolved over the years after I became the Head Track Coach at Mt. Carmel, then at Newman. I began coaching Cross Country when the late, great Randy Zell asked if I would join him once the then Girls Head Coach left.
Q. How many years have you coached?
I'm in my 25th year as a track coach and just finished my 13th season in Cross Country.
Q. What teams/age groups do you coach?
I coach both the Middle School and Varsity Track team, and the Varsity Cross Country team.
Q. What is your xc coaching philosophy?
I think my Cross Country philosophy is like many other coaches; Build a solid summer running program that carries into the fall, then try to get as many runners competing in track as possible (almost all of our kids run both indoor and outdoor track). But more than anything else, we aim to provide the Newman student-athlete with the opportunity to develop physically, mentally and socially in a challenging, positive, supportive and inclusive environment .
Q. Does it carry over into any other sports you might coach?
I 100 percent believe that our team's success over the years has more to do with team culture and the feeling that everyone has a place to belong and thrive, regardless of skill level, than any training plan we may put together.
What is your general season goal? All that being said, we want to win! Our Cross Country goals (now that we have made the switch to divisions) is to finish top two in our Region, then in the top three at State. In track, our goals are to win District, place in the top two at Regionals, and in the top five at State.
Q. Do you have a key workout you use throughout the season?
In Cross Country, when the time is right, I love Combined Zone workouts. They're not only physically preparing them to run the best at the end of the season, but it takes a lot of focus and mental toughness as well...which can certainly be tougher to train than the physical.
During the track season, I use a split 400 workout with our ¼ milers (again, at the appropriate time in the season) as an indicator for what they are capable of. It typically consists of a 300 at goal pace, 45 second to a minute rest, then a 100.
Q. How do you handle injury?
I am fortunate to have any amazing athletic training staff at Newman. Anytime there is an injury with one of our athletes, all three parties are in constant communication with rehab, return to practice protocols, etc.
Humor is a great tool in helping a young athlete who may be having some anxiety issues. Sometimes just getting a kid to smile makes all the difference in the world. I also think we as coaches need to be as positive and encouraging to these young folks as possible and getting them to truly believe in themselves and what they're capable of accomplishing.
We don't really deal with this too much. The kids in our programs are invested, dedicated and committed. They realize this is too hard not to be all in.
Q. How do you see athletics integrated with academics?
Newman students are very curious, and because it is such a rigorous school academically, we try to feed our kids with as much knowledge and information as possible. They want to know the how's and why's of training, so actually have meetings to explain everything that goes into a yearly training plan.
Q. What is the most important skill or value you try to impart to your team?
So, our program philosophy reads..."Our sport is our passion, and the desire to improve and compete is our strength. We set our sights on being the best we can be without limitations. Using our physical talents and mental preparation, we have the potential to accomplish all of our goals. We are mentally disciplined and physically strong. We are determined, self-motivated and dedicated to improving ourselves, our team and our sport."
This is on a 4'x6' sign in our meeting area so that our kids can see this and read it every single day. If they truly believe in these words, I feel as though we've won as coaches, leaders and mentors.