Watch Michelle Obama’s wonderful speech – it is time to stand up for women and girls.
Watch Michelle Obama’s wonderful speech – it is time to stand up for women and girls.
This is a tough post for me because it is about an emotionally charged topic. The recent allegations of hideous hazing incidents at Conestoga High School have really hit close to home. As a parent, I feel sick to my stomach that incidents like this occur and that every day we continue to see examples of how vulnerable our children are in today’s society – vulnerable to egregious behavior on the part of their peers (often other minors), strangers, and adults in their lives – and yes, coaches.
But are coaches always at fault when athletes behave badly? While again, I am sickened by the alleged incidents at Conestoga, I am also keenly aware of this particular coach’s character. I know John Vogan because I coached for more than 10 years at Conestoga High School. As a rowing coach, I often crossed paths with Coach Vogan during winter land training and I know him to be a man filled with care and concern for every one of his athletes. An article written about Coach Vogan a few years ago, describes the coach I know.
The thing is, as the general public, we are angered that there was no locker room supervision. I get that, but as a coach, I know I would rarely enter the locker room and now more than ever, coaches have to be very careful about being in a locker room with minors. It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation for coaches.
In my third post of this blog over a year ago on October 18, 2011, I wrote about Work/Life balance, questioning and fearing my own career path as a coach and aspiring mom. About one year later, on October 16, 2012, I went from aspiring mom to expecting mom! I am due in June of this year and thought it would be appropriate to revisit my old post to assess how far I’ve come.The timing of this post is also appropriate since today is the last day of my 20s! I will thus be starting a new chapter tomorrow as I turn 30!
While I still question how it’s all going to work, I am not as fearful. I am much more immersed in my position as assistant coach and feel a lot more confident all around. Of course my schedule is challenging and I can’t stop thinking about how everything will change come June, but I am more confident than I was a year ago now that I am actually pregnant. I don’t have a choice, do I? The baby is coming no matter what!
In my post a year ago, I asked women for advice on how they manage their career and home life. While I didn’t receive any responses, I did hear from another source some very good advice that I’d like to share here: Just because you’re having a baby doesn’t mean your entire life has to flip upside down. You will find ways to incorporate your child into your routine.
Hopefully this will be true for me!
One of the very first things I learned as a coach was to cater a training plan to a specific athlete. For example, it wouldn’t make sense to use Allyson Felix’s workout regimen for my sprinter athletes. However, while Olympic athletes are more likely to train differently than Division III athletes, there are some specific tools that we can take directly from them.
In the New York Times Well Blog this week, Gina Kolata speaks to several star athletes to ask them what “vaults them from the middle of the pack to the podium.” Read along…I think you’ll find some useful strategies that translate easily to any athlete:
1.”STAY FOCUSED” – Natalie Coughlin (Olympic medalist in swimming) said that she used to daydream while swimming laps at practice. It wasn’t until she changed her thoughts to her technique that she actually saw improvement. Using my sport as an example, I used to get lost in my thoughts a lot while out for a run (and still do!) However, ever since I became a coach, I now think more about my form – where are my arms? how are my feet hitting the ground? are my hips under me? Not only has this helped my running overall, but I also think it has lessened my chances of injury.
2. “MANAGE YOUR ‘ENERGY PIE'” – “Energy pie? All the things that take time and energy — a job, hobbies, family, friends, and of course athletic training.” Steve Spence, a self-coached distance runner who competed in the marathon in the 1992 Olympics and now coaches at Shippensburg University, said “There is only so much room in the pie.” If your athletes are anything like mine, then this one might pose some challenges! I probably spend more of my time coaching athletes on time management than on our sport! However, it is time well spent and pertinent to those who juggle a demanding academic environment, a varsity sport, a job, etc. My mom once told me that “the stick doesn’t burn at both ends.” It is nearly impossible to put 100% effort into everything you want to do. Prioritize and focus on what’s most important.
3. “STRUCTURE YOUR TRAINING” – Meredith Kessler began racing Ironman triathlons at the same time “she was working 60 hours a week at a San Francisco investment bank and trying to spend time with her husband and friends.” While she eventually decided to quit her job to focus on training, some tactics she utilized while still at work included the structuring of her training, namely learning when it was appropriate to train endurance versus speed. Every workout should have a purpose (and one that you can explain to your athletes)!
4. “TAKE RISKS” – Helen Goodroad’s childhood dream was to become an Olympic figure skater. Then she grew to be 5’11”. “One day, when Helen was 17, a coach asked her to try a workout on an ergometer, a rowing machine. She was a natural — her power was phenomenal.” To make a long story short, Helen ended up taking a risk by leaving her figure skating dream behind. In return, she was recruited as a rower at Brown, was invited to train with the junior national team, and won a world championship with the under-23 national team. She spoke about “leaving her comfort zone” which my high school coach used to tell us all of the time and is something I will never forget (he even had a poster with his own depiction of breaking down “walls”).
5. “THE OTHER GUY IS HURTING TOO” – Brian Sell raced the half marathon at the US championship in 2006. With two miles to go, there were two other runners by his side. His realization was: “Those other guys must be hurting as much as he was, or else they would not be staying with him — they would be pulling away.” So he made up his mind to stay with them no matter what. He won by 15 seconds (and went on to race the Olympic marathon in Beijing in 2008). This strategy works! I am a firm believer that a good chunk of one’s performance comes from the mind and heart, the two parts of one’s body that still fight even after everything else has given up. I can attest to this when I ran my 5K PR (personal record) last year. I had nothing left in my legs, and while it would have been much easier to stay at that pace where I felt comfortable, that’s not how races are won (or PRs are broken). I had to step out of my comfort zone.
Kolata, G. (2013, January 14). Training Insights from Star Athletes. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/14/training-insights-from-star-athletes/?emc=eta1
We are now nearing the end of the fall semester, campus is quiet, the office is still, and the holidays are right around the corner. Our team has left campus, excited to be done with finals and to spend time with their families.
It is now our job to walk that fine line of giving them their time to relax and recharge while at the same time motivating them to work out, take care of themselves, and prepare for the spring season.
Why is motivation important? Here are a few points that are apparent in both the athletic and business realms (great website: www.managementstudyguide.com):
1) Motivation will help improve the level of efficiency.
2) Motivation will help lead to achieving team and personal goals.
3) Motivation enhances the relationship with others.
4) Motivation leads to a stable environment where coaches and players are on the same page and working hard towards positive team and individual results.
So now for the how. Here are a few things that as a coach you can implement or take on to help with building motivation in your players.
Motivation may just be the missing link to your program!
Nicole Moore Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach Stetson University
As I read through my daily headlines this afternoon, I came across an article entitled “Sharing the Pain of Women in Medicine” and was inspired to write about it today. The author describes her doctor friend who “got tired of being a woman in medicine.” She, more often than her male counterparts, was asked to work on more holidays, sit in on administrative meetings, and other things that kept her away from advancing in her career. When she raised these concerns to her chairman, “he listened – but never responded to her repeated requests for a raise or more support.”
This sounds awfully familiar…I wrote about similar events in “The Women’s Side of the Glass Wall.”
In 2000, a survey put out by Annals of Internal Medicine found that gender bias was widespread among medical institutions. “More than half of the women professors surveyed reported being discriminated against or sexually harassed,” women faculty made less money, were promoted more slowly, and fared worse in peer-review. A more recent study that focused on the emotional well-being of its survey takers showed that men were just as likely as women to feel ignored, discriminated against, and unsupported by their institution. As a result of these findings, some institutions have begun to offer mentoring programs aimed to develop leadership skills and to create a collaborative environment of trust. “While it remains to be seen whether these changes will endure, it has become clearer that men, as well as women, stand to benefit from any improvement.” Here’s to hoping!
Chen, P. (2012, November 29). Sharing the Pain of Women in Medicine. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/29/sharing-the-pain-of-women-in-medicine/?ref=healthupdate&nl=health&emc=edit_hh_20121204