Nicole is one very busy track and field coach! Based in Illinois, USA, Nicole set up her own track & field club after wanting to coach her own children nearer to home. An athlete herself, Nicole prides her club on developing athletes in every area of T&F and is working hard at expanding the programme. The FCN chatted with Nicole about her experience as a female coach.
“When we are at meets, it’s not about me being a female coach, it’s about my athletes meeting their goals. I always tell my athletes ‘I couldn’t care less if you get on the podium, what I care about is did you break your personal record this week? We worked hard during the week on focussing on different things so we can better ourselves when it comes to competition. Did that happen?’ So for my athletes, getting a gold medal or getting a place, or qualifying for the Junior Olympics or Qualifying for the USA T&F Championships, isn’t as sweet as ‘I met my personal goal and broke it and now I am ready to continue on.’ That’s what I thrive on and that’s the biggest success.
As a woman, when I’m out there with the coaches and I am standing in the Circle for the coaches meeting, I get a lot of eyeballs! A lot of guys look and think ‘is she the assistant coach?’ and I just say ‘No! I am the Head Coach and the Founder of the organisation. And…you better watch out!’
I won a lot of bets; a lot of male coaches think that their athletes are faster and stronger than my athletes, if they have never encountered us before. I know what kind of programme I put together, what kind of discipline is needed and the athletes always deliver. I just smile and say ‘I am the Head Coach of Illinois track club and founder and President, nice to meet you’, and they just laugh because they underestimate me because I am a female. So my advice to women is don’t focus on whether you are accepted or not, focus on what you’re doing as a female coach to get your athletes ready to be at their optimum performance and things will fall into place. You will be respected whether your on top of the game and you will not be respected if you’re on top of the game, it doesn’t matter!
I’m an educator, so I teach 7th grade and my philosophy is ‘if you feel that as a woman, I am able to teach your son in class, then as a woman, I should be able to coach your son on the track’. If you feel I am able to educate in math, reading, language, arts etc, if you say that we are able to teach men, then we should be able to coach our men and that’s a philosophy that I go in with as a female coach. I am here to help all athletes, regardless of race, nationality, gender, sexual preferences, I am here to help you reach your optimal performance, so are you ready to take the journey with me? Parents may be ready, but are you the athlete ready to take this journey? And when that athlete commits there’s no turning back.”