This is a purely historical blog from me this time. I had a moment a few weeks back when I was teaching a Level 1 coaching qualification in the North of England. One of the would be coaches mentioned that they were nervous of learning to be a coach as they had never played the game – I think I put their mind at rest when I revealed that I have never played the game either. And there was me stood at the front teaching these guys to be American football coaches.
Why have I never played? Well, put bluntly I can’t. Well I probably could if I tried, but I have a hole in the right side of my skull. This was put there when I had my brain surgery in December 2012. Here am I teaching coaches about the dangers of concussion and head injury and I am the one who has never played and has the now sub standard skull!
In March 2008, I was diagnosed with a rare condition called Trigeminal Neuralgia. TN is a nerve condition that causes the nerves of the face to become hyperactive, causing extreme pain in one side of the face – constantly. TN is ‘affectionately known as the ‘Suicide Disease’ due to the high number of sufferers who take their own life due to the condition. It is treated with many drugs known as nerve blockers – delightful little tablets of absolute brain fog. At my worst in 2011 I was taking 41 pills per day to try and combat the pain. There is no cure, but the MVD operation can put the illness into remission for years at a time.
During this time I had taken my first steps into football coaching, and I remember the conversation with my doctor when I told him. He sat the other side of the desk and smiled sweetly, his words were “I think you need to reconsider your choices, as you will be able to do very little with this illness”. My thoughts then? ‘Yeah Right, watch me’. I succumbed to the medication for 6 months before my operation, I was so ‘drugged’ most days that I couldn’t move myself from the couch. But the news that I was getting the operation came and I started re-evaluating my position.
Three months post op, and I was back on the football field, two months after that and I was Special Teams Co-Ordinator. It’s amazing what being told that you can’t do something will do. Fast forward four years, and I have three of the most amazing roles that anyone could ask for. I am the very very proud Head Coach of a University team – and I am not ashamed to say that my guys are basically my extended family, I am Director of Education for British American Football, and I am a very proud Coordinator for the FCN. I am thankful for it all.
So what did I learn in the last 8 years? I have learnt that for one nothing is impossible. Nothing can stop you when you have the determination and drive to push forward for what you want. Nothing can extinguish the passion for coaching (I was previously a swim coach), and football just seems to get into your blood and become part of your DNA. I never saw anything that I was going through as a problem or a shut door – I saw it as a hurdle, and with hurdles if you can’t jump them you can always go around them! I learnt that who I was is what people saw, not what I actually was – and that included being a female coach in a male team.
What am I saying here? I am saying that do not let anything get you down, the throw away comments, the fact that the kids played up before you left for training, the fact that the ‘time of the month’ has got you ratty this week! Keep moving forward and if we go the diverted route rather than the direct one, so be it. Think about that Journey song – Don’t stop believing, because one day one player will say they made that tackle or touchdown because you believed in them.
FCN American Football Co-ordinator:
Sarah Jauncey is an American Football Coach from the UK and wear many hats within the sport. She is a Coach Developer for BAFA, Board Member of BAFCA, a Coach Educator and the only female coach in the GB Lions set up.
To find out more about Sarah, read our exclusive interview with her HERE
Sarah’s role with the FCN is to lead the creation of a Global network of female American Football coaches. To contact Sarah please email: firstname.lastname@example.org