As an athlete, we sometimes, maybe most times, or perhaps ALL the time, believe that no one else has to make sacrifices like we do. One might say it’s selfish of an athlete to think of themselves only, yet at times, we do teach them to not worry about other things – “Focus on training, leave the rest to me”.
While an athlete, I was aware of the many sacrifices my own coach made. I saw his gracious understanding, his Mahatma Gandhi like patience, his parent-like protection, his selfless sacrifices. I also saw how that was taken advantage of on many occasions, by many students. I always said to myself, I do not want to be a coach, I don’t have that kind of patience and understanding, or tolerance. I am not cut out of that cloth. But here I am today, doing more or less the same – being a coach. Because I have also seen the success of the hours and energy put in. Apart from the success in the ring, I have seen the success on the outside too. The students who became exemplars of discipline and respect, who pulled their lives together, who swear that if it wasn’t for the coach, they would be in a far worse place today.
Being an instructor, assisting in the gym by teaching classes is very different from being a full-time coach. I never fully appreciated that until I had the responsibilities of my own students, my own teams. Coaching is a 36 hour a day job. Yes, 36 hours. You have to think ahead, think previously, and of course think presently. You have to remember what happened, know what’s happening and foresee what is going to happen.
As a coach, you have to create so many worlds. So that each athlete has a world that revolves around them. As the athlete, you see one world, the one that revolves you. In moving from athlete to coach, it’s only then you truly understand what your coach did for you.. and even in some cases, what he or she didn’t do.
Bio: Ria Ramnarine became Trinidad and Tobago’s first female world boxing champion in 2005 and had an illustrious career since, winning several other world titles as well as enjoying the success of other combat sports. She is one of the region’s only female 3-Star AIBA coach and is the founder of Boxing Beyond the Ring, a program that serves to empower particularly women and girls through the sport. Seeking to find the best way to serve her athletes and the sport, Ria also holds a Masters in Sport Organisation Management and in 2017, was named as one of the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame inductees.