Current Position: High School English Teacher & Cross Country Coach
Past Positions: Volunteer Assistant at Georgia Tech
Education: BA in English Education from Ole Miss
Athletic: A four-year letter winner & scholar-athlete at Old Miss. Competed in the SEC Championships in Cross Country and Outdoor Track. Contributed to the Ole Miss Women’s first-ever appearance at the NCAA XC National Championships. College PR’s include: 4:58 Mile, 9:53, 17:24, and 21:36.
1. How did you know you wanted to get into coaching?
The desire to get into coaching really crystallized in high school. Running had been a constant passion & comfort since I was 8, & the thought of spending each day promoting it & helping others achieve goals & realize potential through it just made sense.
Running is a special sport in the sense that it’s not about instant gratification- it’s a crazy, frustrating process. You can see a transformation in people on a few different levels & it’s very psychological.
Plus, I always had a love of reading & English, so coaching & teaching seemed like the perfect cocktail of a career. I decided to focus solely on collegiate coaching first, mainly because I adored the intensity & traveling that came along with NCAA athletics.
2. How did you get connected with your first coaching gig?
My first coaching gig was basically luck saying “alright, I’ll be on your side today.” I was at a Vanderbilt indoor meet during my Senior year for Ole Miss. I’d been trying to secure a volunteer position for the upcoming year for a few months, many prospects were very small schools or large schools that were slow about getting back to me.
I saw my teammate & good friend go over & give the Georgia Tech coach a hug. Me being eager & nosy, I asked my teammate to introduce us. We got connected &, over the course of a few weeks, discussed details, I visited Atlanta, & we sealed the deal. I’ll always remember that day as being an extremely lucky twist of fate & I’m sure glad I was being observant that day instead of staring down at my phone.
3. What was it like to be a volunteer assistant at an NCAA D1 program?
My position at Georgia Tech was, at first, me following Alan Drosky around like a puppy. I went where he went, did what he did, & sat in his office, either looking over whatever he was doing or reading his many books on sports physiology & psychology.
Then, I began practicing some of the pacing formulas & training plan development that he’d shown me. I started an Instagram page for the team. I managed & made videos for the account & it got attention from recruits we were interested in. That was the office stuff.
Eventually, you get to do much more, like recruiting visits, coaching the athletes alone, etc. You’re mainly just there to learn & help with whatever you can. Then, of course, there was practice in Atlanta- where you’re running around in the morning at Piedmont Park trying to get all of the cones & lights in order before the team arrives & then you’re taking splits & yelling at people- that was always the best part!
The traveling was both amazing & intense, although, with a three-season sport, it seems to never end. You get to travel all around with these kids you see everyday, watch them work their tails off, & go through all sorts of weird travel experiences with them. There’s something about watching the athletes do the same motion in different settings & circumstances that shows you what they’re made of.
While a volunteer coach, I was broke, working other odd-jobs to pay rent, unsure of the future, & lonely when away from work. There were a few moments where I’d be sitting in my crappy room, eating a beef jerky stick for dinner, thinking “What are you doing?” Simultaneously, I was happy & believed in what I was aiming for. It was an adventure.
4. What is one piece of advice you’d give to aspiring coaches?
The advice I’d give aspiring coaches is go all-in.
If you want to coach at any level, I’d recommend learning as much as possible. I think reading up on nutrition, physiology, sports psychology, & runners autobiographies is one of the best things we can do for ourselves & our athletes.
If you want to get into collegiate coaching, go to a program & spend your time there as if it’s a full-time job, even though it doesn’t pay. You need to accept how much time & travel goes into the collegiate level- there’s little time for much else. Collegiate coaching requires a lot of tactics & administrative duties.
If you pay attention to your boss, go to conventions, & talk to as many people as you can, the odds are you’ll eventually find a job. It’s just the best way to get your foot in the door & it’s an incredible experience if you don’t mind getting by with little money temporarily.
High school requires more of an understanding of personality. You have to manage a variety of ages & talent level. I think being smart & practical is mandatory for either.
Above all, understand steady progression is key to healthy & successful runners & have a passion for running.