At the conclusion of every season I like to reflect on what worked, what didn't, and how can things
change going forward. It is during this time that you need to consider the role of a coach and the role of the athlete. To me a coach's main job is to guide and steer the ship. There can be calm seas or at times the seas can be very rough, yet it is my job to keep the ship moving forward towards our destination and not get shipwrecked. I certainly have had those seasons that seemed to get blown off course, which is when the blame game starts. We see this happening right now with the Philadelphia Eagles. When you don't get the "W" everyone wants to set blame somewhere and fair weathered fans often want heads to roll. Yet when the sails are at full mast and everything is running smoothly, it is very easy to just go with the flow. As Coach Chambers used to tell us often "Go with the flow, Jarhead, not with the flush". So, if the coach is the captain of the ship, who are the athletes?
The ship! Not all ships are the same. They range from luxury yachts to ships that are not even sail worthy. The Pilgrims tried three times to cross the Atlantic. They were traveling on the Speedwell and the Mayflower. After departing the Netherlands headed towards England, the Speedwell was taking on water. After spending a week fixing the leaks, the two sips set sail. 300 miles out to sea the Speedwell was still taking on water. They returned to England and decided to make the trip in just the Mayflower. Some were frustrated and discouraged and quit deciding to stay in England. Yet still some pressed on. You often see that in a team. You have those willing to go the extra mile and stay the course to those that get discouraged or lack commitment and quit. You even still have those individuals that feel shipwrecked, run aground, or like they never set sail. You should walk away from a season knowing this. It is all about the learning process. Not only learning how to be a better athlete, but more importantly how to be a better person. That is the true gem of athletics and more specifically distance running. It prepares you for life. The struggles you endure through athletics will better prepare you for all that life may throw at you.
This past season has been one in the making over the past four years. This graduating senior class has moved this program significantly in the right direction. They have, in a sense, righted the ship. The amount of dedication and drive at all levels far outweighed those individuals that were just participating rather than contributing. We had a very successful season and although things did not end the way that we would have liked at States, we hold our heads high knowing that we made some noise this year not only in SJ but also in the state. 107 teams competed this past Saturday at States and in the combined results the girls finished 19th over all.
For some the season is not over. Kate Rathman gets to compete at the Meet of Champions this Saturday and then the following Saturday a handful of girls from the team will be competing at the Footlocker Northeast Regional Qualifier. Others have already started their return to training as they now get ready for the middle stage of the year. It is with a proud smile that I look out at practice today seeing girls that don't need to be out at practice, that are sticking to what they know best. Hard work.
I am not afraid of storms for I am learning to sail my ship ~ Louisa May Alcott