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Intangibles, Immeasurables, and Other Coaching Cliches

It is just minutes before the start. I have the same butterflies I always do. I breathe deep. All the work is done, there is nothing left to do but run the race. Except I wasn’t the one racing this time. I was just there to watch a Rock Star perform! And perform she did, beyond any of my wildest expectations! It was truly a pleasure to be a part of!!

How to Meet a Rock Star

I came by the opportunity to coach the Rock Star purely organically. Her and I happened to be working out on the same track at the same time. She was in between her school season and the state meet and needed a coach. It was one of those inexplicable coincidences that someone would put in an inspiring sports movie, but it was true and it was the making of a great partnership!

Intangibles, Immeasurables, Cliches

From the first time I saw the kid run, I could see that she was talented. But that wasn’t the most impressive thing about her. She was hungry, she was tough, she was smart, she was eager to learn. I can teach strategy, I can sharpen speed, and I can tweak form but I cannot ever show someone how to be the type of athlete this kid is! She has all the stuff an athlete needs to succeed, including talent.  On or off the track she is and will continue to be a total Rock Star!

Meet Day

Okay enough back story let’s get back to the meat and potatoes. The kid was running in the FLYRA Middle School State Championships and after all her work it was finally time for the pay off. She was competing in the 1500 and the 800. She was seeded in the top half in both events but we had a good feeling about a couple of top 10 finishes.

1500- The first event up was the 1500. The goal was to run under 5:15 (her previous best was 5:17) and a top 8 medal would be nice too. The good news was she was in the first heat, the fast heat, so we would know almost immediately where she placed. The gun sounded and they were off. She positioned herself well and was running strong. She came through the first 300 in around 57 seconds. That was a little faster than our original plan but she looked strong. The next three laps were a blur but they averaged out to 1:22 per lap, which was right on the pace we were looking for. She finished in 5:05:36. A twelve second PR and an unbelievable race. Oh yeah, and she finished eighth, good enough for a medal! You can watch the video here.

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Pre-race swagger!^^^^^

800- By the 800 meter run, what I thought was her premier event, it had turned real hot. There was also a bit of a head wind in the back stretch. I was getting a little worried because the usually stoic young lady now looked spent, and tired. Not to mention she would be running in the second heat, and I really felt she would have to win the heat going away, to have a chance at a top 10 finish. The goal was 2:30 for this race, and we had no idea where that would place us. 2:22 won the first heat. I was getting nervous, but standing with the Rock Star I started getting the feeling that I was the only one. Again, the gun went off to start the race. In the back stretch going into the wind, she was all by herself.

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She was staying in contact with the top 5, but it didn’t seem to me like her legs were responding. After the first lap, the leader of the heat opened up about a 15 meter lead heading into the final turn. Then something crazy happened. The girl I thought was toast, was just running patient, doing exactly what she had been coached to do. With 220 meters to go she kicked it in and caught everyone from behind, taking the lead in the home stretch. She won her heat with a 2:31, and wouldn’t you know it another top 8 finish, 7th to be exact! The video is amazing! Two races, two medals, two new PRs!

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I was once told by an old coach that coaching kids was exactly like raising them. You encourage them, you challenge them, you tell them you’re proud of them and most of all you love them. I am blessed that I ran into the Rock Star that day at the track. The added joy her and her family have brought to my life are immeasurable. I am looking forward to working with them in the future! And that is how I met a Rock Star!!

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All photos courtesy of Digiboh Design and Photography

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