Monday, January 23, 2012

Ramblings from a rookie.

I think it's time that I write something about my newest adventure. It may not take me out the country, or even to the other side of the city...but for now I think I'm okay traveling less than a mile to the high school up the street. About two weeks ago I was offered an amazing opportunity, one I thought I had been passed by for months ago, to coach the girls' track and field team at South Miami Senior High School. As a second semester senior at UM the opportunity for a 'real job' took me by immediate surprise. The pay is slightly higher than my current part-time job and the hours are less flexible, but a little less demanding. And of course the job itself comes with many perks and a few greater difficulties.

1. There is no track at South Miami Senior High. Problem? Not really, actually. Luckily for us there is a gigantic football/soccer field that happens to be pretty oval in shape, which makes for a lovely (yet short) impromptu track. Oh, and Tropical Park is only about a mile or two away. Which makes those practices a 2 for 1 deal.

2. There is no budget for uniforms. A few years ago the team fell into some bad luck and had most of their uniforms stolen. So that means what we do have is outdated and won't cover the entire team. Luckily for me though is I spent most of my high school career trying to fundraise for marching band, JV cheerleading, Varsity cheerleading, and even sometimes for track. So I will be using a few of those tricks I have hidden up my sleeves.

3. Age difference. I was mortified to think that some of my new athletes would be barely three years younger than I am. But again, luckily for me, most of my athletes are freshmen or sophomores and the few that are seniors-- have hardly figured out just how close in age we are.

4. Experience. I've never coached a track team before. Sure I know how to put together a running program for myself or another person, but I've never truly run a track program from start to finish while trying to accommodate at least ten people. But here's where my somewhat-annoying habit of keeping everything falls into place. Not only did I write down the majority of my running workouts from high school track, but I also wrote down the majority of my lifting, running, and jumping workouts from UM. Can you say, cha-ching? 'Cause I just did. So far the pre-season workouts have been a breeze. The real task will come when I get all the basketball girls around February. But by then I should have found my stride.

So now my desk has three piles of scattered yet organized stuff. Schoolwork, baking, and track magazines. And I guess you can count the looming stack of bills as a separate, not-so-exciting, pile. Twenty-one years old and getting a taste of Part I of three dream jobs. And did I mention the pay was pretty sweet? Too bad I don't get it until the end of the season...I guess that just makes it an extra sweet graduation gift.

Enough about me and how excited I am to mold this young bunch of athletes. I want to talk about my kids now. Sorry, my young ladies and gentlemen as Coach Reinisch used to call us. I've taken a lot of his advice over the years and am trying to model his coaching style when it comes to handling the athletes...though I would hope I have a better time communicating with the ladies about their lady-questions. No offense if you're reading this, Coach!

Every team is made up of the following types of athletes: the good ones, the newbies, the attitudes, and the question marks. The good ones pay attention, try their hardest and never say never. The newbies are just as excited to be out here, but have little to no experience in what we're doing. Sometimes they can be even better than the good ones with a little time and a little more patience. The attitudes are the ones that could be great, but refuse to accept it. There are constant scowls, the 'I don't wanna do this' face, and an overall look of disgust when the coach speaks. The question marks are the ones that come in with no experience, very little obvious interest in track, yet they are the ones who probably try the hardest at every single task placed in front of them.

I will be upfront and say that I will not be using names, unless it comes to their successes at track meets. I will not allude details to any individual athlete of mine, and I will not degrade their hard work. I will however, attempt to use their successes and failures to contemplate my coaching styles, approach to practice, and overall personal attitude.

So far the practices have consisted of a lot of learning. For both them and myself. New warm-up, new drills, new way of running. New lifts, new stretches, new core work. Some of the kids have never heard of the things I throw at them, but they do it anyway. And some of the things they tell me about past practices I have never heard of. So we meet somewhere in the middle, with my say getting just a little bit more pull than theirs.

The season officially starts on Tuesday, with a thirty-minute study hall period before practice commences. I've been trying to come up with a few goals for the season, aside from making it through the entire season and not having the entire team quit on me...Maybe by Tuesday I'll have something a little more optimistic.

For now, as long as I reach them in some positive way and maybe get them a few PRs, I'll be happy.

From my running shoes to yours,
Coach Phipps

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