Someday I hope to be a coach. I’m going for my certification in Secondary Education, and I think that coaching a high school team would be a great addition to my experience as a runner (in addition to my own future training, of course). I’ve been lucky enough to have some great coaches in the past, who really made a difference in who I am as an athlete.
On the other hand, I have a head coach right now who represents just about everything that I do not want to be if I ever lead a group of runners. For now, let’s call him Coach W.
Coach W., who has a long history of dastardly deeds against the distance squad, was in the mood to further aggrieve us yesterday. When I returned from my run, I found out that there was a list of people who wouldn’t be competing in this weekend’s meet. It mainly consisted of the slow distance runners. At the top of the list was my name.
I would usually be fine with this. As a slower runner, there are a lot of meets for which I do not qualify. But this meet has no time requirements. It doesn’t have any extra costs associated with entering extra people. And we have plenty of space on the bus, which will be taking us to a school that’s almost next door.
The distance squad met with Coach W. to ask for his reasons in excluding our slower members. He quickly confirmed for us what we already knew: that he was trying to prevent the embarassment we provide. He wanted to look like he trained only elite athletes in a Division 3 school.
Now, I understand how important reputation is to a coach. After all, Coach W.’s employers frown upon losing seasons. What infuriates me about his actions is that in order to look like a good coach, he’s willing to be a bad one.
After all, I think that what makes a coach great is the improvement that he can coax out of his athletes. It is not how fast his team is at the end of the season. After all, should a coach get credit for the talent of his athletes, which pre-exists his leadership?
I will never understand Coach W.’s views on coaching, and on running in general (as you will probably see throughout the year). The only gratitude I will ever have toward him is for showing me exactly what I never want to be when I myself am coach.
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