Photo Description: A throwback photo of Coach Mandi Kowal, me, Coach Mark Turner, and Coach Mark Sortino in front of a sign that reads “Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center” from when we all worked together to coach a camp here back in 2017.
Greetings from the United States Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO!! It is Coach Tip Tuesday - here and everywhere!!
This week, as I connect with fellow coaches who I rarely have the opportunity to collaborate in-person with, with athletes who I rarely get to see, and as I observe the genuine and valuable connections that people build with each other when they are in an immersed training environment like this, I want to share this tip: Sport is about the people.
Many endurance sports are solo sports, it’s true. But each and every day, with every bit of work I do, I’m reminded about how there isn’t an athlete out there who reaches their goals solely of their own accord.
Yes, the athlete is the main driving force behind goal-setting and reaching their goals. But athletes wouldn’t be successful without their TEAM around them - their significant others, their friends, their coaches, their training pals, their medical providers, and so many more. How many of you out there cherish your Sunday long runs with friends, your women’s only evening rides, your destination races with friends?? I could go on and on, but I bet each and every one of you out there (yes, even those of you who are mostly “solo athletes” in training and racing) have a memory of a workout or event with someone else that you enjoyed not because you got a KOM on Strava or because you broke a new land speed record, but rather simply because you were doing it alongside that someone else.
Additionally, how many of you have memories emblazoned in your mind of your friends and loved ones cheering you on as you worked toward your goals?? I know that one of my personal most vivid memories in my athletic history is when I was coming into finish my first IRONMAN; I can recall with perfect clarity my dad giving me a high-five as I went toward the finish line, seeing my mom jumping up and down and crying as I crossed the finish line, and my brother and sister-in-law standing nearby with huge grins on their faces as I came into the finisher’s chute. Yes, that moment was special because I achieved my goal of becoming an IRONMAN, but it was also a celebration of genuine happiness in our family that one of us had attained something that meant so much to them, and it meant more to me that they were all there.
This concept doesn’t just apply on the athlete side of the sport equation; it exists in many facets of sport, including coaching. At Team MPI, we embrace this concept so fully that “Team” is in our name. Our focus is on celebrating the individuality of our coaches while working together in a collaborative environment so that TOGETHER we can foster a learning-rich environment so we can help to build others up so they can succeed in reaching any/all goals that they set for themselves. As a result, we are one team - coaches, athletes, and all of our collaborators - working toward the same end goal. Our coaching company isn’t about the “business” side of things; at its heart, it is about the people.
This week, as you move through your workouts and progress through your training, I challenge each and every one of you to reflect on who helped you get to where you are. Make sure to say an extra thank you to your spouse for having dinner on the table when you got back from that hard workout, to your parents for watching your kids so you could get your long run in, or to your friend who paddled in a kayak so you could be safe while open water swimming. Each and every one of you is where you are in sport because of someone else. This week, my tip to you all is not to just acknowledge this, but to celebrate it. :)