I believe that life is a series of callings. Although my faith is deeply personal and generally manifests itself outside of church walls, my relationship with God leads me on the journey. I followed my heart when I became involved in work to improve animal welfare for cattle and this same desire for positive change led me to coaching youth athletics. Likely the only two things that these topics share in common is my passion to make a positive difference.
I had a brief foray into coaching immediately after graduating from college and moving to Nebraska. I served in the volunteer role of assistant coach to the high school Cross Country team in the late 1990’s prior to the birth of my favorite brunette. A busy life running a cattle feed yard and raising a young family took me away from coaching for about a decade, but life has a way of placing a person in the right place at the right time.
I had a wake up call the year that I turned 30 as I lost my health due to an autoimmune system disease. The following five years provided a personal battle that reminded me how precious a gift each day truly is. God has a way of putting life into perspective and, as I worked to regain my health, I found myself inspired to coach again — this time at the swimming pool. Seven years later, with the help of the same awesome lady who guided me in my first foray of Haymaker XC coaching, our local community has a thriving recreational swim team where fitness and fun combine to teach life skills to almost 50 budding athletes.
This fall I took on an additional volunteer coaching gig — coming full circle back to the Haymaker Cross Country team. Ironically, my favorite brunette is now a member of the team which makes me smile as I was eight months pregnant when I hung up my XC coaching hat the first time. I am back on the Haymaker roster as an assistant which allows me to mentor just under thirty junior high and high school athletes on their quest for greatness.
Coaching refills my cup — it touches my heart as I see God in the young people that I get to mentor.
There is something so truly special in playing a leadership role in an athlete’s journey. You learn to coach the athlete in the moment that they need you — filling each unique void — giving direction while also inspiring good independent decision making. Athletics teach toughness, work ethic, empathy, and personal sacrifice. They are about developing fitness: mental, emotional, and physical in order to work toward a common goal. There is nothing more rewarding than watching a culture of greatness develop amongst teammates.
The Haymaker Cross Country team personifies all of these things, and I am truly blessed to be a part of it. Like many coaches, I don’t coach for the win. I coach for the athlete — focusing on developing personal life skills that create leaders. The development of this positive culture brings the win, and it is so much sweeter when the athletes lead the way.
The calling of a coach is a special one. It comes from a quest to use your talents to make a difference in the lives of the young people who will create the future. When I see the athletes dig deep to persevere during competition or unselfishly reach out to teammates in need, I know that God is at work and my heart fills with optimism for all of those times yet to come.