Monday, June 04, 2007

Dear Tracy...

"Thank you for your application concerning the Assistant Resident Coach position at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO. Another candidate was chosen for this position based on his experience and skills."

Well, there it is in black and white. Finally--after almost 4 months.

This was a very interesting adventure. I was encouraged to apply by a few key people and so I did, knowing I was a long-shot for these reasons:
  • I barely meet the Senior Coach criteria (athlete production).
  • I do not have any strong connections (BOD members as mentors) to really argue my case.
  • I am a female in a male-dominated sport.
I DO NOT make the last two points not out of any resentment; in the real world we all know it is "who you know" that often makes the difference in getting a job. Outsiders, for whatever reason, aren't often let in to small groups or organizations.

But that's fine. On the other hand, I
  • have tremendous academic background in kinesiology/biomechanics (two master's degrees).
  • have experience coaching (albeit mostly in other sports) young people at the high school and collegiate level.
  • know how to educate an athlete/patient in changing/learning new motor patterns.
  • know how to use the latest technology to review and analyze athletic movement.
  • am passionate about using the technology to help other coaches do what they need to do and I'm pretty damn good at it.
Yes, it would be a progressive leap for some organizations to take in someone who has a very different skill set; one that compliments the current staff and maybe expands their horizons, versus duplicate it. But the job also had elements of contributing to the development of coaching education materials and I thought my skills would really be desired here. Thus, the title of "assistant" and my hopeful interpretation of it. But no go. They wanted the nitty-gritty weightlifting coach-like person. I'm sure this individual will do a great job at the OTC.

Maybe I did not argue my unique case strong enough during the interview. I am not very good at tooting my own horn.

I was advised by several well respected international-level coaches/friends to not bother to apply. Who, with your skills and experience, would want to live in a dorm, eat dorm food, supervise a group of sometimes challenging junior athletes and be paid less than $20,000 a year--all away from your home and spouse? Well, I seriously considered it a chance to contribute to the sport, expand my horizons and learn as much as I could about weightlifting, and try to make a difference for some really talented athletes who are going for it all. Others saw it as indentured servitude with elements of babysitting.

And now finally I can move on. Who knows what opportunities will arise because I did not get the position? There's lots of stuff to do. I've been invited to work with Stephanie Ciarelli at the 17 and under girls camp at the OTC in July. I have worked with several coaches and athlete's from a distance--several '07 PanAm/World Team members/National Champions and one Jr World Team member--and hopefully can continue to give them what they need to improve. I'm meeting with my 16 y.o. newbie tomorrow to continue his training for the summer. And finally, we WILL get my friend El snatching even more so she can kick butt at the Pan Am Masters in July!

Kevin and I have our flights to Beijing next August and have put in our requests for tickets. We'll be there cheering on the Team USA weightlifters who compete, and making it the adventure of a lifetime.

It is my hope that USA Weightlifting does more to mentor and support the few female coaches that are in it. Stephanie Ciarelli is the first woman to be appointed as the women's National Junior Squad Coach (an unpaid position, appointed this year). Anna Martin is currently working with the athletes at Northern Michigan University in the program there. Give these women coaching and learning opportunities; they will not disappoint.


Anonymous said...

Tracy, They would have been lucky to have YOU! Karen F.

Anonymous said...

I know folks who have coached at the international level in other sports. There was definitely an apprenticeship process for them, i.e., they worked in prominent collegiate programs as assistant coaches, then at the jr. international level, then as sr. coaches on the collegiate/national stage, then again on the international stage. I don't think their skill sets changed much, just the length of their coaching CV's.