Thankful Thursday: Part II

This week I would like to thank my coaches of present and past for their role in my athletic successes and in my personal growth. Believe it or not, I was a rather rambunctious child who did not sit still in class and couldn't care less about homework or above average academic achievement. All of that really changed when I began running track in the 6th grade. My talent for running was no mystery, as I had perennially out run many of the boys in my elementary school class in the mile run, but at only 11 years of age I had not yet learned to effectively channel my energy. The middle school track coaches quickly recognized my potential and challenged me to reach it by putting me in the fastest heats with the older more experienced runners and I rose to the occasion. I started winning races and setting records, and subsequently discovered my ability to focus and channel my energy to achieve my goals. The following school year I translated my hard work and focus that I had adopted on the track in the classroom and became a dedicated honors student. I am so thankful that the my first track coaches pushed me to discover what I am capable of and instilled in me the value of hard work. 

As a freshman at Hopewell Valley, I joined one of the most talented groups of distance runners in the state of New Jersey. I very easily could have been lost in the mix of things, but Coach Oldfield and Coach Hammill were dedicated to my development as a runner. While it was intimidating to be working out with multiple-time state championship winners and school record-holders, Oldfield gave me confidence that I could hang on with the fast girls. Probably the most important thing that I learned from my high school coaches was that I had the greatest influence over my successes and failures on the track. "You can make your own decision, but your decisions have consequences," Coach Oldfield would always say. 

One of the reasons I decided to attend Duke University was because of Coach Kevin Jermyn. One of my favorite memories of Kevin was after a race in which I had grossly under-performed, when he asked me what kind of boot he should put on to kick me so that I would run fast. My college career did not live up to my expectations, and I am sure Kevin would agree, but he never gave up on me and did his best to keep my chin up and moving forward through all of my injuries. I ended up setting PRs in every race during my last track season. In my final meeting with him and assistant coach Liz Wort, they both looked at me and said, "Emily, you surprised the crap out of us." I am thankful that I was able to do that; it would not have happened had Kevin not maintained his faith in me. 

Then I discovered the sport of triathlon and Breakaway Bikes in Philadelphia. I will still never forget the day I met Coach Todd. He spotted my Duke track shorts and started talking to me about running. I started working with him a few months later and my triathlon career took off. Todd coached me through two successful seasons and I am grateful to have his support and guidance. 

Finally, I partnered with Brian Stover almost a year ago, which turned out to be a very fruitful decision, as I achieved many lofty goals this past season. Under Brian's guidance I took my training to what was uncharted territory for me, that tested my limits, and challenged me physically and mentally. I appreciated Brian's patience as I navigated a more rigorous regimen and more a data focused approach to the sport.