England Athletics are working with local women in local clubs to tell you how they become involved in coaching, what support was given, how they juggle family commitments, and work life. Become inspired by reading the coaches' stories below.
Lis Harris - Athletics Coach
I competed in athletics at school but a significant injury stopped me from competing. I was re-introduced into athletics when I took my two children down to the club, I am not the kind of drop and run so I started helping when I was needed…it took me back to my athletic days! I am now part of a small team that coaches running, jumping and throwing skills to about 100 young athletes. It great to see the improvement in individuals and seeing the enjoyment they get is fantastic.
Rita Norry - Athletics Coach and NCDP Youth Development
I became a coaching assistant in January 2011 and coach the U11s supported by the 365 programme. I originally started as a race for life runner, and my daughter was at that time a member of the Norfolk County Cross Country team. I wanted to pass on my love of the sport and all the resulting health benefits to the next generation, not to leave it so late in life to be as physically active, as I had done. I received so much support from all the coaches at my club, which has enabled me to complete my coaching Journey thus far. The valuable experiences I have learnt from coaching is the 'I can do attitude’ and that setting a personal goal can be achieved.
Kate Macpherson - Endurance Coach
Elvet Striders RC & Durham Mums on the Run
Kate says: I’m currently the coaching coordinator at my club, plus I coach athletes on a one-to-one basis and lead the ‘Durham Mums on the Run’ group. I avoided sport at school (particularly cross country!) but I discovered running in my 20s and it become an obsession! Training as a coach has changed my life; I’ve gone from being a rather bored office worker to spending my time doing what I absolutely love. I say - get out there and ask questions, don’t be afraid to have a go at leading, shadow coaches you know and believe that as a female coach you will bring vital qualities (such as empathy and multi tasking) to the role.
Ruth Worthington - Athletics Coach
Bury Athletics Club
Ruth says: My daughter showed an interest in athletics when she turned 8, I would take her down to our local track and sit in the car reading a book whilst she trained. In the run up to the London Olympics the club was becoming busier and the U11 coach asked for some help from parents, I wasn't sure what I could do but I stepped forward. I have learnt that if those around me are given responsibility and are valued it makes it much easier. It’s really empowering as a woman to get involved in athletics and coaching, there's loads of help and support out there and it really does make you feel good about yourself.
Joanne Hunt - Athletics Coach
Braintree & District AC
Joanne says: I qualified as an athletics coach for Braintree District & Athletics Club in 2012. The events I coach are long jump and shot put for Under 13s and Under 15s. I got involved in coaching through my daughter who competes at the club. Coaching has given me valuable experience in explaining to the athletes why we warm up, why movement skills are important to why we choose the food choices we do. One of the most important tips to learn as a coach is to listen to the athletes as they always ask a lot of questions.
Deborah Bray Lavington Athletics - Head of Coaching and Level 3 Coach
I first qualified as an athletics coach in 2001. I coach Combined Events with a particular interest in High Jump. After spending several years coaching at the Bath University Athletics Track I got fed up of the travelling and decided to start my own club in the rural area I live. I started out watching my children and was then asked to help out. I have also become involved with coaching Learning Disability athletes which I find very rewarding. Women bring to coaching an empathy which is unique and there is absolutely no reason why they cannot succeed at the highest level.
I have been involved in athletics for 25 years, with 16 years as an international athlete and have been a coach for 8 years. When I was an athlete I already started doing my coaching qualifications as I knew this was the route I wanted to take. I got the Apprentice Coach role for UKA and was mentored by Dan Pfaff. Since having my first child 18 months ago, my lifestyle and coaching commitments have changed somewhat. Prior to his birth, I was employed as a full time coach for British Athletics and coached 9 athletes. I then worked part time as a National Coach Mentor for England Athletics while coaching a very small group only 2-3 times a week which fitted in with my new challenges as a mum. My advice is don’t be afraid to ask for help, it's not a sign of weakness, it's a sign that you are going to be a great coach as you are ready to expand your knowledge and help your athlete develop. Finally, get the right balance of athletes in your group and don't spread yourself too thin. You can say no! There will always be someone else that can help those that you can't.