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February 27, 2020
Tell us about your path to Léman.
I went to the University of Tulsa with a full track scholarship. There I got my bachelor’s degree in exercise sports science. I made all-American regional champion. And then from there I went on to the Oregon Track Club in Eugene, Oregon, and ran for Nike and competed for Olympic trials. After that, I competed in L.A. with another professional coach and competed on the European track circuit. I traveled to Italy, France, and Germany, but also cities I never imagined visiting like Slovenia and Pergine and Donas in Italy. Then I did the Caribbean Circuit, which included the Cayman Islands and Jamaica, among other places. Competing around the world was something I envisioned as a little girl, so it was incredible that it came true.
I got my master's in coaching and athletic administration from Concordia University in Irvine, CA as I was transitioning out of running because I knew I still wanted to be involved in athletics and sports. My husband and I got pregnant and moved back to New York. I found a job listing for a track coach position at Léman. I've been here as the track coach for the past few years. I was also working at Equinox as a personal trainer and then I got promoted to the corporate office. Corporate life was completely different and not really for me. I was too far away from the gym, where I love to be. Coaching at Léman was my only connection to helping and empowering athletes to be better and to think beyond what was just in front of them. And I really wanted to do more of that. I sat down and had a conversation with Keith and let him know like I wanted a career change. A position opened for a full-time PE teacher and then later I was offered the position of Female Athlete Liaison.
What made you decide that you wanted to be a coach and a teacher?
I come from a family of educators. My mom was a teacher. She used to work in the fashion industry but then left that career to start her family. I always had the foundation of knowing how important education is from her. I knew the interactions that you have with teachers and coaches can influence the path that you're on. I wanted to be in a space to influence and educate and teach others and pass that forward.
Do you have a coaching philosophy?
It varies based on what type of athlete I'm working with. Not every philosophy works with everyone. You lift them up, encourage them, and challenge them, but also meet them where they are because everybody doesn't respond to the same thing. Some need a little bit more intimate one-on-one. Some will take the instruction you give and go get it done and then come back and say, “what do you think?” It really varies. You have to kind of have a personal connection with your athletes to know who's going to respond to what.
This is the first year of Léman’s Women’s Athletic Committee. Why was the committee formed?
We are not just focused on athletics, but rather how the girls approach life every day. We’ve been bringing in guest speakers. Maria spoke to the girls about her career path. Chef Joanna is going to come speak. All the women who work at Léman have amazing stories of their career paths. That’s really inspiring to these girls.
I really want the girls to spearhead the conversation. We have breakfast meetings where we discuss current events. We do our morning affirmations. They talk about things that happen in school, on their teams, with their friends, or something that may have happened on the train. I want them to have a place where they feel comfortable and they feel safe to have these conversations because they may not have someone who they can talk to about this.
What do you think the girls on the committee are getting out of that experience?
I think first and foremost, the most important thing they're getting out of it is knowing how to feel confident, feel encouraged, not being afraid to speak up or go after whatever it is that they want to do, whether it's a job they want, a school they want to apply to, or book they want to write, whatever it may be, just teaching them to take ownership and walk in their power. Most recently, we hosted a workshop with Kéara Richardson of KOR values called “What's Your Brand?” meaning your own personal brand. As the speaker broke down the conversation, she was asking questions like “how would people describe you?” Then as the conversation progressed, they were asked “how would you describe yourself in your school setting? How would you describe yourself in your athletic setting? How would you describe yourself at home?” They were encouraged to think about if they were being authentic to themselves, which is so important.
I hope they are building confidence, work ethic, and strong values that go across the board, whether it's in school or athletics, you have to have the skill set to be successful and reach your goals are and feel accomplished and be purposeful in your life.
Why do you think it's important to have a group that's specifically for girls?
I think as we're progressing as a society, diversity, and inclusion are coming to the forefront. We have women leaders who've been fighting for inclusion and power for years and decades and even centuries and now we’re making progress. So, I think that it's only right that we step in and empower girls to be leaders.
Do you what do you like about being in the athletic department here at Léman?
I love the diversity of the department. Everyone comes from different athletic backgrounds, whether it’s soccer, or gymnastics or volleyball. But everybody understands what it means to be an athlete and what it means to get in there and work for your team.
The challenge for our students is that they have a lot of different priorities between academics, athletics, and their social lives. But I think that being on a team really helps them focus. And I'm happy that friends will encourage friends to come and join the team or the Women's Athletic Committee.
What do you do in your free time?
I have two boys. I like to take them to the park and throw a football or do a workout together. I don't have a ton of time because I'm in grad school to get my second master's in physical education. Right now, I'm taking three graduate classes at Queens College. It’s hard but the courses draw me in because everything I'm learning I can come back and apply to my coaching here at Léman. It’s hard but I'm enjoying being busy and purposeful in each of the things that I'm doing.