Coaches know athletes must focus on more than sports

Gabe Davis

ISU women’s track coaches understand that allowing room for success is just as important as allowing room for failure. Part of that success is developing a relationship between the coach and the athlete. Ron McEachran, jumping coach for the women’s track team, said he hopes to teach the team about what will help them do better and what mistakes may cause them to get into trouble. “That’s kind of what you do everyday at practice. You’re either correcting or critiquing what they do,” McEachran said. “A lot of what you’re doing at a meet when they get nervous is probably trying to put them at ease a little bit. If they start to panic, which is really easy to do, you have got to try to calm them down and help them to believe in themselves. That’s part of the idea.”The coaches are there to support the women and to help them to do the best that they can, head coach Dick Lee said.”They’re not doing it because we have expectations for them,” he said, “we help guide them in helping set some goals. There are times you say, ‘That wasn’t a good effort,’ but they know when it’s not a good effort.”The relationship between coaches and their athletes is very unique. In some ways, the coaches develop a parental sort of relationship with the athletes, yet “you don’t have to tell them no, you don’t have to discipline them, you don’t have to ground them,” McEachran said.”I love to watch them grow from freshmen, who are kind of intimidated and naive, to confident, intelligent kids,” he said. “I deal with some kids who are really good students here. You want them to be happy and to have success and when they don’t have success it kills you and when they do, you’re related,” he added.The ISU track coaches have a philosophy of building relationships with their athletes because they know that they will be spending a lot of time together and will be working toward a common goal.”First of all and foremost, we’re coaching the athletes,” O’Mara said. “We want them to do well.”The average track athlete will see their coaches six days a week, nine months out of a year, for four straight years. Bonds grow between the women and their coaches, and those bonds help to make the seasons more enjoyable for both.”We want the athletes to feel comfortable and come up to us and have individual attention,” O’Mara said. “We always stress here at Iowa State that we want to have an individual relationship with each one of them.”The women said they have noticed the coaches’ efforts and appreciate them, Trywianski said.”You get attached. I remember when I first got here and the coach was so helpful,” she said, “I said, ‘OK, I’m going to be all yours, you’re going to do whatever is needed to be done to make me improve,’ and he did it. It’s really a trustful relationship I suppose.” The relationship also involves caring about how the women are doing in the rest of their college careers, including academics and social life, McEachran said. “We care about what they do in the classroom as well as on the track,” O’Mara said. “The bond we have is a friendship bond we create from all the coaches that work with them. Our main objective is to get them through class and through college, and also is for them have a great experience at Iowa State.”