Our series on coaching continues, as On the Run chats with the Wellington Scottish coaching coordinator, Jamie White.
How long have you been a member of Wellington Scottish, and what have been some of the highlights of your time in the club?
I remember turning to up to the Saturday club runs about 20 years ago and trying to keep up with the likes of Todd. The highlight is still the time I became the youth men's club champion in 2002; my name is on the wall in the clubrooms. I was given this giant shield that was probably 100 years old. As a teenager at the time I was absolutely.
Other highlights include the many fun times at National Road Relays with the B-Boyz and representing Wellington at various national running events.
What made you decide to accept the job of coaching coordinator?
I had a serious back injury and couldn’t run that often, and I’d also been looking for a volunteer position at the club so that I could give back in a positive way. I benefited greatly from free coaching by Don Dalgliesh as a teenager. He used to drive us to all of the races around New Zealand at zero cost to my parents. I also have good memories running around the Hutt Rec grass track after school, behind the likes of Nick Willis and others who were coached by Don.
As coaching coordinator, what are your main tasks?
Providing a programme for coaching includes many email templates for new runners, introducing coach and athlete and introducing new athletes to the coaching programme. I was a beneficiary of a good running programme when Simon Keller offered me the role early last year, which made the transition a lot easier. I’ve since created a coaching spreadsheet to track coaches and athletes. It’s a tradition that we all go out for dinner once a year to share stories.
How many coaches do you work with, and how many athletes do coaches tend to have?
It’s been a big year for coaching. We have had in total 30 athletes assigned coaches. Of the 20+ coaches available there is a small group of coaches who coach over ten athletes each. I have to say a big thanks to James Turner and Chandima Kulathilake for taking a good group of athletes under their wings. It’s just fantastic to see such passionate coaches.
What does it take to be a coach within Wellington Scottish? How do you know if you’re qualified to be a coach?
Most of our coaches are passionate and successful runners, have a background in sports, and have been running for at least 5 years. We also take on mentors; for that you only need to have been with the club for say a year. You then have the option of working your way to being a coach.
What help does the club give to members who want to work as coaches?
There are coaching courses provided each year by athletic bodies such as Athletics Wellington and Athletics NZ. We have our mentoring programme for coaches, which is a good way to work towards being a coach. Otherwise, you can pair with an existing coach and learn from them as you go.
What’s the worst thing about being coaching coordinator?
When no one has the time to take on an athlete. When this happens I have to put members on a waiting list. It can be frustrating for me and the athlete when they have to wait a while for a coach to become available.
What’s the best thing?
Assigning a new athlete to a coach, and watching the athlete thrive in the club and run many races in the yellow singlet.