Coach’s Corner: Finding the Silver Lining

Some Coaching Advice You’ll Never Find in a Book:          Finding the Silver Lining!!

By Coach Mike Smith – Mascenic Regional High School

As I try to get re-accustomed to having some spare time in the afternoons now, with Meet of Champions over, I feel a little melancholy considering how far my team has come in a short time. Two years ago I had three athletes, one female and two male, and while they were by far some of the best athlete’s in the division as well as the entire state, we couldn’t field a team of any sort, nor could I even conceive I would have the opportunity to field one for some years to come.  And while we’ve just started growing some success at the middle school level, it will be a few years before that effort will pay off.

I feel a little down because while we aimed to go big at the Divisional championship, and we put that as our priority, we still held ambitions for Meet of Champions. We believed if everything went right, we had a shot of finishing in the top six and still be training for New Englands.

But everything didn’t go right. We were running without one of our top five, another one was violently ill and two members of the squad fell down during the race, one of them twice.  It should be easy, under these circumstances, to cut the team and one another some slack.  However, if you were to look at the guys or ride the bus home, it was easy to see that the team felt they hadn’t achieved what they should have.

Twenty four hours later, after reviewing the results, I felt pretty comfortable and got over the fact that this would be the first time in 9 years I didn’t have a team or an individual running at New Englands. The week before we had finished first in D3 by the thinnest of margins, last Saturday, 13th overall, and second D3 team.  You can always do the “what ifs”: if no one had fallen down, if the sick athlete didn’t get sick until after MOC’s, if we had been able to run our five fastest guys, if…

In the end, the guys really raced pretty darn good. On the day we had three PR’s, and that’s saying something considering the conditions.  Also, the athlete that fell down twice ran within 5 seconds of his PR and while we finished behind InterLakes, it was by less than twenty, even though we were not at full strength.

So overall, the performance we thought was poor, turns out not to be too bad. In the thick of it, it can be hard to see the silver linings.  But as a coach it’s important to recognize what HAS been accomplished as well as recognizing when you fall short of the goals you have set out.  What we really were looking for was a shot.  We were lucky enough to get our shot, we took it, and we ended thirteenth, and more than 100 points out of sixth.   Something that’s NOT going to happen when you’re down one of your top five.

As I look towards next season and my returning athletes, I can say that we will likely be in a similar situation: looking to move on from the divisional championships and hoping for that outside shot at New Englands. And there is a lot of work to do between now and then.  And my top priority today is to make sure my athletes understand the results of Saturday. The fact that we ran pretty darn good, and that if we just keep moving forward, we will have the opportunity to be back here again, focusing on running well at Meet of Champions.

Good luck to all the individuals and teams representing NH at New Englands!