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My First Month as an ACM (Area Coach Mentor)

  • Posted: 02.12.2013
  • Author: Ellie Spain (ENG)
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My First Month as an ACM (Area Coach Mentor)

– Ellie Spain

October and November have been a hectic month for all those involved in the winter conference season, coaches and speakers alike! As incoming Area Coach Mentor for Pole Vault, my colleagues Christian North, Alan Williams and I launched straight into our first NCDP gathering in Loughborough. The three of us have been part of the gatherings since their inception and as mentees I for one have always found them to be a great igniter of ideas, sharing and raising the levels of coaching. We were therefore keen to emulate the good work done by the previous NCMs and continue this trend! The NCDP weekend was a great success, and as always, getting coaches together to talk about the topic we are all passionate about, and learn from each other has without fail left me feeling positive about the future of the event.

Following a great first weekend in post, it was pleasure to then deliver at the LCDP event in Manchester, where I was able to catch up with some familiar faces in the Pole Vault world, and meet a great group of coaches working locally in the North West who are engaging and passionate about growth.

My role has since taken me to Sheffield and Leeds and I will shortly be off to Gateshead to visit coaches at their home tracks. What strikes me about visiting Coaches and seeing them coach is how enlightening and refreshing it is to see the hard work these people are putting in to help their athletes on a day to day basis, and how open they are to building their knowledge base and embracing the interdependent openness EA has been striving to instil in coaching and coaches. Getting the job done and getting it done well without complaint would certainly be a reflection on what I have seen so far.

After a few of these visits, I took the time to talk to some of my own mentors in the sport who work abroad … we chatted about the NCDP system, my experiences in the post so far, and thoughts for moving the role forward. The resounding take home I got from these conversations is how lucky we are in England to have this scheme in place whereby engagement, support and a network to lean on is readily available to us. One of the coaches was telling me how he would have given his left arm to have such support in his formative coaching years, and used to instead spend hours in libraries scouring the shelves for any nugget of information he could find! I think we as coaches are really lucky to have this support, and I feel privileged to be able to be part of this support network, further enabling the growth of our event. I think opening up to new people as a Coach, asking questions, and asking for help, may feel like it exposes a certain level of vulnerability in us, and can feel like a risk – something which can be hard on our pride! However, something my great mentors Dan Pfaff and Greg Hull have taught me is that we are all learning, we will all make mistakes, and we are all doing the best we can with the knowledge we have at any given time. I have embraced this viewpoint wholeheartedly and it has only served to accelerate my learning, and open up opportunities for growth.

Looking back, I think it is fantastic to reflect on what the NCDP programme has achieved already, and I am excited at the prospect of having the opportunity to work hard in this position to support the coaches in the North, and building and cementing these relationships with a great group of people who are only going to continue to move the event forwards.

Any comments / queries – it would be great to hear from you espain@englandathletics.org / @ellievault

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