My friend and former University of Michigan teammate, Rachel, is one of the most talented, unabashed and honest writers I have ever had not just the pleasure to meet, but compete with for four years. She wrote an amazing article for Runner’s World on the abuse of power that exists in some female collegiate running programs. While scathing exposés are what many people salivate over, clawing at all of the dirty details of a story, Rachel does a tremendous job discussing the inspiration for the story- a coach from the University of Toledo being completely inappropriate with some of his athletes, which lead to mental emotional abuse- and a not so far removed experience of some athletes in a nearby high school. I encourage you to read it. Strongly encourage.
If you’ve ever been curious about the psyche of collegiate athletes, especially that of the female long distance runner, she does a great job describing the emotional fragility that exists on any given day and how easily it is for a coach to manipulate that state in either a positive or negative way. (Another, more in depth, exploration occurs in “The Silence of Great Distance,” a stirring account of successful distance runners going to extremes.)
We Wolverines had the amazing experience of working under a coach who had nothing but track on the brain 24/7 and measured his happiness in our successes on the oval or cross country course. Mike McGuire will absolutely live in my mind as one of the country (world’s?) greatest coaches not only for the way he could produce excellent athletes recruiting class after recruiting class, but because of his commitment to make us all better athletes. That commitment did away with the outside forces that may be distracting us from our training, but you know, that technique worked because as soon as you got to the track, you knew you had to check your issues at the front door (or, in my case, toss them into the steeple pit), lest you disappoint your coach, whose job it was to make you successful. He wasn’t about to waste his time with a bunch of young women who didn’t care to be there or didn’t feel like trying that day. He could be tough, but he balanced it well with awkward humor and random insight you never knew the man had. I know that not everyone had such a fulfilling experience with the college teams and coaches, so I am grateful for Mike’s commitment to high standards and to the women who made it all worthwhile.
Forever, GO BLUE!