Thursday, June 11, 2009

Leadership and announcement tomorrow

When I left racing after last season and decided to concentrate on coaching, I did it for a number of reasons. Some were:
  • Competition getting tougher
  • Travel expenses rising
  • Sponsorships becoming tougher to get
  • Prize money staying the same, or in some cases going down, (XTERRA)
Basically everything pointed to negative. All of this contributed, but there were other things like wondering if I had the mental commitment required to continue to race at such a high level. After all, these factors certainly upped the mental ante.

I was starting to look more at the opportunities triathlon was costing me, and not what it was giving me. I left teaching to race professionally because I loved the sport, not because of money. Somewhere along the line that changed, and I wanted to go back to loving the sport.

I saw so many things the sport needed, which I had a desire to chase and make happen. I came to realize triathlon didn't need another pro-triathlete. What triathlon needed was leadership. Leadership in coaching, teaching, journalism, development, and growing the sport.

Since this realization, I've forged ahead with the same effort and intensity that I brought to my training and racing, near its peak. Some of these things have been:
  • Coaching a weekly track workout on Tuesday nights, trying to grow the event and make it a learning experience for the athletes, not just a hard workout
  • Coaching an open-water swim workout every other Wednesday, because it was clear the community of athletes were lacking race-specific skills
  • Running my first training camp in Tucson, in March
  • Clinics on a variety of skills
  • Giving monthly talks on training topics at B+L Bikes, on heat training, using GPS and power meters to monitor and track training, swimming, and much more
  • Expanding into other regions of the country to do the same things, (Chicago, Orange County, and soon New Orleans)
  • Coaching and working with elites, like Renata Bucher, to help her make the jump to the top step of the podium this season, (hopefully)
  • Working with celebrities, (Parvati Shallow and Matt Hoover), to bring more attention and new exposure to the sport
This has all been great and I am happy about the decision I have made, and I think the sport is better for it. I hope to return to racing at some point, but right now this is what the sport needs from me and needs me to continue doing.

Last night at the open-water swim workout, two people from USA Triathlon happened to be walking by, in town for a collegiate conference, and saw what I was doing. They came up and talked with me for bit and seemed impressed with what I was doing. It was assurance that I am doing the right things, which the sport needs.

So tomorrow, I will announce the next step in this personal mission to be a leader in triathlon, and help raise the profile of the sport. I'm excited, and I think you will be too.

Coach Vance

4 comments:

Ben Dugas said...

Are you planning on running for the vacant USAT spot?

Jim Vance said...

No, I have enough politics in my life. I didn't even know there was a vacant spot. Locally? Regionally? Or nationally?

Sara Cox Landolt said...

Thanks for sharing your perspective on our sport & your many roles in it. Triathlon continues to reach athletes of all levels. Thanks for helping shape this sport as it multiplies & impacts lives. I hope to catch one of your regional events sometime. I live in Wisconsin.

Jim Vance said...

Thanks Sara, I will be at IM Moo in September, so maybe you can help me set-up a talk or clinic?