I never thought I would be a retired skating coach. Skating was my passion, my life and my reason for getting up in the morning. Coaching quickly became my new passion after university, and I had always envisioned myself as one of those coaches sitting on a stool teaching from the boards at 90, still loving it and giving back.
Circumstances changed, and demanded I “pivot” from my 30 year career in coaching. Truthfully, it was a struggle. So much of my identity was wrapped up in seeing myself as “coach” that when it was stripped away, I didn’t recognize myself.
Even though I’d found a gig that paid my bills, it didn’t feed my soul and challenge me the way coaching did, and I floundered away from the sport. I knew I had more to say, but I didn’t know how to say it.
One day, as I was aimlessly flipping through the available apps on my phone, I came across Anchor, an app designed to let anyone start their own podcast with zero cost and minimal equipment.
After floating the idea by a couple of coaching friends we were in business and we are now three podcasts in and loving the process.
Along the way, I’ve learned a LOT about myself and thought I would share some of my realizations with you. So without ado, here are 6 things I have learned about myself by recording a podcast.
1. My Imposter Syndrome is Alive and Well
I’ve always suffered from low self-esteem and imposter syndrome. Therapy, self-talk and affirmations (things every coach is VERY familiar with) have helped me with my self-image to the point where if I’m having a bad day, I can “fake it” perfectly with no one the wiser.
There is always a little voice inside my head that surfaces when I am trying something new or putting myself out there that asks, (in it’s insipid voice), “who do you think you are?” or, “why do you think people would want to listen to you?”
When you podcast, you’re sharing a little bit of yourself to the entire world (well, at the very least, our 5 subscribers…hey…we’re new!) It’s scary to be that vulnerable, knowing that you could be opening yourself up to criticism. Each podcast gets a little easier, but it’s still there.
2. My Love of Skating is NOT Dead
I’ve made no secret concerning my opinions on the issues I see systemically within our sport system in Canada, particularly for coaches working in smaller centres. After thirty years of coaching, and in particular the last nine years in a place that seems to be a hotbed of rumor, back-channeling, and toxicity, I was drained and disillusioned.
I felt that there MUST be something wrong with me, because no matter how hard I worked, or how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to make things better. As the saying goes, “same shit, different pile.” There is nothing worse than doubting yourself at every turn and walking on eggshells. When you add to that a history of chronically being undervalued and underpaid, as so many of us are, it results in burnout.
Over a year ago, I made the decision to NOT return to coaching, and it was like a weight had lifted off of my chest. I had no idea how much I had let the culture around me affect my mental and emotional health. And to be frank, I didn’t have much good to say about our profession in general.
I now know that was the depression and anxiety talking, and that my love of the sport is NOT DEAD; the lessons I have learned from doing it, and how I FEEL when I help young athletes learn, have kept my passion and interest alive. By sharing my thoughts, concerns and feelings in a safe environment with my trusted coaching friends, I am slowly finding my love of the sport again.
3. I Needed Grown-Up Time
Not that we need reminding, but, this year has felt like a zombie-fucking-apocolypse y’all, and the isolation was really starting to get to me. Like, having-entire-conversations-with-my-daughter’s-LOL-dolls and breaking-into-show-numbers-from-Hamilton-at-any-given-moment kind of getting to me.
Just being able to schedule an hour of intelligent, constructive, ADULT conversation with friends who absolutely “get” the world of coaching is GOLD.
4. I Need to Learn to Enunciate
I had always thought of myself as fairly articulate, both in the written word AND speaking. Turns out…not so much. In our last podcast we were chatting and comparing the two skating styles of the US skater Nathan Chen, and our Canadian icon Patrick Chan.
Now, I KNOW that their last names are “CHEN” and “CHAN” respectively, and I know when we were chatting about these two skaters I said Nathan Chen and Patrick Chan, but upon listening to the playback, I quickly realized that I was not very clear when it came to pronouncing the short “A” sound in Chan.
SIGH…..diction lessons for me it is. You will find me reciting “the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plane” a la “My Fair Lady” for the next little while. The irony is I actually teach English as a second language every morning and spend countless hours helping young kids learn how to properly pronounce those same sounds!
So for anyone listening to our third podcast, I am in fact saying “Nathan CHEN, and Patrick CHAN”….. but you just can’t tell.
5. I Am Blessed to be Surrounded by Intelligent Friends
I am blessed in my life. Every single one of my friends teaches me something every time I interact with them, and my co-hosts on our podcast are no exception. I learn something new about myself, the sport of figure skating, and coaching in general by our frank discussion.
I’ve always been a believer that sharing ideas and opinions is the best way to learn and grow, and this podcast has only reinforced that belief. Picking topics and sharing viewpoints, whether you are in agreement or not, opens your mind and helps you grow as individuals.
6. It Really Matters to Me That This Podcast Can Inform and Inspire New Coaches
As you get older, you always wonder what you will leave behind. Have I made life better for at least one person? Have I made a difference in the lives of my students, my friends, or my child?
With each podcast I realize I have a forum that my friends and I can utilize to inform others about the positives and negatives related to professional coaching. I’m hopeful we can do it in a funny, candid and constructive way, and provide some degree of mentorship and inspiration.
As senior coaches, and particularly as women in coaching, it’s our job to open doors and support those coming after us. It’s the least we can do for our sport, and to repay those that helped us along the way.
It’s always scary to put myself out there, but I’m so glad I did. I’m enjoying creating our podcast so much, and I encourage you to listen and become part of the conversation!
Check us out: Coaches On Edge on Anchor, Spotify, Google Podcasts, RadioPublic, Breaker, PocketCasts, and Overcast.
Have you stepped out of your comfort zone with any new ventures lately? Share your experience and what you’ve learned in the comments!