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How to be a Great High School Coach

BY OLIVIA COFFEY
PHOTO PROVIDED

I’ve known Kathryn Lucier Green a.k.a. “Luc” since I was four years old. She coached all three of my older sisters in high school and, by the time that I arrived at Phillips Academy, she felt more like family than faculty. 

     Though I’m biased, I consider Luc one of the best high-school rowing coaches in the country. She consistently produced top recruited athletes, the most famous being double Olympic champion Caroline Lind, though her influence was felt by every athlete on her team. She taught us how to be tenacious racers, dedicated teammates, and compassionate leaders. Of the six seniors in my boat, five of us went on to become captains of our respective collegiate teams.     

     Everything about Luc was cool. Her short blond hair, which was usually down while she was teaching during the day, would be tied up in the front at practice so that her bangs pointed straight towards the sky, like a character out of a Dr. Seuss book. Her usual greeting to athletes as we loaded onto the bus for practice was, “Sup, my little chickadees?” and, once we got on the water, she always found a way to make the best out of difficult situations. To this day, every time I row in rough water, I think of Luc and the song she used to sing to us at the top of her lungs over the megaphone to the tune of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” with a bit of water wordplay and profanity thrown in to make it entertaining and distract us from miserable conditions. 

     I’m especially reminded of Luc over this past year, an unexpected addition to the 2020 Olympic cycle. In high school, Luc would occasionally throw a “bonus piece” in at the end of practice, an extra opportunity to dig a little deeper, even though you felt you had already emptied the tank. She would do this only once or twice a season, but it’s something my crew came to celebrate because it allowed us to realize how strong we really were. These last 12 months have felt like a “bonus year” of training and, much like my high school teammates, I’ve been impressed by my fellow national teamers and their ability to lean into the extra work and come out stronger and faster because of it.

     But Luc wasn’t a great coach because of bonus pieces, cool hair, or how she talked. She didn’t make fast rowers because she trained us super hard (we did two erg pieces a season), and we didn’t win races because of a special race plan (she used to read us excerpts from inspirational books as a pre-race warm up). She was a great coach because she loved us, and we knew it. I’m lucky to have had her as my coach.

1,500-Meter Prep Workout

2 x (4×2’ on/1 off)

  • 24-30 spm on first set; 26-32 spm on second set
  • Additional bonus piece at 34 possible

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