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September 27, 2018

A Little Wing v 2.0: Thoughts from Coach Lauren Fleshman

lauren fleshman

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I started coaching five years ago, capable but not yet confident. Having trained under some of the best coaches in the world, (and paying close attention), I was ready to take the creative reins in coaching myself. But I needed quite a bit of life coaching from Bob and Sarah Lesko before taking the leap into coaching other professional athletes. Lots of late night chats in our respective living rooms is how Project Little Wing was born. So much has happened in these five years. I've had the privilege of coaching incredible women, who were my teachers as much as I was theirs. 

Coaching is always that way, at least it is for the coaches I've admired most. A great coach never thinks they have it all figured out; they bring their knowledge base with them but always approach each athlete with the expectation that there is more to be learned. I aspire to be a great coach that way. And I'm about to get more chances to make that happen! Little Wing is growing!

Here are three things I'm super excited about:


1. Continuing to work with everyone's favorite sisters, the always "low key matching" Mel and Collier Lawrence. 

Mel is fresh off a podium finish at USA's in the steeple, and a dozen back-to-back baby PR's. With Collier recovering from surgery last year, and Mel doing so many tough workouts in scary new pain cave territory alone, I caught myself wishing upon many stars for her to have a larger lady gang to work out with. There comes a point in most athlete's careers where you really need to be injected with a fresh dose of drive, a little bit of healthy competition, and peers to learn from. Being the veteran pro in the group will be a new experience for her, and I'm thrilled for her. 

Collier, the forever older sister (even to me sometimes if I'm being honest, she's my emergency contact), recently celebrated her one year surgery-versary, and is catching some good health momentum. She's at a stage in her career where she gets to dream a little bit again, and reassess which direction she wants her running to go, and I'm here for it. This will be a development year, I believe deeply in Collier, and I know her leadership on the team will be vital for the newbies. Wait, what? Newbies??? About that...

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2. Coaching New Athletes Rebecca Mehra and Maddie Strandemo.

The past two years I've been very resistant to growing Little Wing and adding new talent, even though it had always been part of the long-term plan. Mostly it had to do with timing and the stage of my life. I felt confident coaching the Lawrences, I enjoyed it very much, and I was afraid to add anyone else to the picture. With pregnancy and a new baby on the horizon, and adjusting to retirement from my own professional racing, I wanted stability and known entities around me. I started to wonder if I'd ever want to grow the team. But after Zadie turned about six months, I became more open-minded to the idea. I found myself wanting Mel and Collier to have opportunities to train with a group and learn from people. I wanted them to get a chance to be the veterans passing on what they've learned. I wanted to bring my coaching experience to a couple of new athletes, athletes who I was excited about who felt like a good cultural fit for our team. And so it is with great enthusiasm that we welcome Rebecca Mehra and Maddie Strandemo to Little Wing. 

Rebecca is one year out of Stanford and will continue to hone her miler skills. Maddie, just graduated from University of Minnesota, is joining the #steeplepeople contingent. They are both polyglots (Maddie is fluent in Mandarin, and Rebecca speaks Spanish, Hindi, French, and Urdu), so their house might just become the cultural epicenter of Bend! They will both add so much personality and character to the group.

3. Getting Older.

I just turned 37, and the older I get the more grateful I am to get older. I look back at ways I've changed and things I've learned and I am grateful for the passing of time and the people in my life who keep encouraging me and challenging me to step up to the plate. I'm looking ahead and absolutely bursting with gratitude that Little Wing exists, that Oiselle believes in it and supports it, and that I get to be in partnership with the Leskos who I adore, doing what we love. I approach the 2020 Olympic Cycle with gratitude, hopefulness, enthusiasm, and a hunger to learn and provide an environment for these very deserving women to come into their own and thrive as athletes and people.

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