It has been almost a year since I stepped away from my position as team manager at Oiselle to coach again at the high school level. After a recent run with Sally, and a walk with Lesko, I found myself drawing many parallels between the two different communities of athletes: the highest level in our sport, and for the majority on my HS team, the beginning level of runner.
BELIEF & TRUST
At Oiselle we were looking for women on our racing team who first and foremost believed in the Oiselle mission, and obviously had a passion for great quality apparel. Duh! On the high school level, daily we are trying to mold our youngsters into believing in the training that we set before them, to trust in that training, and trust in their teammates and coaches. Essentially it comes down to the same concept: belief and trust. Many issues can come into play if you don’t have trust and belief.
Early on in our search for athletes to represent the brand, we learned that great communication was the key to women working effectively in a team environment and also effectively advocating for Oiselle in their own communities. A business that wants to grow has to have passionate members who want to spread the word (and who have an audience who is listening). In high school, the hope for any coach in any sport is that your athletes walk away not only with their graduation cap on, but with great communication skills in place so that they can achieve success in their future careers and lives. Just being fast at any level of running doesn’t guarantee that you will be successful in your pursuits. You have to have something else that draws others in!
From day one of working with Sally and Mac in the tiny corner office it was evident that we were going to work hard and have fun at the same time! As I am sure Sally ponders hundreds of times a year, growing a business is hard work but so worth it. For our high school cross-country team hard work is paramount to achieving goals in a short 12-week season. Bringing your best version of yourself to practice each day is essential. Doing simple things like drinking enough water during the day, eating good meals, and putting healthy, substantial, things in your body to help fuel your machine are all things we talk about. Watching Oiselle elites do this at the highest level was inspirational beyond words. Their daily lives were filled with doing the little things that matter, which over time adds up to making themselves the best competitor they can be.
BE A COMPETITOR
You have to have the fire and the desire to race! Badass women who love to be competitive, love to race, and love to win is what I was surrounded by at Oiselle; in the office and out in the racing world. Co-workers, Volée members, Haute Volée members, all passionate competitors who love to race. That’s what our sport is all about: Being competitors! And that is what I hope to foster amongst the newest of runners. It’s good to want to win, and it's good to want to be strong and badass. Foster and stoke that fire!
And what fosters a fire within yourself more than a community of strong women supporting each other? In both communities, Oiselle and my cross-country team, you must have a tight knit community that supports each other and has a positive vibe leading your efforts. Which is what Oiselle does so well: encouraging women to make small tribes within their cities that can contribute to the group vibe, organically creating places of support for runners everywhere.
It’s all pretty much the same thing: We all want to come to work or practice each day being the best that we can be. We set upon our path with goals in front of us, a mission set forth for us, and we try day in and day out to do the best we can. We hope at the end of the day we are good humans throughout it all and that we make the people around us better.
I am so thankful for five years of working with inspirational and strong athletes, and strong co-workers who have forged their paths to make their dreams happen for themselves. They have inspired me along the way. Watching them work toward their dreams and seeing them do such amazing things made me want to help younger girls on the beginning of this path. Whether it's the path to elite running or whether it's helping young runners find the love of running that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Both are great paths, both teach so much about yourself and what you are made of: Hard work, determination, following a plan, and sticking to it. All of these factors add up and make you a better person along the way. And all of this has its up’s and its down’s; each day putting one foot in front of the other to get out the door is so worth it. In the end it’s the journey that has value and it's how you operate along the way that means the most.
I hope that every young woman who comes through our cross-country program knows that running can be a part of their life forever and that it teaches them so many great lessons along the way. And when they wear their graduation caps on graduation day they can take their skills with them. Skills that will be with them as they conquer other goals in life, knowing that they can find a community of women, a tribe, in every city that will support them, and that will lift them up, as they will do the same in return. Lastly, I hope that wherever their path goes and whenever it changes directions, they don’t forget to say thank you and be grateful for what each stage and each person gave them along the way.
Thank you Oiselle for giving me so many lessons and for fueling my fire. Every strong woman within this community played a part.