How it Started
I was at the crossroads. Wasn't enjoying my current job and was still dabbling into a bit of training and racing triathlon here and there. Hanging out at Spin City Cycles, which was run by a great mate that I grew up racing bikes with Liam Clarey and another great mate Tony Mann. Liam told me to get the Saturday Paper and look at the position vacant ads where the Sunshine Coast Grammar School Triathlon Club advertised a Triathlon Coach Position available. So I applied, they decided to run the Club without a Coach. The current President at the time asked if I was interested in coaching his daughter and the rest is now history. Jacqui Scriven and her Dad Jeremy where the first athletes.
1st September 2002. I still remember the day. It was pouring rain. I said to Jeremy "do you still want to ride?" I didn't get up early just to sit in the car was his replied. I had to go out and buy a rain jacket. It seemed to rain a lot that first month. Soon after, Miriam Smith join then we had Kendall Fettell (nee Arundel) and Zoe Theodore and then Annie George. It was a girls group to start off with. Then a few of the boys started to join and soon we had a pretty healthy squad running around. Mostly Juniors, so the focus was on Queensland Schools Triathlon and in the first year we had 2 in the Queensland Team. Since that day we have had 47 be selected in the Team and one in the ITU Junior for World Duathlon Champs.
A really good question. I have been fortunate to have trained under some really good Coaches. The one that I learnt the most from and still look back in awe of what he did, not just for myself, but for the group of athletes that went thru Kawana High School at the time, was my PE Teacher and first Triathlon Coach, Mark Holstein. He did it for the love of the sport and helping us achieve the goals that we wanted to achieve. He developed all of us so we got to the point where we could carrying on into the sport post school. The drive and passion he showed and he did it for nothing. Just the thrill of seeing us all go well.
When I talk of Coaches, I have had the pleasure of being guided by some of the best including my first swimming coach Brian Stehr, Col Stewart (Tri Coach), Gary Ireland (Australian Surf Coach). All 4 of these guys have taught me so much throughout my years to which I still use in my current coaching.
It was the former Coach, Gary Ireland who mentioned that I would be a great coach. While I was training, I would also try and help, support, mentor the younger athletes. They looked up to the way I trained and how I acted in and around the training environment. While most of them were Surf Life Savers, I was introduced to a whole new world of Professional athletes that were competing in the Uncle Tobys and Nutri Grain Series. So I was exposed to some real characters that I was able to gain a lot of perspective and experience from.
I do it as I like the lifestyle that presents itself with coaching. It can be long days and hours, but in the end I am my own boss. Not only are you a coach, you are a mentor, sports psych, doctor, organiser, confident, role model, father figure just to name a few. It is rewarding to see your athletes grow up over the years and see what they achieve outside of sport. They go from getting their learners to their P's, university degrees, working, marriages and even births. You are a part of their growth and development and they become part of your family. Over the years it is great to see where they have come from and where and what they have achieved.
Over the Years
I tell you there are highs and lows associated with Coaching and Athletes in general. There are more lows than highs and in some cases they nearly tear you to shreds. But its that experience that you gain from the deepest of lows, that make those highs even more worthwhile. It is a tough sport, being good at one sport is hard enough, but trying to throw in 3 different disciplines and being at the top of your game in all 3, takes talent, hard work, consistency and being persistent. That's what I love about this sport. Taking on a new athlete that is raw and developing them into an athlete that is the best that they can be. If I can nurture, support and pass on my mistakes so they can learn from that, then we will produce some champions.
Being a champion isn't crossing that line first, its not about winning, but completing the goal that you have sent out for. One of my greatest achievements as a coach was learning that we got an athlete fit enough so he was able to not have to take heart medication anymore. That isn't just winning, but changing a persons life. That is what coaching is about.
In 15 years of coaching, and 25 years in the sport of Triathlon, I am still learning. I have never stopped learning. I have been fortunate to have a great group of coaches around I can on at anytime to just chew the fat or get an opinion. And vice versa. Its what makes a great coach. Being able to liaise with other great coaches for the benefit of your athletes. To seek advice and guidance. I don't have all the answers and I never will. The Coaching I was doing when I first started is totally different to what I do today. I have trialled and let from things. There are still some key things that I do and have for that period of time, but the way in which I coach it now is totally different. That's what you gain from experience of being in the trenches, the ups and downs, the ebbs and flow. Always learning.
It is a never ending rollercoaster. Over the 15 years of coaching, I have had to reinvent myself and what I do numerous times over, riding out the current trends and keeping your head above water. It is great to be part of a community that gave me plenty as an athlete and now I get that chance to give back to a sport and a community that has given me so much in the past.
Now all of this wouldn't be possible without the support and sponsorship that I have received over the years. I have been involved with a lot of businesses that have contributed to the success that we have seen over the years from the SCTA family. So for all the sponsors that have supported SCTA and the program I sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart. Without it I wouldn't have folded in some cases.
One in particular has been an integral part of the SCTA for over 8 years and is the current Major Sponsor of SCTA. Grant Symes and Protector Aluminium. Mate without your support and ongoing support I wouldn't be here. You support each and every year and love what we do. You do it for the joy and seeing the success of what we have been able to achieve over a very long period. For this Grant I owe a massive part the success that I have been able to achieve.
Last but not least, the athletes that have gone thru the program and the current athletes and the future ones. Without the support you show by turning up each and every day, this doesn't happen either. A massive thanks for believing in what I do as a coach and for buying into the program. The smiles on the faces when it goes to plan is enough to keep this old boy grinding away working hard to get the results that you are chasing. I may get down, I might get angry, i might frustrated, but at the end of the day I do this because I care about what I do as a coach.
Once again thanks for the support over the first 15 years.....here's to the next!!! Cheers Toby