The “win at all costs” sport culture needs to retire and be replaced by the “whole person athlete” culture. In this episode of The Appetite, Opal co-founder and Clinical Director Kara Bazzi, talks with two coaches who are doing just that– actively working towards the “whole person athlete” sport culture. Listen as Marie Davis Markham and Robyn McGillis share their story as coaches who developed a community of learning called Wildwood Running to make an impact beyond their respective sport teams in the Portland, Oregon area. Wildwood Running’s mission is to guide, empower, connect and educate young female runners and coaches that impact young female runners. Coaches and athletes, tune in to be inspired and learn that a healthy sports culture is possible!

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Thank you to our team…

Editing by David Bazzi

Music by Aaron Davidson:

Administrative support by Camille Dodson

Episode Transcript:

Kara 0:15
Hello and welcome to the appetite a podcast brought to you by Opel food and body wisdom. I’m Kara Bazi, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and co founder and clinical director of Opel. If you’re new to the appetite, welcome. And if you’ve already have us on your listen list, you will likely know that we have taken a hiatus from recording. And we’re excited to be back refocusing our episode content on the areas we live and breathe it Opal, namely Health at Every Size are LGBT and exercise and sport. Today I have the pleasure of interviewing the co founders of Wildwood running Marie Davis, Markham and Robyn mcgillis. These women are both long distance running coaches in the Portland Oregon area who have come together to change the landscape of the sport of distance running through the mission of Wildwood to guide Empower, connect with and educate young female distance runners and coaches that impact young female renters. I love their work, and I’m inspired by their creativity of how they’re using their coaching platforms, and relationships with experts in the community to change sport culture. Okay, enough of me, Robin and Marie, why don’t you share the story of how Wildwood came into existence?

Robyn 1:31
Okay, first of all, it’s great to be here. Maria and I are super excited to share a little bit of our story and talk to you. So while what started just over two years ago, now, was just our two year anniversary in January. And like you said, we’re both coaches in the area in the Portland, Oregon area where he coaches at Lincoln High School and I coach at Central Catholic, and I’ve been there at Central High School for nine years, and in that time, have been to several coaching clinics, it’s just kind of something you do you go to a clinic, you learn about different methodologies, different training philosophies, and some are local, some we traveled to and we were at a coaches clinic that we go to annually in Boulder, Colorado. And it was a great clinic really great kind of the X’s and O’s we say like as far as like, what sort of workouts you should be doing at what time of year content. But one Marine, somebody asked a question to some of the presenters about how do you make adjustments for your female runners that, you know, may be going through puberty hitting a plateau? Like how do you manage that alongside of the of the training plan? And all of them answered the question, but it just left us feeling like there could be more there. Like there, it wasn’t quite enough, you know, we thought there’s got to be, we know there’s more information out there on how to better support female runners as they go through these fluctuations. And we just felt like, from the answers that we got these coaches as well as Maria and I, as coaches could add to our toolkits, to better support empower these girls. So that one, they could ride the wave through these fluctuations. And we could have more girls staying in sport longer in their career, because we typically see a drop off junior senior year, where girls feel discouraged. They’re going through these changes. And their times may slow down a little bit. They’re not sure what’s going on. And they feel, you know, alone, not empowered not having that information. So that’s kind of where Wildwood was born. We, we late night after that clinic, were chatting and we thought, could we bring experts together to kind of bring more information not only for us, as coaches, but to our peers, in the way of mental health, confidence, nutrition, relationship with food, those sorts of things. And then just some of the basic nuts and bolts of understanding puberty read us running on your period, those pieces that we wanted to learn and then we could bring that to other coaches. So that’s kind of the idea of the mission of Wildwood was kind of born at one of those clinics.

Kara 4:09
would you add anything me to that?

Maria 4:12
No, I mean, I think I think the only thing I would add is that Robin and I had been there, right? We were young runners ourselves, and whether through our own experiences, or our peers, or teammates, like, we know what it’s like being a female distance runner, especially in high school and this, like there were no conversations that I ever had at that age. And I feel like and Robin was the same. So we were like, Let’s start this. Let’s there are people doing really great work. How can we bring that together?

Kara 4:42
Yeah. And I feel curious about how you identified what those gaps were like. I know that now that I’ve been involved with Wildwood, I see sort of the theme of having a talk on team culture having a talk on periods having a talk on nutrition. So how did how did you all decide sort of what the gaps were in these amaze clinics.

Maria 5:03
And when originally we originally we started by surveying just the coaches we knew, right? What kind of information would you like to learn about young female distance runners, middle schoolers, and high schoolers, particularly, and we got a ton of feedback. And most of it were the topics that we kind of launched into, like you mentioned over and over. And so we started there. And then as we started hosting clinics and workshops, the surveys after those really gave us information on what people’s favorites were, we always asked like, you know, which one did you learn the most from? Whether it was it’s a coaching clinic or an athlete clinic? And also, which one did you like enjoy or love the most. And usually, that gives us a lot of information as to what we can continue working on, and then also with our own girls, right on our teams, the information they’re asking for year after year after year. And sometimes the same girl asking for the same information year after year really solidified what we thought was the most important. Yeah,

Robyn 6:01
and one thing I’d add to that, too, is, I feel like we learned a lot as we started reaching out before our kind of inaugural inaugural event, and started reaching out to practitioners, Marie, and I will tell the story, we I think we got on the phone with Maria Dausa, who’s a dietitian in the Seattle area. And we initially came to thinking, we’re going to talk about calories, and what kind of foods girls need to eat, to sustain, you know, to fuel themselves. That’s, that’s where we were coming from. And Maria was like, well, actually, I don’t really, that’s not what I talked about. I talked about relationship with food, diet, culture, intuitive eating. And it just, it really opened up our eyes, immediately to this whole other topic area that we had kind of to be honest, I hadn’t really thought about, and it’s been a huge, so it feel like we’ve learned from the girls from the surveys of the coaches, but also from the practitioners that we’ve engaged with along the way that have really helped say, this is what I’m, like, even carry with you. What are you seeing in your practice? What are common themes that you’re having to address because most likely, those are the same themes that are going to be prevalent in the girls in the coaches that we’re working with.

Kara 7:17
That’s actually I didn’t realize that it was your conversation with Maria dolls that initially that opened up Europe, we both of your your ideas to what could be focused on when it came to relationship with foods. I know Maria was the first dietitian that you brought in for your first clinic. And that was also the clinic I participated in as well. And I was so excited to see that that she was who you brought in, that was going to change the conversation around relationship with food. And that’s something I’m really I really respect about what you’re doing. Because I think it’s it’s not what people are expecting to hear from a nutrition talk.

Maria 7:56
It was an easy test, we were sitting in Robins car, talking to her on the phone, and she just kept saying things and we’re like, yes, yeah, this is we need to here this is this is exactly where we need to be not knowing that that’s where we were going to go right. And it opened our eyes in that moment. And it puts something like an idea to our thoughts, but we didn’t know that that idea was out there. So it was really cool.

Kara 8:22
Right? That’s exciting. And it just, I think it confirms the overlap between the work that opals doing, and what you’re trying to bring into, specifically into the sport world with these athletes and this coaches. So that’s really what

Robyn 8:39
you think about it, too. And it’s, it’s no different than like, it should be no different in my mind. Like I work with a physical therapist. And I talked to the PT about, you know, what, what are the dynamic exercises we’re doing? What are we doing to prep our bodies to get ready for a workout? Right? And so I rely on the experts, it should be the same with confidence with relationship to food, you should be reaching out to these experts and saying, Okay, what should I be talking to my girls about? How should we be preparing them for life?

Kara 9:10
Yes. And there’s a lot of experts in the field of nutrition that would approach it differently to right, like they would be focusing on the one Yeah, especially in sports nutrition. So, again, I think it’s really notable that within Wildwood running, you’re you’re opening it up to a more countercultural, some countercultural ideas around it?

Maria 9:30
Well, and to be honest, that’s all we’ve ever heard at any coaching clinic is what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat percentage of how much you weigh, you know, whatever that isn’t, it’s like, overwhelming and for for two coaches who just want our girls and our guys to love the sport and and have a great relationship with food. That felt like daunting, right? Like, I can’t bring this back to my kids. Like, I don’t understand it. So how are they gonna understand it? And so you messaging messaging and or information I should say from Opal and people like Maria just feels. It feels empowering. It feels like we’re reaching people in a new way, which feels great.

Kara 10:11
Yeah, that’s really cool. And what have you noticed about in terms of how coaches in particular are kind of receiving this or what you? What feedback are you getting or observations are you making around as you’ve been doing this work and holding now this is going to be what? Your third fourth clinic coming up? Yeah, yes, maybe?

Maria 10:33
Yeah, just ran there.

Robyn 10:35
Yeah. And we did a bunch of little free Wildwood Wednesday’s, the first summer we started. So we’ve done like some bigger events, and then some kind of little mini events.

Maria 10:43
But the feedback, I think the, you know, the great thing is when we try and when we host a clinic or event, to give coaches and athletes something they can take in that moment, like something they can do it tomorrow, right? Because that’s what they’re they want. But then there’s the big piece of how can we challenge them to look at their whole approach at coaching? How can we challenge them to like, think deeper. And I think that’s what these conversations are doing. Like, hopefully, they’re walking away, feeling a little confused and a little uncomfortable, so that when they maybe then go and find more information, maybe they come listen to your podcast, or maybe they read a book, or maybe they hire someone to come into their team. But ultimately, coaches, when we receive information back from them, they they do feel challenged, and kind of like, Whoa, that was cool. And a lot of times, they can’t put words around it, but just kind of like, thank you for that. Because I feel like, that’s information I needed, and it will change my practice. And who knows if that challenge is uncomfortable for people, and they push it away. But hopefully, most of them decided to do something with it. Yeah, a lot of the coaches come back to, and you see the same people coming back, which to me feels like, you know, even if some of our topic areas are similar, and we have different clinicians or presenters, they’re on their own path to discovering what’s going to help them. And maybe they need to hear a conversation from Kara Bazi three times before, they’re able to really figure out what that means for them.

Kara 12:17
Right. And I that feels so true with what we see kind of on our side with with treatment and even working with family members or support system people in our in our clients lives. If this is a whole reworking of some of these thinking about your relationship with food or relationship with exercise, that it takes a while to digest. And you’re going to have like you said language around it or even know what questions to ask a lot of it. We’ve talked about a seed planting, we’re doing a lot of seed planting that then people can kind of Mull something over. But it’s so encouraging to hear that the the coaches that you’re even Yeah, you’re getting repeats.

Maria 12:55
Yeah. And even the girls are coming back. So they’re coming. I mean, you see a lot of the same names over and over and over. With similar, like I said, similar topics. So they’re still wanting this information. And when we hosted our first summer camp, we were talking to someone who gave us advice, like, you can have the same presentation, you can have the same speakers, you can do the same thing year after year after year, because these girls are evolving, right? Their lens is different. Maybe they’re hearing something about navigating their period prior to having their period. And then maybe the next year they get their period. And so now it makes more sense to them. So the lens that people are listening to this is always going to be different, even if even if it’s information they’ve heard before.

Robyn 13:40
Yeah, yeah. The one other piece, I just add to that, you may have said this, Marie, so forgive me if I’m repeating. But I think the other thing, in addition to the information that I think I feel like we do a good job at and we’ve we’ve evolved as we’ve gone is the space to reflect and to talk. So even if it’s a similar content, these girls love coming into groups, whether it’s over zoom or in person to have discussions because it just feels, I think, therapeutic to them.

Kara 14:10
One One thing I’ve noticed I have a ninth grade girl and a seventh grade girl, and just even through like school and health classes and places where, for example, something like nutrition or puberty might be talked about. They’re not given a lot of space for conversation there to talk about it in this way or in a different way. They are given more of the traditional information, but without sort of the exploration questions. And so I just appreciate that too, that they’re that you’re providing spaces to have community and conversation and learn from each other. For the girls and the coaches. I did join Maria and Robin in San Francisco recently for a clinic. And I just was really struck by how amazing it is for coaches to learn from each other and have that community. I, my husband is a coach and I kept thinking I wished he was to have that experience of just sharing even ideas and sharing practices and, and learning from each other and just seeing the spirit of learning was so it was so obvious of of how much open mindedness there is and desire for growth.

Maria 15:24
Yeah, that feels we’ve talked about that in the world of running. And it’s one sport that really lends to sharing ideas and trying to enhance each other because, you know, the relationship between coach and athlete is unique, right? But you can do all these amazing workouts. And this Robin, and I could be doing the same workouts, but get such different results based upon you know, how we cultivate our team around that. So one thing that we do love about this community is the willingness to share and want to learn from each other. And that feels really empowering. And I feel so proud to be a part of a group of people like,

Kara 16:00
yeah, yeah, there wasn’t a spirit of like, withholding or being competitive or like, I don’t want someone to know this for my own success. Like it didn’t feel. Yeah, there’s a lot of generosity that’s extended. And it’s interesting to I think, like the what were what you focus on in your clinics, like, in some ways, there’s still so much change to be, you know, realized in the sport world, especially there’s, you know, there’s so much incidence of eating disorders and body shaming and disordered eating. And I think on the recent kind of information coming out from the University of Oregon, and their track program, and I think more people are vocalizing what’s what’s happening and asking and advocating for change. So on the one hand, there’s still a long ways to go. But I think what you’re offering with Wildwood just offers a lot of hope in, in having something that’s being offered, of how to make change, not just identify the problem, but what what can we do with that problem? And how can we grow and learn and change practices? So I just, that’s, it’s, it’s really helpful. When you think of as coaches particularly, what do you see? How do you both see your role in the changing of the sport culture? And like, where do you see kind of your particular niche, I guess, in that,

Robyn 17:25
okay, me though.

Maria 17:27
I’m an assistant coach at Lincoln. And so I feel like, my biggest role within our team itself is supporting our head coach. And in that regard, our relationship needs to like really be in tune and our philosophy the same, but it specifically I work a lot with the girls, and having those conversations and providing them information. And then also empowerment. So when they walk away from our program, I feel pretty confident, hopefully, that their trajectory is going to be really great. But also knowing that kind of like what you were talking about the University of Oregon, knowing that they’re probably going to be the ones who ask questions, or bring up red flags, or wonder why are we doing this. And I think that that’s also the same with Wildwood, I hope that girls have enough information that if something feels off, something feels inappropriate, something doesn’t feel good for them with their body and how they view their body or in any regards, that they’re gonna then ask a question or turn to a peer and say, Does this feel right to you? Or ask a coach or reach out to their parents? Because, I mean, we can talk about programs like, like the University of Oregon, and what was happening there and say, Oh, shame on you. But if we don’t have people speaking up before it gets to that point, how are we actually going to change the culture of running? So if our girls have that information, and that knowledge, then I think that that’s the step to changing, but one step to changing the culture in our sport. Yeah.

Robyn 18:59
I think that think trying to think of my, how I would articulate what I do, I feel like to some extent, like what I do as a coach just to put things in place to support my team, where they feel like they have a strong community, they take care of each other, they feel safe, they feel driven by other things external to just times, places and championships. So I try to create that sort of environment in my on my team, or help the girls create that empowered them to create that environment. You know, I as head coach, like, I’ve said this to other folks, but you know, I love what Marie does with her, the girls talk and I’ve kind of took it for granted that I’m a female head coach, that the girls could just come and talk to me about these things, but I had to be more intentional and creating a space for those conversations. But as a head coach, it’s difficult. I mean, I wear a lot of hats and I’m doing a lot of stuff and I’m It’s an important piece. So I was lucky this year to have an athlete who took on the girls talks for me, she said, Robin, I want to do it because she was inspired by Marie. And she said, and I sent this girl all of to one of Murray’s sessions to learn how to do girls talk, and her and I collaborate, but she’s in charge of it. So I think just, you know, and then I think it’s even my philosophy is, if it comes from the girls, that the likelihood of it meaning being super meaningful, is even greater, right? Because it’s them bringing it to their peers. So I try to behind the scenes pull strings where I can to, like, kind of help create so that, you know, I, the best I can do is try to role model the behavior that we’re asking our other coaches to do. And I always say, I don’t have all the answers. You know, but I want the best for my girls and what is the best for my girls? And I you know, I have a daughter like you do care that’s. And Marie has a diamond we have you have kids, and I think when you have kids, it you have to you have to have kids, but when you do have a kid, I think it gives an extra sense of like, I’m creating this not just for all the girls, I coach, but for my kid, I want an environment where she feels empowered, where she feels confident. And that’s totally an extra motivator for me.

Kara 21:24
And I know, Robin, you’re mentioning girls talks on our list. Oh, yeah, maybe I don’t know what that is. Oh, Marie, you could explain what a girl’s tacos. Yeah, great.

Maria 21:33
So a girl’s talk is basically coming together, bringing the team together, it doesn’t necessarily have to be track or running or cross country. But bringing the girls together with their coach or some sort of leader could be an athlete like Robin uses with her team, all of but really just talking around critical topics that are important to your team, whether it’s team culture kind of things, whether it’s navigating puberty, red s, having periods, maybe some nutrition, talk, anything that you feel is really critical. But we’re so used to coaches talking to their athletes giving this information and then walking away. And girls really need and want that time to process. And so girls talk is really set up, you know, I’ve been a teacher for 19 years. So it’s really set up with a strategic kind of plan that allows them to have conversations around the topic. And my belief is, if they’re vulnerable, they’re going to get to know each other, love each other, except each other understand where each other have been. And that’s going to create such a bond, I think girls really need that vulnerability to connect where maybe don’t want to be stereotypical. But maybe you guys don’t need it as much as girls. And so just giving them this 30 to 40 minutes just to talk. And within the conversation, I try and ask questions to kind of gear them in certain directions where I want them to go without feeling like I want them to say certain things. And then in that regard, they just get to connect around a topic that’s really important to them.

Kara 23:03
So great. And I feel like that is just such a neat practice within any sport right outside of even running of having an opportunity for kids to talk. I know I did a version of it. When I was coaching fifth grade basketball for my daughter. We did a three minute chat at water break. That’s awesome. That adoptable version.

Maria 23:24
Yeah. And Robin and I have talked about bringing our teams together because we’re like maybe that will create a whole new dynamic, right? And, and you get some girls who will never say a word, but they’re listening. And when they’re listening, they’re the ones that come to you later. And they’re like, hey, actually, you know, I haven’t had my period for three months for and worried about this. And so it just opens up this like new avenue for them to come to you. This new way of talking. That feels pretty amazing.

Kara 23:49
Yeah, it’s so cool. I and one another thing I just love about the two of you. And what you’re doing with Wildwood is there’s simultaneous, like a blending of it all. So it’s not like, I mean, you’re both competitors were the three of us who all competed in college athletics. So there’s, there’s, we’re competitors, too. We’re, you know, the, it’s not like you’re putting that fully out the door. But the investment in the whole athlete and the person and creating team culture and seeing how that all marries together to create a positive experience and create an experience where people want to stick with a sport for a lifetime is just remarkable. And you’re getting to witness that you’re getting to see that play out through the way that you are the way that you practice as a coach and I think sometimes people I don’t know if it seems like sometimes coaches think there’s there’s kind of a choice between one or the other. And I think I love how you demonstrate that they can go hand in hand. And I think it would be interesting for you to just share like a couple things about a couple culture building practices that you have because, again, I think that it’s stands outside of distance running and for coaches of all sports. Yeah, just what what are some of the things that you have found, or that you’ve heard from other coaches or things that have been helpful in building connection and building community?

Robyn 25:14
I’ll start, let’s see, from a culture standpoint, so leader, I guess the the main thing that were one of the main things is, I always tell the girls at the beginning of the season that this is their team. This isn’t my team. So we have like a leadership group, either captains or leadership group, depending on the needs of the team, but they will, they’ll they’re put in place at the beginning of the summer, usually the end of the track season. And they’re, they amongst themselves kind of come up with how they’re going to divvy up the rules based on what we think the team needs support with. But they help facilitate like the goal setting session that we do. So we do goal setting, as a team and as individuals. But it’s important to me that when we set up that goal setting time, I I’ll be there for for a few minutes, but then I leave, and I let them lead the session as leaders and bring the girls together, and they brainstorm. And then they come up with like kind of their operating norms. You know, some of them are bigger goals, but most of them are like process titles. But again, I think that practice of empowering the girls is sort of indicative of how I like to try to lead the team and create that culture go into the competitive side. This is like I had shared this during my presentation in San Francisco. And it’s something I stole from another coat borrowed from another coach coaches at a low high school here in Portland, Ken Martinez, he does this thing called beads, where they give out beads. So they have you have somebody at the two mile mark, capturing the place of every teammate. And then you look at where they finish. And you get awarded beads for how many people you pass in the last mile. So and then. So after each race, that we do this, that we say, okay, Sally earn four bead to earn six beads. So everybody has the opportunity, no matter where they are, it’s actually easier when you’re back of the packer because you can pass more people in across countries to earn something. And then at the end of the season, we do a bead party. And I buy all these beads from Michaels, and we make bracelets and so it’s just a way of kind of instilling the reinforcing the competitive side. But doing it in a fun way that touches everybody on the team, not just the top seven.

Maria 27:35
At Lincoln, I think one of the biggest things that help with the culture of our team is that you know, when we’re at practice, we’re really focused on running. But when we’re not doing our running or workouts or whatever, like when we’re with the kids and other ways we don’t talk about running, like we want to know them as people, as individuals, we want to get to know their whole identity, not just them as runners. And that’s definitely led by our Head Coach Eric Dettman. In terms of like, let’s get to know you in other ways. And I think that’s super powerful, because I think that they feel like, you know, these coaches love us as people as much as or maybe even more than as runners. And so I think that’s a great culture building thing. I think our girls talks helped a lot as well. We also go to camp in the summer for about four days, which I think is a great team building event. And a lot of it’s just like what are going to do next, but a lot of it’s planned as well. And the kids usually you know, they connect with their friends, but then they also reach out more and really connect with kids that maybe they don’t know as well, new kids on the team. And then I think the biggest thing that creates culture is the coaches and, and the coach relationship with the athlete. And so making sure that you have coaches on your staff who are truly there for the right reasons. They’re there for the development of the athlete, the relationship building, they’re not just there for that huge paycheck. But they’re, but they’re really there because they want to support an athlete, they’re not there for their own ego. And that’s one thing I feel really lucky with it at Lincoln is that we have coaches in place, who have that same desire and that same love, but we’re all very different. So kids connect to me differently than they connect to someone else. They have someone that they can find that they like connect to. And it’s amazing to see like, the day before race, who they all gravitate towards, right. And to know that all of them have someone they can reach I think is incredibly powerful. And also as a great culture builder.

Kara 29:36
What do you I had an actual assistant coach coach me at a couple years, maybe like last year, and didn’t know how to there was a lot of interest in sport culture and I’m making some changes within the team but she didn’t have the support of her head coach. And I’m curious if you have any advice either of you would have any advice in that situation where someone sees a change that they need to make, but they’re not getting the support either of their head coach or maybe the athletic director. And how what advice would you give?

Maria 30:08
I mean, I people haven’t, because I’m also an assistant coach. So people have approached me with that way. And I’ve just said, like, if you don’t have the same philosophy, as your head coach, and your head coach isn’t changing, then you’re not in the right spot. And that sounds kind of brutal. But if that coach isn’t willing to change, and they’re not going to value the awesome things that you bring, find somewhere that is, because if you do have these great ideas, and these shifts in culture and these ways to build relationships, then you should be honored in that and find someone who, who wants who wants to take that on and not take it on, but once to embrace it. I don’t know, kind of harsh, but that’s what I think, I don’t know about

Kara 30:45
you, right? How would you know, how would you know, when you bump up against a limit with a head coach? Like what if maybe the head coach is practices are a little off? But then how would like is there is you’re trying to assess that out what advice we

Maria 31:01
had? I think for me, I think it’s based on like, really your intuition like your gut, right? Like how you’re feeling? I mean, you can’t just give up, you have to ask, you have to have conversations. It can’t be just like, Oh, I’m done. Like, it definitely needs to be thought out and talked about and maybe even said, Hey, like, if we’re not going to come to a place, then I might step away, because this might not be the right program for me. But it shouldn’t be just like, a little little thing here or there like Eric. And I like some things we disagree on. But that makes our relationship a lot stronger, right? Because we can hear each other out and learn from each other. But I know that everything I do we have the same philosophy. Right. So I don’t know that line. But I do think you have to work at it first, before you decide to shift.

Robyn 31:45
Yeah, yeah, I would say, for me, like I have core principles that I use as sort of my compass. So community, hard work ethic, and fun are my three. And those are have guided me as far as developing my program and my philosophy as a coach. I was only an assistant coach for a year before I came into the head coaching role. But that first year, when I was an assistant coach, I definitely I would did not agree with a lot of what was going on in the program, which was hard for me. But I took it as an opportunity because it was my first year. So I’m like, I’m just here to learn, just soak things in and process and what and go from there. And but definitely having, like Marie said, having those things that you believe in your core principles or how you your philosophy around coaching, and then in then being able to discuss, well, this is what you would like to have to have happen, or what you see might be helpful to the team. You know, maybe there’s some sort of middle ground that can you know, you can make inroads baby steps, so you kind of give it that effort. And then if it’s but if it’s not working, ultimately, you may have to go somewhere else. But I’m just lucky that it worked out the way it did in my role.

Kara 33:03
Totally. And I’m thinking about the athlete too. So for listeners that might be athletes or in high school athletes. What advice would you give an athlete who is maybe can’t change schools, is in a particular school, and doesn’t doesn’t have an amazing coach like the two of you? Or maybe they are really actively doing things that are harmful or hurtful in their coaching practices. I know that, you know, that was my experience in high school of having coaches that really did a lot of disservice to me as an athlete. And so yeah, what advice for upper listeners that are athletes would you offer,

Robyn 33:45
I have a couple things that kind of come to mind. The first thing is what we saw this happen in in the Midwest, we have this Midwest Wildwood running group. So it was kind of cool, because and all these girls have great have good coaches. I’m not judging their their actual coaches, but they’re from small teams, and they wanted more of a bigger team feel. And they thought, why can’t we all get together, do runs where we, you know, long runs together, do fun activities together. So in the short term, girls may not be able to find exactly what they need as far as community but maybe they can find pieces of what they need in other ways that you need in a coach to do it. To be honest, you know, can you do, you know, fun activities on the side with your team? Can you read a book together? Can you can you get those pieces to kind of fill some of that those holes on your own? I would say I feel like it’s a whole a little bit of a different thing to tackle when we talk about coaches that are doing a disservice to the third, there’s some actual things that are happening. I mean, me as a parent, if I would, if I saw I would march into that school and I would hoot and holler I’d be like this. So if I were a girl and I I know it can be difficult, right? Because you don’t want to be the girl that causes a ruckus or have the parent that does that. But it’s for your own happiness, right? You want to have a sometimes you have to go up the chain to have your voice heard. If your voice isn’t going to be strong enough, you need support of others around you. And that may be an athletic director of a parent, or or principal. Yeah,

Maria 35:27
yeah, I agree with that, Robin. And I think that goes back to what we were talking about changing the sport, right? Giving girls a voice to to make changes, and maybe it starts with an honest conversation with the coach like, hey, what you’re saying doesn’t feel good. Either. Your know your messaging is harmful. Using words that kind of talk, talk around that is probably really important. And then if there’s no change, then yeah, I think that you need to make actual steps because you’re right, Robin, like, we want them to feel happy, loved cared for, like, yes, four is about doing your best, maybe even winning, but really, it’s about just continuing to grow and become confident. And if that’s being pushed down, then then what is for right, and so I think it’s important that we try and support the coaches in like, Hey, I would love to see this change. And then if that doesn’t happen, I think you need to go to different levels higher,

Robyn 36:21
because you would do it with a teacher. Right? If you had a teacher that was inappropriate in the classroom, you’d say something.

Kara 36:31
Yeah. Okay, I know, we’re getting probably close to time. Is there anything that anything that we’re missing here that anything that we haven’t covered in this conversation that you feel like it’s important to, to say,

Robyn 36:45
I feel like we’ve covered a lot of great topics. I mean, we could put in a little unselfish plug for some of our events coming up. If that has

Kara 36:55
to do that. I would love for you to put in a plug. I actually don’t know when this will be, you know, this episode released. But I would love for you to put in plugs for what you’re just all the glow

Robyn 37:09
in this joint, probably, I’m assuming may not get released for this. But we have obviously we have our virtual camp that’s coming up the last two weekends of February. So that might be a little tight, tight timeline for that. But if it happens, great. It’s definitely it’s an event where we’re, it was super well received. When we did it. Last year, we had over 300 girls attend some great speakers. And we have kind of a similar lineup this year. So we’re really excited about that for the last two weekends in February. But longer term, we have our girls camp, which I think is going to be another fun event. So that’s going to be the last week in June. We’re planning to go live with registration in the by the end of February. So folks should look to that but that’s kind of a week on the trails. Girls stay in cabins we bring we have camp counselors, we do a lot of fun Wildwood type activities with reflection and girls talks. We have some running involved because we’re at a running camp but the running is that we meet every runner at their level so we have the things that are adjusted based on so we have runner you know girls that have never run before or that are completely new runners. Two girls that are winning the state meet type of runners it’s it’s really spans the, the spectrum as far as ability level. So we really encourage all the girls to to come and participate.

Kara 38:31
Sorry, and then maybe we’ll link the website. Yeah,

Robyn 38:35
yeah, I’ll say that. No, no, it lays down there. So any, any upcoming events they can find on there?

Kara 38:40
Yeah, and I know that you are both very creative, innovative women. So you are continuing to think about and brainstorm ways of bringing this to the public. I love it.

Maria 38:50
And we value your opinion you gave it out graded by Cisco just connecting with you is and with oppo like it’s been amazing. I

Kara 38:58
know. I love it and and as somebody whose daughter has now been twice to Wildwood clinics, she she raves about it. So I think to the point to have if you if you’re an athlete, and you don’t have some of this support within within your own program, Wildwood is an amazing resource to connect with and sync up with to have that additional support and conversation. Well, thank you, Robin and Marie.

Maria 39:24
We got to do this. Thanks for having us.

Kara 39:27
Yes, you’re welcome. If you are interested in Opal and you want to learn more, please visit us at www dot OBO. foon Thanks to David Bazi for editing and Aaron Davison for the apatite original music. See you next time.

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