Sports Person of the Week
Phillips Throws Herself Back into Track as New Indians’ Assistant
Guilford High School social studies teacher and Adams Middle School field hockey assistant coach Stephanie Phillips is the new throwing coach for both the Indians’ boys’ and girls’ outdoor track teams this spring. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Phillips)
Stephanie Phillips was looking to get involved as a track coach when she joined the Guilford High School community. Stephanie is getting that opportunity this spring as she begins her first year as a throwing coach for the Indians’ boys’ and girls’ outdoor track teams.
Stephanie, a social studies teacher at Guilford, grew up in Madison and competed in cross country and track for Mercy High School. Since becoming a teacher in Guilford three years ago, Stephanie has also served as an assistant coach for the field hockey squad at Adams Middle School. However, Stephanie was always keeping her eyes peeled for any coaching openings in Guilford’s track program and, when girls’ outdoor Head Coach Jon Rivera told her about the throwing-coach position, Stephanie went for it.
“When I came here three years ago, I asked Jon Rivera to let me know if anything popped up. He then let me know about this opening, I applied, and got the job,” Stephanie says. “I’m looking forward to teaching the skills I was taught in action. I will be concentrating on drills to help them master the basics, before the next step.”
Track and field features an interesting dynamic with athletes competing in individual events to contribute points toward their team’s overall total. Stephanie says that no matter what level of success her athletes are striving toward, they’re doing so for the good of the team, and she knows that progress doesn’t come without plenty of diligence.
“Track is a team sport. It individualized, but you work together to help the team. You also have to practice to get better,” says Stephanie. “I like to hammer home the basics. With a lot of the technical throwers, we will record videos of their throws in order to improve them. It’s about putting in the practice you need in order to get to that next level.”
Stephanie feels good whenever she sees her athletes reap the benefits of their effort. That’s something she wants to see a lot of as she works with the Indians’ throwers and helps them with the technical aspects of their events.
“I love being able to see the kids succeed for themselves,” she says. “The throwing motions can be super awkward at first, but when they realize what is going wrong and then seeing their excitement when they hit that first distance they want is great. It’s also great to just be around that team environment as a coach.”
Guilford’s boys’ and girls’ outdoor track teams will typically be competing at the same venue on the same day. For the situations where the two schedules don’t sync up, Stephanie already has a plan in place.
“Most of the meets are co-ed this year, but some aren’t, so I am making sure I put together a routine they can follow when I’m not there,” says Stephanie. “The challenges are going to come from making sure they know exactly what to do and keeping in communication with both head coaches.”
According to Guilford boys’ outdoor track Head Coach George Cooksey, Stephanie has the ideal mentality to tackle that type of workload. Cooksey says that Stephanie does a great job of staying on point with all her pupils, both as an athletic and academic mentor.
“Stephanie approaches her work as a true professional. She has devoted hours to studying each of the throwing events and the training techniques and drills necessary to build skills in each event,” says Cooksey. “She possesses remarkable organizational skills, which enable her to break things down for our athletes into manageable learning and training experiences. Stephanie has taken initiative in creating workout sheets for athletes to chart their progress in the weight room. Most importantly, she brings a refreshingly positive attitude to the team. She clearly loves working with the athletes on the team. The same qualities that make her a great teacher make her a great coach.”
Coach Rivera adds that Stephanie has hit the ground running with her new position in Guilford. While Stephanie is currently working with the throwers, Rivera expects her to contribute to the program in a variety of ways as time goes by.
“She has worked hard since agreeing to do the job with very little turnaround time. She comes from a running background in the sport, but was willing to step up and really help us out by covering this event area,” Rivera says. “This experience will make her a more well-rounded coach going forward, able to coach many events.”
As she begins her new endeavor with the Indians, Stephanie is not only aiming to help her throwers reach new milestones, but also cultivate a great atmosphere that attracts more people to the program and keeps them entrenched in track and field.
“I would like to build up the throwing program, especially on the girls’ side, because many times throwing can be seen as a boys’ sport, and I want to build up their confidence in throwing,” Stephanie says. “I want to keep building up the group to the point where the freshmen then keep coming back each year. I also want to help develop each athlete and help them get the skills they need to get distances they want.”