Friday, February 3, 2012

Mentorship & Coach Q

Coach Q
I've been thinking a lot about mentorship.  I really believe that it is one of the most important things to have in your life, for your personal path and your career.  I have had a series of great mentors in my life... my parents are my constants, I had great coaches and teachers in high school and college, and I even have close friends who are my mentors in their own way.  We stay in touch, mainly through Facebook, but I know if I ever need them, they are there.

It's important to have people who believe in you, especially when you're about to give up on yourself.  It's important to have people who set a good example, who achieve their dreams, so you can believe in your own.

I don't talk that much about West Point on this blog... have I ever even mentioned it?  Maybe once or twice.  My four years at West Point were perhaps some of the most formative years of my life.  It is a magnet for great mentors and leadership.  But I may never have gotten there if it weren't for Coach Q.

Coach Jerry Quiller made cross country and track his life... he ran in high school and college, and coached at universities for most of his adult life.  He produced multiple Olympians, nearly two dozen All-Americans, and sent numerous athletes to the NCAA Championships.  He mentored athletes and helped them pursue greatness.  But he was more than just a coach; he was a good man.

Track meets are long! We may have taken some pictures
with Q as he caught a nap...
I was a runner in high school and performed fairly well.  But then I went to West Point for a visit, and I knew that was where I should be.  Coach Q heard of me based on some times I ran my freshman and sophomore years of high school, and he thought I could maybe run at that level again.  Perhaps more importantly, Coach Q thought I would be a good cadet, and he knew what it took to make it through the United States Military Academy.

After receiving a Letter of Assurance from West Point in the fall, I got some bad news in the spring of my senior year: I was medically disqualified from attending West Point.  I couldn't get the usual waiver for my vision; they didn't think my terrible eyesight would be correctable.  I was devastated, and I started making backup college plans.  But Coach Q stepped in and went to bat for me; he made me an official athletic recruit, and he reassured me we could get a waiver.  And we did.

I only ran on the team for two years and was pretty much the slowest girl on the team.  But Q promised I could stay on as long as I wanted, and encouraged me to enjoy being a cadet and pursuing my interests.  I loved West Point, and I really thrived there.  Many of my teammates and classmates had closer relationships to Q than I ever did, but I will never forget how much this one man changed my life by believing in me.  Even though I was never a star, he remembered me whenever we crossed paths.  I knew he was happy to have helped me get into the college of my dreams, and I can never thank him enough or repay him for that.  I don't believe he ever truly recruited me to be a runner; I think he just wanted to make me a cadet, because he saw something in me.
My eyes are closed, but I'm standing with greatness.

We lost Coach Q yesterday, after a long battle with multiple myeloma.  He was an incredible man, and a true mentor to so many.  I am keeping his wife and sons in my thoughts today, and giving thanks that he cared enough to stand up for me.  I wouldn't be where I am today if not for him.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...