a good coach will make a great leader

i was browsing fb this morning and was surprised to see that my former coach, denise harlow, had been re-elected to her second term as maine’s house of representatives for district 116. it got me thinking back over our coach/runner relationship and i felt i needed to reach out and send her some thanks and affirmation. the following is that letter. huge congrats to you, denise.


I have to apologize for two things. First, for not keeping in contact for all these years and second, for not realizing the amazing political success you’ve had recently. If I had known you’d been elected to Maine’s House of Representatives, I would have contacted you sooner. The reason I wanted to email you is because I don’t think I every properly thanked you for the huge impact you had on my life between the years of 2004 and 2006. In hindsight, and now in light of your position in the House, I think this email is even more timely and apropos.

I don’t know if you remember how our coaching relationship started, but you reached out to me with some unsolicited advice based on a post on my blog regarding my attempt to achieve a sub-4 marathon. Apparently, you had been following my progress and had seen some mistakes and also untapped potential. Your initial contact was gentle and supportive, inquisitive and informative but most of all, spoke of the confidence that you had in your understanding of our sport.

We entered into the coach/runner relationship with you being the authority, task-master and visionary and me being the clay. I remember many work-outs you scheduled for me that had me scratching my head or really doubting my abilities. The way you encouraged, guided and built trust was what gave me the comfort and belief that I *COULD* do these things. There were many weeks where I looked at the volume of miles and effort that would be required and felt completely dwarfed and insignificant, yet at each step, you were there to remind me that you saw my capabilities and potential and that you knew I’d be more than capable. And, at the end of each week, I would look back on what I had just accomplished in awe and disbelief and in great appreciation of your guidance.

Fast forward to the end of our coaching relationship and I had dropped nearly an hour and fifteen minutes off of my marathon time, qualified for and completed Boston in a fantastic time, learned volumes about my own capabilities, learned volumes about leadership and coaching and had developed a level of confidence that I did not know I could attain.

That is the mark of a good coach. A good leader.

Seeing now that you have transitioned into a role of public service gives me great excitement and hope because I know the amazing qualities that you possess as a coach, as a leader. Your constituents are fortunate that they have someone of your caliber representing them, encouraging them, giving them hope, building their trust, having great vision and seeing their potential.

Thank you, Denise, and congratulations on your success. May you have many years to serve, represent and encourage.

2 thoughts on “a good coach will make a great leader

  1. dear amazing and hip coach:
    thank you so much for all of your guidance, encouragement, and caring over the years. thank you for believing in me when i did not believe in myself. thank you for leading me to my bq. and most of all thank you for your friendship.

  2. I love this response. There are so many parallels to how we are the clay for god to mold – if we are willing to be in the Word to get instruction and follow God’s plan even when it is difficult and we have to die to our selfishness that says ‘just quit!’ Without a daily reading of the Scriptures, we begin to lack the encouragement to keep on keeping on and loose both focus and interest in obtaining the goal and relationship with the Coach. Thank you for this reminder also that God sees great potential in me even when I don’t see it myself. He sees the completion… I just have to remain faithful and God will make me more than capable.

Leave a Reply