BRISTOL, Tenn. – In college athletics, coaches use the summer months for many different things. Most coaches will take a vacation and spend more time with their families as well as attend conference to improve their skills of the upcoming season and their careers. King University head track and field coach Amanda Williamson decided on the later as she attended the NCAA Women's Coaches' Academy that was put on by the Alliance of Women Coaches in Atlanta last month.
Attendance at the conference proved to be invaluable for Williamson as she stated there was so much information to take back from just four short days. The relationships that she built with other coaches from around the country along with information she gained about running a program are just a couple of the things she mentioned that will help her grow as a coach.
"My biggest takeaway from the entire week was to have a firm hold on my purpose and my values and to create my team culture around what I value and what my coaching staff's values are," Williamson commented. "Coaching is about relationships. You can have all the x's and o's that you want, but it comes down to building those relationships."
The Alliance of Women Coaches conducts three conferences each year, and the one Williamson attended in Atlanta consisted of 41 head and assistant coaches from all over the country across all three NCAA divisions. Williamson had applied to attend the conference for the past three years until getting accepted this year. She was also awarded a $2,000 scholarship from the Alliance of Women Coaches to be in attendance in June.
"Everyone was there for completely different reasons, which is why it was so great. We hit so many different topics that everyone got out of it what they were personally seeking," Williamson continued. "Overall, the support of the women that have gone before that can help lead the rest of us. I personally felt that support."
One of her favorite parts of the week was the DISC evaluation, which stands for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientious or Compliance. This exercise evaluates the coaches on how they like to be and adapt.
"The DISC evaluation was a lot of fun and very insightful, and is an area that I definitely want to look into more," said Williamson. "That was a lot of fun, you found out how you like to behave, and you also learn that in coaching you are also going to have to adapt to other coaching styles. I'm an S."
Williamson also stated that all the sessions where great, but if she had to pick a couple that she thought were the best were the two sessions by Missouri State University head softball coach Holly Hesse. These two sessions were about managing your program.
"I took to those very well. I'm very logistical and a lot of what she went over was how she runs her successful program," commented Williamson. "She provided us with so much material, and just to be able to take that away and modify it for myself is very beneficial."
Building relationships at the conference and continuing them was also a huge takeaway for Williamson. She said there are approximately 1,200 graduates from the program. The graduates are called peeps and when coaches graduate on the final day, they are put into what are called peep circles that help connect a small group of coaches after the conference.
"They keep the connection going and you know that you have a small circle of women that we can discuss anything that we need to, or ask for advice, which is really helpful for me" Williamson said.
As far as what Williamson is going to bring back to King track and field this year, she wants the entire team to work toward a goal and have everyone on the same page to achieve this goal.
"I'm going to bring a lot more knowledge, just general knowledge of how to manage my program and my staff," stated Williamson. "I want to bring to the team and the staff that we have a goal and we're going to work toward these goals a certain way. I want everyone on the team, athletes and coaches to work toward the same goal and have these values in mind, and this is the team culture we are going to present to the campus."
Williamson had a great time at the conference and encourages other women to apply and if they have the opportunity to attend, they should.
"Women need to apply and go to the conference, and if they have the opportunity to go, they should go," said Williamson. "This is something that was extremely unique."