Today’s blog is from recent Sports Journalism graduate, Jayden Wiliams. Jayden, 21, is from Luton and has been an Active Luton member for five years. He is also an athlete coached by our Outreach and Communities Manager, Catrina Lewis, in her capacity as an athletics coach.
Catrina’s ME TIME team has just won a national Sporta Award and was also shortlisted for a Women’s Sport Trust Award. Jayden interviewed Catrina for his final year degree project.
Unsung Hero by Jayden Williams
The playwriter George Bernard Shaw once said, “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach”. There may be some truth in that but we have to be careful of allowing the saying to undermine the skills of those who teach. Especially in the case of Athletics Coach Catrina Lewis (also Outreach and Communities Manager at Active Luton).
Catrina laughed as I asked her if this applies to her, agreeing with it to a certain extent. However, it’s clear that she believes in her case it is more the fact that she didn’t have an opportunity to take her athletic talent to a higher level, rather than her not possessing the ability. Growing up in a troubled West Belfast, she was always against the odds of achieving her full potential. “I couldn’t really get to take part in out of school activities,” she said. “Therefore even though I might have been a good runner at school I didn’t really have the chance to go to an athletics club until I was about 15. It was then that I had to walk to the other side of Belfast to join an athletics club.”
Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to stay there for long. Soon after joining she moved to England to get away from the conflict but her lack of networks combined with her lack of confidence in her new surroundings unfortunately spelt an end to her hopes of becoming an elite athlete.
Spontaneously taking up coaching after her daughter’s coach decided to quit, I doubt she knew 20 years later she would still be coaching and contributing to so many young athletes’ successes.
Asking Catrina what she thinks makes a good coach, she replied: “The drive and passion to care for what they’re doing. You have to want to do it, which means turning up all the time, in the cold, in the warmth, with no athletes, with lots of athletes. Also having a genuine care for the ones you’re coaching is fundamental.”
Having the privilege of being coached by Catrina myself for five years, I believe she had just described herself. Unintentionally outlining the qualities she possesses. People are quick to forget that with every athlete putting in the hours no matter what the circumstances, equally comes their coach right by their side.
She doesn’t seek praises or applause for the work she does, she is the definition of unassuming. Catrina coaches not to get anything back but solely to give.
“I get my satisfaction from seeing people having the opportunity to take part in a physical activity that beneficial for them. To see people progress in their confidence and self-esteem across social barriers is important to me. I’m very passionate about people not being limited because of where they live, their social background or any kind of barrier,” she said. “I don’t believe that should exist and I think sport is a tool that we can use to cross those boundaries. I’m really passionate about giving everyone the opportunity to take part and will always work out a way for someone to do so.”
Year after year she produces athletes that go on to represent their towns, counties and even countries and whilst they may not be household names, they have the potential to be the stars of tomorrow.
As for the stars of today they rightly get the credit they deserve for their sporting achievements but even the best have to be taught by someone. When the elites go up to receive their awards they are quick to congratulate the work of their coaches for they know without doing so their work would go unnoticed.
If any of Catrina’s athletes go on to be elite athletes’ I have no doubt they will be the first to give her the credit she deserves.