A Model of Focusing on Her Goals and the Work Ethic To Achieve Them
By Tom Cross & Tom Ward
Published: Summer 1996
Ashley began her high school athletic career during the summer after her eighth grade by attending “Irish summer Pride” (the name given to workouts that Bishop McGuinness holds for all of their students). These workouts which are for all students from grades 7 through 12, are conducted by coach Tom Ward. Coach Ward, a former college player of the author’s is the football and speed/strength coach at Bishop McGuinness High School in Oklahoma City, OK. His program is based on squats, power cleans, jerks, and snatches, along with plyometric and running drills. Ashley attended to “get in shape for basketball.” She has obviously been successful with getting in shape, but has yet to play any high school basketball.
When I asked Ashley about her future plans, she immediately answered, “I plan to take running as far as running can take me.” Of course, the immediate goals are to be the best she can be both in academics and in athletics during her high school career. But running in college is definitely a goal, and her coach is slowly increasing the volume of her training. Academically. Ashley is looking at several things in the medical field (her father is a medical doctor), but has no definite plans yet. She just wants to enjoy her high school career.
Cross-country running is Ashley’s favorite sport but she also enjoys competing in the mile and she even has a secret desire to compete sometime in the 400 meter run. Ashley also enjoys weight training. Her favorite lift is the squat but she also acknowledges the benefits of the power clean in developing speed. She thinks the Olympic lifts are the most productive part of her lifting program and believes the mental challenge to be the important contribution to her competitive efforts in running.
In talking with Ashley about her hip flexor injury last fall, she believes it was an over-use problem. She switched to a swimming routine for most of her conditioning work. Gentle stretching, easy running, and continued weight training at low intensity was also a part of the rehab program. Ashley trains 40 weeks a year with 6 weeks off following each competitive season. Her current program involves running approximately 20 miles a week done in the morning before school. In the afternoon she does her lifting and some bike work. When the competition begins, the intensity of the weight training will drop as the intensity of the running increases. In December, Ashley was one of 80 runners in a group of athletes participation in the World Sports Exchange Program. These kids paid their own way so there was an obvious commitment involved. They ran each morning in Hyde Park, London, England; participated in two competitions, and attended several training seminars. The most impressive thing about the seminars for Ashley was the emphasis which the British coaches placed upon the Olympic lifts. In her conversations with others on the trip, she found very few who were involved in weight training of any type, and almost none using the Olympic lifts to enhance performance in running events. One thing that was common among the participation was the strong sense of team unity that many coaches build and is a trademark of Bishop McGuinness High School.
Ashley is known for her ability to focus on what is important and keep the peripheral from interfering with her goals. Both of her coaches speak of her work ethic, which her mother received from her father. She enjoys a strong family life with her two younger sisters, both of whom are involved with running and basketball. Ashley’s mother gives a lot of credit to the Catholic education and the values which her girls have learned from that environment. She does not work outside the home, but gives herself completely to educating and supporting their children and activities. They openly discuss right and wrong as a family and find it works well for them. Ashley quickly acknowledges the support she receives from her family and appreciates what Mom and Dad have sacrificed to help her with her running.
For recreation, Ashley prefers outdoor activities, especially those involving family and friends. Like all teenagers, she must deal with peer pressure involving training rules, drinking, and other bodily abuse. Since most know of her stand, she gets a lot of kidding about her lifestyle. Those who know her best are confident she handles this challenge well. Track coach David Morton is a believer in weight training, specifically the squats and the explosive lifts. He uses Ashley as a model for other athletes and parents to advertise the benefits of this type of training. When I asked Coach Morton regarding his views of over-head lifts for runners, his reply was the most explosive lifts are the most beneficial, and they all go overhead so we love them!