Message from Coach Abbi
Chicken Soup for the Sports Fan's Soul opens with a quote I live by, "Sports is life with the volume turned up. Every aspect of my life has led me toward sport psychology and personal coaching as a career. At the age of 13, sitting in a lecture by one of the Olympic Training Center's sport psychology coaches, I realized how easily mental training came to me. Even as a high school senior listening to Urban Meyer, current Ohio State University head football coach, give a motivational speech about mental strength and toughness as a guest speaker at an All-State sports banquet in Ohio, my interest was obvious, but I had no idea you could make a career out of sport psychology. I am now a Board Certified Coach through the Center of Credentialing and Education, Inc. specializing in performance and quality of life coaching. I have extensive knowledge in mental training, quality of life and total development programming. More importantly, I have received incredible guidance in elite programs and have had the opportunity to experience growth and learn under prominent University Administrators.
To give a little more detailed background about myself, I have competitively played basketball, soccer, softball, tennis, swimming, and track, and have dabbled in gymnastics, golf, and volleyball. In swimming, softball, and soccer I have competed and traveled to tournaments at elite levels. I am originally from Lima, Ohio and in high school I played a sport every season and earned a total of 12 varsity letters: 4 in swimming, 4 in soccer, 3 in softball, and 1 in track. In high school, I came across numerous situations that have helped me become a better sport psychology coach. Most high school athletes are dealing with a variety of important, mature, and even political issues within the high school sport environment. In addition to that, I also dealt with being extremely involved and dedicated to one sport in particular, swimming, and having that overlap with my other seasons and teams. I also had to teach myself how to lift weights and train myself to the same level other swimmers in bigger cities were training. I was a two-time State Champion and record holder in the 50 freestyle. Quite frankly, it should have been three times, which is a curveball that still stings and puts a sour taste in my mouth. My sophomore year I came in second by three one-hundredths of a second. That is no more than a fingernail's difference between first and second. Talk about too close for comfort. Dealing with defeat is huge and needs to happen early in athletic careers. If you don't feel that failure early, you never truly learn what it takes to get better and secondly, never full-heartedly appreciate your triumphs. Another issue I faced in high school was that I was attending a smaller school in a not-so-big city and making sure I got a scholarship to a University was a challenge. I was completely in charge of my own recruiting and did not have much help or resources from my high school. All of these situations have given me an edge in coaching high school athletes now.
Throughout college, I gained valuable experience from training and competing at the Division I level in the extremely competitive Southeastern Conference at the University of Tennessee. I was pushed physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually. As an All-American and elected team captain for two years, I was counted on for inspiration, motivation, and guidance while leading my team through triumphs, defeats, and a coaching change. While taking on these responsibilities I was able to help my team ranking improve from 24th to 10th nationally. As my passion and motivational drive were undeniably present, I earned a reputation as an energetic, effective leader with excellent communication skills. In addition, I am driven to learn how to improve and succeed at the highest levels. As far as sport psychology, I saw Dr. Joe Whitney, the Director of Mental Training at UT, every Wednesday. My conversations and experiences with him made a huge impact on my swimming career. We would talk over my race plans, nutrition, school work, sleeping habits, stresses, and anything else that I thought was taking away from my performance. I also discussed leadership, my team and coaches, and what my job was as captain to make everyone perform better and increase team cohesion. Throughout my college career, there were so many ups and downs, new lessons, new experiences and changes that I had to learn from, adapt, and accept in order to be the best I could. One of the most significant experiences was when we had a coaching change right at the beginning of my senior year. Just as I was ready to walk into my last year as a "big dog", I felt like a freshman again, not knowing the coaches or the game plan. Hello from the other side.
When I retired from swimming and was preparing to graduate with a bachelor's degree in psychology, I knew I could not walk away from athletics. I love sports too much to not have it a part of my everyday life. I pursued my master's degree in sport psychology, again at Tennessee. My strengths as an undergrad earned me a position on the University of Tennessee Swimming & Diving staff as a Graduate Assistant where I was given the opportunity to learn as a coach, recruiter, and operations assistant.
My professional experiences have helped me develop a holistic coaching philosophy for student athletes. I was an Academic Advisor Intern in the Thornton Athletics Student Life Center at Tennessee and learned how to use mental training in helping student athletes excel in the classroom. At the University of Pittsburgh as Career and Life Skills Coordinator for Student Athletes, I gained in-depth experience effectively developing the student athlete holistically paying special attention to their professional progressions and life transitions. Working for high profile athletic departments, I have had unique experience in training student athletes for public speaking, television and print interviews as well as overall professional etiquette. As the Director of Student Success at a small private NAIA university, I provided life coaching to young adults enabling their personal growth in order to achieve success.
With the accumulation of my experiences as an elite athlete as well as focusing the majority of my education and professional development on psychology, mental training, performance and life transitions; I am committed to assisting individuals in succeeding in their daily life choices. One of the best things I have discovered through sport psychology is that after learning the mind games we play with ourselves and against others in sports, we can easily adapt what we learn into the game of life. After understanding concepts and skills on the playing field, it is hard not to start to use them on a greater scheme in your everyday life.