The start of my 2nd year as a paid coach, this guy showed up at my door.
At that point, I had coached one 800 meter pro in Mark Wieczorek.
I asked Jesse Williams, the head of Brooks Running sports marketing at the time, if he thought Nick Symmonds was the best move for the team, not because I was genuinely curious, more because I was afraid. Working with a star high profile athlete is a dream, but also a lot of work, and a risk.
Nick was all three.
A week after signing with the Beasts, he was still living in Oregon and called to say he was hurt. And that was the 2014 season; a 31 year old star injured athlete.
In the fall, I went and stayed with him, I wanted to see first hand how this guy ticks, what are his drivers. They were lucid. He wants to win, he wants to change the current financial system in track.
The start of 2015 was ugly for Nick. He raced a 3k…very averagely. But them momentum was starting. All a champion needs is the slightest crack in the door.
Then he finally moved to Seattle and stayed with me when the outdoor season started. This time is what I will cherish the most. I could not believe how much he trusted me, nor could I believe how much he trusted himself. He said, “if I do X, Y, and Z, I’ll win the title, it’s that simple coach.” This picture was the result:
He ran 3 season’s bests during each round [of the 2015 USA Championships] and won with a 1:44.5. This same day, he decided to fight corruption and collusion of the sport head on. I still do not know if fighting and losing his Team USA spot was worth it, he was improving every week and Worlds was won in a tactical 1:45.8, his type of race. I think about “what if” all the time. But Nick did what he always has done and held his ground. A champion might not be completely fearless, but they sure as hell are bold. Working with someone who is one of the best in the world at what they do is a gift. Working with “The Bison,” we were both IN the peaks and valleys, and I learned WAY more from him than he from me. I got a little glimpse of why Muhammad Ali said, “Inside the ring or outside the ring, ain’t nothing wrong with going down. Staying down is the problem.”
I am thrilled to see what this Champion has in store for his next chapter.