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Coach Profile: Brett Cooper

Coach Spotlight Brett

This week we feature another coach who has played a pivotal role in putting not one, but TWO of our NSW Junior Pathway athletes on to the Australian Junior Team for next month's World Championships in Hamburg.

 

Brett Cooper juggles a demanding full time job and a family, with coaching a group of brilliant young men and women as part of Velocity Tri Squad, alongside his co-coach Erica Galea. Brett's selfless investment of time and energy is a big reason why his athletes Emma Olson-Keating and Alex Field will have the honour of wearing the green & gold and line up against the world's best.

 

Read on to learn a little bit about Brett- the coach, mentor and person.

 

 

TriNSW: What inspired you to get involved in coaching?

The combination of my love of the sport and a strong desire to share my knowledge and help others achieve their goals inspired me to get involved in coaching. I wanted to make a positive impact on people's lives by guiding and supporting them through their journey. Witnessing the transformative power of triathlon, both physically and mentally, motivated me to become a coach and help others experience the same sense of accomplishment and personal growth that I have found in sport.

In terms of triathlon, I was first inspired by a passionate individual wearing a South Sydney supporters hat who sparked my interest in the sport. This encounter ignited my desire to delve deeper into the world of triathlon and eventually led me to become a Triathlon coach when I joined him as his assistant. No guesses, Mick Delamotte has been a tremendous influence and mentor in my triathlon coaching journey. Working closely with him over the years has provided me with invaluable learnings that have contributed significantly to my personal success and the success of my co-coach, Erica Galea. Mick's guidance, expertise, and unwavering support have shaped our coaching approach and helped us develop a deep understanding of the sport. We are truly grateful for the impact Mick has had on our coaching careers and the achievements we have attained under his guidance.

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TriNSW: You’ve got a background in elite sport yourself. Talk to us about what you brought from these experiences into your role as a coach?


My past experiences as an athlete have brought several valuable insights and lessons into my role as a coach. Firstly, it has allowed me to empathize with the challenges and pressures that athletes face. I understand the physical and mental demands of training and competition, which helps me relate to and support my athletes on a deeper level.

I also believe in emphasizing personal growth and development over solely focusing on winning. Winning for me is not always first over the line, while for most, it would be. It is obviously desirable, but the priority is helping my athletes become the best versions of themselves both physically and mentally. I encourage them to set individual goals, challenge themselves, and continually improve their skills and abilities.

While I view development as an ongoing process throughout an athlete's life, I particularly emphasize the critical stage between ages 14-23. This period is crucial for shaping athletes both athletically and personally. I strive to provide guidance, mentorship, and support during this formative stage, helping them navigate challenges, make informed decisions, and set a strong foundation for their future endeavours.

 

TriNSW: Congratulations on guiding Emma Olson-Keating and Alex Field to Australian Team selection for the World Junior Champs! Talk to us about their growth in the sport since you started coaching and the approach you’ve taken on guiding their development.

 

Emma and Alex have distinct personalities and approaches to the sport, which at times can seem like opposites. However, they both share a common goal of striving to be the best they can be and demonstrating genuine care for others. This shared ambition and their love for others have grown significantly over the past few years, and it's something that we take immense pride in. 

When it comes to guiding their development, I have adopted an individualized approach for each athlete while also fostering a supportive team dynamic. Recognizing their unique qualities, strengths, and areas for improvement,  there is a slight tailoring of training plans and strategies to suit their specific needs.

For Alex, we have a long history going back to an All Schools Australian Gold medal 4-5 years ago. We have focused on harnessing her natural talent and technical abilities. She has shown tremendous growth in her skills, becoming more disciplined and focused in her training. We have also emphasized the importance of maintaining a positive mindset and nurturing her love for the sport. I must admit Alex is probably one of the fiercest and most driven competitors I have come across in my time as a coach.

On the other hand, with Emma, I have concentrated on instilling a sense of self-belief and confidence. She initially struggled with some doubts and lacked the belief in her own abilities at times after some health issues prior to joining us. Through consistent encouragement and constructive feedback, we have helped her develop a stronger mental game and overcome challenges which got her selected last year to Worlds and again this year.  Witnessing Emma’s transformation into a more self-assured athlete has been remarkable and I just love the way she goes about her life now.

Throughout their journey, I have also encouraged them to support and inspire each other. Despite their differences, Emma and Alex have developed a mutual respect and understanding. They have learned to appreciate each other's strengths and provide assistance when needed. This collaborative spirit has not only enhanced their individual growth but also has contributed to a positive team dynamic.

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TriNSW: Talk to us about the group environment and culture that both yourself and Erica Galea have created within Velocity Tri Squad.

 

Within Velocity Tri Squad, both myself and Erica Galea have fostered a group environment and culture that prioritizes collaboration, growth, and support. Erica Galea, as co-coach, has proven to be an exceptional leader, always eager to learn and improve her coaching abilities. Her dedication and passion serve as an inspiration to the entire team (including myself), making her the glue that keeps us all together. Additionally, Erica serves as an incredible role model for the kids, instilling values of hard work, perseverance, and sportsmanship.

One of the key aspects of our group environment is the appreciation for each individual's strengths. We recognise that every athlete brings unique talents and abilities to the team, and we encourage them to embrace and showcase those strengths. By fostering an environment of appreciation and respect, we create a space where athletes feel valued and empowered.

The involvement and support of parents are crucial to the success of our program. Without their commitment and understanding, we would be unable to provide the necessary guidance and opportunities for their children. We firmly believe that a partnership between coaches, athletes, and parents is essential for the holistic development of young athletes.

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TriNSW: What do you see will benefit our NSW junior triathletes in the future and build upon the success we are currently seeing within the development program.

In order to benefit our NSW junior triathletes in the future and continue building upon the success of the development program, there are a few key areas to focus on.

Firstly, nutrition and injury prevention should remain a top priority. Many athletes' journeys end prematurely due to overtraining or lack of proper nutrition. By providing ongoing education and support in these areas, we can help ensure that athletes have the knowledge and resources to stay healthy and perform at their best.

Parent education is also critical. Parents play a significant role in the development and support of young athletes. By providing them with the necessary information and guidance, they can better understand how to support their children's athletic endeavors and help create a positive and nurturing environment.

TriNSW Coach Education and Pathway Lead, Robyn Low-Hart, has done an excellent job in filling the shoes of Mick Delamotte and maintaining the program's success. This should continue to be valued and supported.

It is also so great to see both the Billigence Pathway Series and the Australian GPT Series (thanks to Corey Bacon) providing regular race opportunities for our juniors to develop their skills in various formats, preparing them for National and International racing should they choose to go down this path.

 

 

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