Aberdeen athletes compete in the 4J Age Group Champs in August (photo by Bobby Gavin)
It’s Women and Girls in Sport week across Scottish sport at the moment, so we thought we would turn the spotlight on our Community Club Coach of the Year – Nichola Crawford.
The Aberdeen AAC coach emerged from a strong short-list (which also featured Martin Leadbetter of Lothian RC and Stephen Wallace of Cumbernauld AAC) to win the accolade and savoured the presentation at our 4J Annual Awards.
Jo Pavey, another hugely inspirational female in sport, was of course our Guest of Honour that evening.
No sooner had Nichola been in Glasgow for the Dinner than she was back setting up sessions and supporting athletes at competition, including the Lindsays National XC Relays in Perth last weekend.
‘We were urged to nominate Nichola by a host of athletes and parents so it was an easy task to put her name forward,’ said Aberdeen AAC coaching coordinator, James Joy.
‘She does so much work, mainly looking after a big group of primarily 14-17 year-old endurance runners, not only coaching them three nights a week, but also attending competitions almost every weekend.
‘And prior to the pandemic she was one of the driving forces behind the annual schools cross country meeting in Aberdeen which attracted more than 1500 runners each year, making it the biggest event of its kind in Scotland.
Nichola Crawford won our Community Club Coach of the Year title at the 4J Annual Awards (photo by Bobby Gavin)
‘But it was during lockdown that she really responded and stepped up to the plate.
‘She went out of her way to maintain contact with the youngsters using Zoom calls to check on how they were, and to keep them motivated.
‘Nichola organised online circuit sessions which they could do in their gardens. She also set individual and group challenges.
‘As restrictions eased, and working within the guidelines, Nichola set up multiple training sessions across different locations and she established a buddy system to ensure that athletes weren’t training alone.
‘And now that competitions are back on, and the cross country season is underway, she’s always encouraging runners to compete. I am sure we will see high numbers of youngsters representing Aberdeen throughout the winter and much of this will be because of Nichola.’
Nichola admitted she was taken aback when her name was read out as the award winner – and she was quick to highlight the support she receives from others at Aberdeen AAC.
‘Honestly, I was totally shocked. I really didn’t think I’d get it as there are so many people in Scottish athletics doing great work as volunteer coaches.
‘But I have to say that it’s not just about me. I have worked for a long time with John McGregor and without him I couldn’t have done it. Sheena Cooper is also a fantastic help every week. So, we are a team, and that’s why it works.’
With thanks to Fraser Clyne (with a version of this article having appeared in the Aberdeen Evening Express)
— Nicola Moriarty (@NicMoriarty) October 26, 2021
Along similar lines as the above, it has been great to see some of the material promoted on the #SheCanSheWill hashtag across social media channels this week.
Nicola Moriarty coaches teenage girls at Pitreavie AAC and Tweeted about the enjoyment she has had via her own coaching journey.
And Janice Hendrie was another recipient at our 4J Annual Awards when she was presented with her Honorary Life Membership status from scottishathletics.
— Inverclyde AC (@inverclyde_ac) October 26, 2021