Gilbert Track and Field Coach Amie Schumacher Hopes to Rebuild Program. Story by John Torsiello.
Amie Schumacher always knew that one day she would be coaching youngsters in the sport she loved. The former Holy Cross High School star and Providence College runner is in her second season as mentor of the Gilbert School girls and boys track and field teams.
“Coaching was something I always knew I wanted to do, especially because I majored in education as an undergrad in college and graduate school and knew I always wanted to work with kids,” she said. “I grew up watching my parents coach several track teams, and always envisioned myself being like them when I was older. I also knew that I always wanted running to be a part of my life in some way, and that I wanted to use my passion for this sport to motivate other athletes, even if I wasn’t competitive like I used to be.”
She began her coaching career last year, her first working at Gilbert in Winsted. She was the head coach for the girls program, and when coaching positions were realigned this year she became the head coach of boys and girls for the 2014 season.
“I had been a counselor at running camps for several summers in college, so I knew that this was something I wanted to do once my collegiate running career was finished and I was working in the real world.”
The middle school counselor at Gilbert for grades 7 and 8, hopes to rebuild the Gilbert track and field program, and increase interest in the teams to allow them to be competitive in the Berkshire League.
“I already have a few standout athletes who medaled at the Berkshire League Championship and have qualified for the state class meet this year. I hope that this will also motivate current members of my team to return next year, increase the participation of students already in high school, and encourage upcoming middle school students to join in the spring of 2015.”
Her coaching philosophy is quite simple, “I want to instill an enjoyment of track in my athletes, while also taking the sport very seriously. In the end, I hope that every single one of my athletes improves from the start of the season to the end of the season, and can build on this for the following years.” She also stressed that sportsmanship, leadership, discipline, and camaraderie makes for a better team, better athletes, and better people. “I believe that as a coach I am not only helping my athletes improve in their events, but I am also trying to teach them life skills that they need to become strong, motivated, independent people in high school and beyond.”
Running has always been prominent in Schumacher’s life and she made sacrifices along the way.
“I knew entering high school that I would dedicate and sacrifice much of a `normal’ high school experience to run at a Division I college. It would take discipline, determination, and drive, and that it was not going to be an easy accomplishment. I even knew that sometimes it would be a lonely journey that a lot of people wouldn’t understand. But once I set my mind to something I plan on achieving it.”
Her hard work paid off as she became only the third girl to win a high school New England cross-country championship three or more years, winning her sophomore though senior years at Holy Cross. She was offered a full ride to Providence College in Rhode Island, and realized it wasn’t going to get easier now that she had achieved one of her goals in running, only harder.
“My college experience would be even less `normal’ than my high school one. But I was again prepared to make this commitment, because my parents could not afford to send me to college (especially one as expensive as Providence).”
Her collegiate career was filled with ups and downs, injuries and a few disappointments. But there were highlights along the way, such as making All-Big East in the 1,500-meter run in track and running a personal record of 4:35, and then competing on the varsity for a fifth year in cross-country and making All-Big East, coming in 25th overall in the conference meet, and running in the Division I national championships.
“I also ran on a semi-professional team that was sponsored by New Balance called New Balance Boston for a year when I was in graduate school and my eligibility had run out for Providence. I ran well and ran as a pacer a lot while running for NBB before an injury and sickness forced me to make a choice: Finish grad school and move on from running or drop out of grad school and pursue a professional running career.”
She continued, “This was obviously not as easy choice, because I lived and breathed running for so long, and it was what had come first for so many years. However, the thing that I take away from both my high school and collegiate careers is that sacrifice, competitiveness, and dedication can sometimes come at a price.”
She was exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally from 11 years of “aggressive” running, and finally realized was time to move on and “start learning how running fit into my life in a different way so I could get back to being healthy.”
She said she misses competition at times, “but in the end, I take that drive, dedication, and determination I’ve always had as an athlete and apply it to my job as a counselor here at Gilbert, as well as my job as a coach. I wouldn’t ever regret the choice I made, because I achieved a lot as an athlete, and now want to be able to help other athletes achieve their goals.”
Schumacher hasn’t stopped running, and has resumed training for the Hartford half marathon that will be contested in October.
“I have been sidelined on and off by injuries for the past year and a half so my goal is to be able to run a marathon within the next two years. I hope that eventually I will also get back into being competitive in 5K road races, but I don’t foresee myself stepping back on the track any time soon.”
The Avon resident believes she is in a good place at Gilbert.
“Being part of the Gilbert family has been a wonderful learning experience, even though it wasn’t necessarily where I saw myself ending up when I graduated from Providence and moved home from Rhode Island. However, I am very grateful that I was given the opportunity to be a part of the Gilbert School.”