Ipswich ‘coach of the year’ builds stronger mentor networks
FOR an elite, innovative coach with so many fresh ideas, Stacey Taurima has a major overriding goal.
"We need to get our sport back to where it should be,'' he said.
Taurima gets annoyed when coaches focus on their own groups and traditional approaches rather than sharing and expanding their knowledge.
"Unfortunately it's just been in individual silos and everyone seems to think there's a secret sport . . . and no-one wants to share anything.''
That's why the 2020 Ipswich Sports Award Coach of the Year is encouraged by two positive advances he created, hopefully to force some change.
The first was establishing a Coaches Council, which has more than 70 members from around Ipswich, South East Queensland and interstate.
The aim of the council is to support coaches through networking, providing training ideas and a safe forum to discuss issues like mental health, coaching education and dealing with difficult situations.
"Coaching can be quite a lonely and very individual, solo type employment, if you could call it that,'' Taurima said. "And a lot of coaches are just on their own and they have to try and develop their sessions on their own.''
Taurima hopes the support network set up 12 months ago benefits coaches in a range of ways.
"When a lot of the coaches get stuck with things, they can't really go anywhere,'' he said.
"So it's one of those things where we just created our own communities where we can sort of look after each other.
"I actually mentor a helluva lot of coaches and that's usually just because they come to me because no-one is helping them.''
He's seen what is being delivered at different levels of coaching "and there is huge gaps''.
At regional level, he assists top-level coaches like Ipswich Grammar mentor Di Sheppard, a former City of Ipswich Sports Award Coach of the Year.
He is also happy to have active Ipswich and District Athletic Club coaches linking into his shared Coaches Council ambitions.
"The goal is to empower coaches to develop their performance systems,'' he said.
One of his goals is to set up a database providing information on which coaches are working with a particular athlete at a certain time.
Springfield-based Taurima also established the #womenstriplejumpprojectaus to encourage greater participation by women and girls in triple jump.
He's frustrated Australia hasn't had a female jumper represent Australia at the Olympic Games or a world championships for a number of years.
He said some of his international coaching colleagues had discussed how women's triple jumping hasn't evolved.
"When you break it down and have a look at it, you'll notice that the technical model is based on the men's data,'' he said.
Taurima said women's triple jumping shouldn't develop the same pattern as they approach the board with different velocities, don't have the same flight times and are more elastic than men.
"Their actual technique is completely different,'' he said.
"So we've just started developing a technique that actually coaches for a woman.
"Since we've done that, we've had a lot of very good triple jumpers.''
The Level 4 IAAF coach works with more than 30 elite athletes and promising high school students around South East Queensland through his Rogue Athletics Academy based at Springfield.
Taurima has coached at international level since 2015, including being appointed an Olympic Youth head coach.
He's currently on the Athletics Australia coaching advisory panel.
He set up the Rogue Athletics Academy three years ago, regularly training athletes in Ipswich and other South East Queensland venues.
During 2019-20, Taurima coached 15 state and national school finalists in jumps and sprint events.
He was selected as national coach of Australia's World University Championships Athletics team competing in Italy, in July last year.
Apart from his own Academy regulars like Jess Harper (open women's long jump) and Shemiah James (open men's triple jump and long jump), he worked with other athletes on the 54-strong national team.
Among his current exciting prospects is sprinter Zen Clark, son of former Olympic 400m runner Darren.
Although some of his elite athletes have relocated to Melbourne, Taurima continues focusing on what he has learnt over many years since ending his competitive career.
"I wasn't educated here. I was educated abroad so I went through some of the best coaches in the world,'' the former long and triple jumper said.
"So coming back to Australia six years ago and then taking over UQ (program), I found that when I was doing athletics - which was like 20 years prior - a lot of the coaching hadn't evolved.''
He said having experience with overseas coaches, including world renowned Dan Pfaff, confirmed the need for a changed approach.
"There is not one thing that I do in coaching now that I did coming through,'' he said.
"After being with Dan for 10 years, you kind of see things a little bit differently and we would work on 'what does the athlete actually need'?
Opposed to grinding training sessions, he said his approach was almost like a medicine.
"How much do you actually need to prescribe?'' he said.
"It (coaching) has always got to evolve.
"I don't think that it can be fixed to one thing.
"There's many different philosophies.''