Who Says His Girls Run With the Best of Them…
By Melanie Cane
Before School of the Holy Child hired Mike Simon to coach the track team in 2013, there was frequent turnover of coaches and little enthusiasm for track or cross-country. Coach Simon has changed all that.
Running and fitness are in Simon’s blood. His grandfather was an Iowa state champion in the mile and two mile, and one of his uncles went to the 1972 Olympic trials in the mile and has been coaching at a high school in Wisconsin for over 40 years. Simon ran track in both high school and at Cortland College. For nearly a decade, he has worked as a personal trainer and track coach. Before coming to Holy Child, he coached Girls’ track and cross-country at Harrison High. He also teaches classes and coaches at Rye Running Company.
Simon, who is still a runner himself, says, “I love and care about all the things I do, but coaching is my passion. It isn’t a job to me; it’s a hobby I happen to be paid for.”
For him, coaching at Holy Child is “a dream come true. I love the kids. I love the administration and athletic department I work for, but most of all I love seeing the improvement, the transition of a program from just okay to good to great, and then maintaining that level.” He added, “I notice those individual improvements every practice, every meet. It’s so thrilling to watch an athlete gain confidence.”
Holy Child Athletic Director Amy Pare says Simon’s confidence and enthusiasm have trickled down to the athletes. “Mike takes coaching very seriously and pushes our girls to do their very best. He is supportive, encouraging, and positive and gets as much joy out of the girls’ improving and achieving personal records as each girl does. He has done an incredible job with our cross-country, indoor, and outdoor track and field programs.”
Simon was thrilled that the indoor track team broke so many team records and he is excited and optimistic about the upcoming outdoor track season. Besides going to practice every afternoon, he plans different practices each week and tries to figure out the best way to help each athlete improve. “Each girl needs different things and it is my job to figure out the best way to deliver those things to them.”
This season, Simon’s third as coach, there are 25 girls on the Gryphons’ outdoor track team, including two eighth graders and six shot putters.
Their first meet is March 21 against Iona Prep.