Tough transformation from athlete to coach

Kenn Oliver
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Erin Lundrigan's competitive playing days, for the time being anyway, are behind her.
But the 22-year-old - a four-time provincial junior champ and a member of the province's 2009 Canada Games team on Prince Edward Island - has found a way to give back to the sport that gave her so much by serving as coach apprentice for this week's Games.
"I still wanted to be involved at an elite level. I wanted to get here to help the girls as much as I can," says the Burin native who is taking part in a Women in Coaching course through the Canada Games Apprenticeship Program.

She's attended conferences in Montreal and Banff, Alta., learning coaching skills from some of the country's top female coaches, including former women's Olympic hockey bench boss Mel Davidson.

"It's aimed at giving us the lay of the land into coaching in the Canada Games, and hopefully we can become the head coach of our sports."

The transition from athlete to coach has been "pretty tough" for Lundrigan, who admits she didn't full recognize all that coaches do.

"There's a lot of mental game stuff that I realize now is more important than a lot of the technical stuff.

"Personally, now I realize how much time and effort goes into coaching, and not even so much the coaching, but with the parents, the associations and the volunteers."

In order to coach golf at the Canada Games and in national events, you need to be a certified by the Canadian Professional Golfers' Association.

Lundrigan, who is halfway through her engineering degree at Memorial University, doesn't see herself having the time to commit to such an endeavour in the "foreseeable future," but still wants to continue coaching at home.

"I won't be able to come here and be the head coach, but I can still come as a manager and be just as involved. The only thing I wouldn't be able to do is be the one to offer advice when we're actually on the course.

"But this morning, the girls were on the range, I was the one there with them helping them with their swings and getting them ready."

Lundrigan says the close proximity in age between her and Team Newfoundland and Labrador's female golfers - Raylene Mackey, Lorraine Coleman and Jayne Hamlyn, whom she competed against during her junior playing days - has served her well in Sherbrooke.

"They show me a lot of respect; they trust what I know about golf technical-wise.

"The girls come to me with different stuff that they wouldn't with (head coach) Jim (Stick) or other people. It's a different dynamic, so it's good to be able to relate and help the girls in a way that other people can't."

Stick, who has known and coached Erin since she was "knee high to a grasshopper," concurs.

"She works great with the girls - they respect her. She's dedicated to the game," says Stick, Golf NL's only certified CPGA instructor.

"She's put a lot of time and effort into it and we've given her a lot of time and effort and I guess she's pumping some of that back in to help us out."

This will be Lundrigan's and Stick's last summer working together, as Stick is leaving Golf NL to take on an instructor's position with the new Golf Town retail location in St. John's.

"He's been one of the best positive role models in my life in terms of golf. He's always been there. He was my coach for, like, 10 years," says Lundrigan.

"I am gonna miss him when he's gone. It's definitely going to be something to get used to."

Organizations: Canada Games

Geographic location: Montreal, Banff, Sherbrooke St. John's

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