Veronica Tearney, Director of Strength & Conditioning (Nutrition and Spirit Program) at Syracuse University
I first began coaching in 2000 as a graduate assistant coach in the strength & conditioning department for track and field at Syracuse University. Over the last 20 years I’ve had experience working with a variety of sports, including swimming, lacrosse, tennis, soccer, and ice hockey.
Through strength and conditioning I consistently and repeatedly challenge student-athletes to push through their physical limits to achieve a higher level of athletic fitness. During these workouts, walls come down and a level of vulnerability is revealed. As a coach, this gives me an opportunity to impart information, advice, and let them know that I care by not just breaking them down physically, but by giving them the tools, information and encouragement to grow from the challenges within each workout.
During workouts I also get to hear about what’s going on in their lives outside of athletics. This is often the most energizing part of coaching for me. The student-athletes help me stay current with the pulse of this generation, and I can help them connect many of the principles of training, competition, and athletics to overall life success.
It’s rewarding to see student athletes be transformed by something they’ve learned from me and implemented into their own lives, as well as hear from former athletes who are still doing the workouts I made for them several years ago.
It has been a challenge, at times, to integrate faith into my coaching. I never want to push someone away or stop someone from coming to me for help because they think I will judge them. It’s also difficult to stay within workplace rules and regulations when there is no clear line between doing or saying what’s spiritually right versus what’s permitted. FCA is a visible resource of support. The coaches’ huddles are a starting point for conversations among co-workers and other believers. They provide me with a safe space to air frustrations and share my fears, failures, and victories.
FCA has provided a different experience from what I expected. What I thought would be a rigid Bible study fellowship was instead a network of encouraging believers with a shared passion for athletics and lifelong, life-changing friendships.
It is rewarding to see athletes with no solid foundation of faith slowly transition from finding fun and acceptance from alcohol and unhealthy relationships, to realizing joy and fellowship through faith in Christ. I hope my legacy will be that I cared more about the person inside the athlete, than the athlete inside the person.
Since 1954, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes has been challenging coaches and athletes on the professional, college, high school, junior high and youth levels to use the powerful medium of athletics to impact the world for Jesus Christ. FCA focuses on serving local communities by equipping, empowering and encouraging people to make a difference for Christ – to see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes.
More information can be found at FCA.org.