While the athletes may be the ones on the podium accepting the medals, it is often the coaches behind them – inspiring, motivating and challenging – who play a key role in giving them that competitive edge.
Our 2017 Coach of the Year, Jenny Plint, is behind some of WA’s top beach athletes with her athletes taking out 32 medals at this year’s SunSmart WA Surf Life Saving Championships. We spoke to the friendly face behind some of the State’s best “beachies”.
Q. What inspired you to get involved with surf lifesaving?
A. I met a cute boy who was a surf lifesaver, who is now my husband! Jeremy has been at Sorrento since he was six and has been a constant member, everyone knows him and loves him at Sorrento and he introduced me down there when I was 20.
It seemed like such a great atmosphere and once I joined up, I got involved in the beach events, as my husband’s sister Stef said they needed another relay runner. I never did athletics or sprints at school – given I got told I looked like a baby horse when I ran – but running on the sand suited me and the team was awesome and I fell in love with everything about surf lifesaving!
Since having kids, I have realised how important it is for them to have surf skills, plus surf lifesaving provides a great environment with plenty of good role models.
Q. What is your favourite movie quote?
A. “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get!” and it’s completely true, you have to make the most of whatever you get given in life.
Q. What does surf lifesaving mean to you?
A. Surf lifesaving is so ingrained in our life; it really feels like part of the family for us and so do the people at Sorrento, it really is a great club. I couldn’t imagine our life without being down there six days a week!
Surf lifesaving is an Australian icon, and it is so important to give back to the community and help make our beautiful beaches safe for everyone to use. I also love how many young people are involved and volunteer their time to patrol the beach and turn up to training even when the conditions aren’t great. It just shows such great character at such a young age.
Q. What are your favourite things to do on your weekends/outside of surf lifesaving?
A. There are weekends without surf lifesaving? Haha! I play netball in the winter and so do my girls. I also love catching up with friends and family and spending time with Jez and our kids.
Q. If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play you?
A. Oh geez! That is a hard one. I relate a lot to Mila Kunis’ character in Bad Moms, but probably Charlize Theron; she is tall and seems to just get on with things and seems to be a bit of a bad ass, if you ask my team I think I scare most of them.
Q. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and how would you use it?
A. Flying would be pretty cool, but probably something more practical like being able to heal injuries or sickness would be better!
Q. What is the funniest memory you have from your time with surf lifesaving?
A. There are too many to mention, and probably a few I cannot re-tell! The general banter at training is always entertaining. I feel Jez is definitely involved in all of my funny memories, he is hilarious.
Q. What’s your greatest achievement and how has it shaped you?
A. That my two children are still alive, haha! In all honesty, it sounds cliché, but having kids has really shaped me as a person, you always think of them first and about how I act and what role models you would like them to have growing up. Basically, making sure that both Jez and I can help shape them into the best people they can be; we both see surf lifesaving playing a big part in this. Jez and I assist in their age groups and seeing them have fun with their friends and love being at the beach is fantastic.
As for surf lifesaving, seeing all the team I coach do so well, from winning national titles to something as small as coming in one place better than last year at States, it makes me really proud of them. It’s nice to think I have helped or contributed in some way.
Obviously winning Coach of the Year this year was a huge achievement as well and it was nice to be recognised for doing something I enjoy.
Q. What values has surf lifesaving taught you?
A. Responsibility, perseverance, dedication, patience, negotiation, conflict resolution and teamwork. You need these things to be able to get your Bronze Medallion and patrol at the beach, and this flows on into training and coaching, as well as everyday life.
I think it is evident in the teenagers I coach that surf lifesaving helps to produce well-rounded and productive members of society. I often get asked how I coach teenagers and my response is always that I have never come across a bad kid in surf lifesaving.
Q. If you could speak to everyone in the world at the same time, what would you say?
A. Let’s be more tolerant; it’s ok for people to not be like you, to not have the same values and beliefs. If we all did this there would be a lot less conflict in the world! At the end of the day we are all the same species.
Q. What is one piece of advice you have for younger members of surf lifesaving?
A. Keep on trying, don’t give up and find a good mentor or coach who believes in you and will help you improve in even the smallest ways!
Over the last 10 years I have seen kids who, for a few seasons, never make a final and then suddenly grow and get stronger and next thing you know they are winning Aussie and World titles. Jackson is a great example of hard work paying off and he now helps to mentor younger athletes. And of course, remember to have fun – we get to be on the beach all summer with our friends, not a bad lifestyle if you ask me!
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