Chance led Tanica Jamison into the coaching world—the chance college swimming head coach Jill Sterkel, took on mentoring and improving her as an athlete, that is. “I am truly grateful for all she showed me,” Tanica says. “A lot of what she taught me I still use with my athletes today. And if it were not for her leadership, I would not be coaching today.”
Fast-forward to 2011, when Tanica joined the Texas A&M swimming family as the women’s assistant coach, under the leadership of Steve Bultman. Her first season with the team ended with a Big 12 Championship title, and since that time, she helped the Aggie’s transition into a new conference and place fourth at the 2013 NCAA Championships to match their highest national finish ever.
As an assistant coach, Tanica understands her role and is attentive to the team’s needs. Part of this is due to her deep swimming background, which stretches back to when she was an eight-year-old member of the Norwin Aqua Club in Irwin, Pa.
“I try to put myself in their minds and feel what they are feeling to help correct and communicate the changes that need to be made with their strokes,“ she says.
In the years ahead, Tanica is passionate about advancing her career. She knows she must pay her dues to the sport, but her love for inspiring young people and helping swimmers reach their athletic and life goals pushes her to keep moving forward. “Right now [at Texas A&M] I’m trying to learn as much as I possibly can… because eventually, I will have a head coach position,” she says.
Her advice to future women coaches? “Know what level you want to coach, learn how to start networking early, ask for help…but most of all be yourself.”
Tanica’s 5 Keys to Coaching Success
- Wear your heart on your sleeve. “I am 100 percent real with my girls, and I believe that authenticity goes a long way.”
- Surround yourself with your peers. “This is the best way to improve as a coach. Bounce sets, ideas, technique or drills off one another. Study the success of others and try to implement that into your coaching style and team plan.”
- Learn to appreciate the little things. “Most coaches would list first-place finishes and records as their biggest accomplishments. But for me, it’s seeing the smiles of my athletes once they achieve their goals and seeing the light bulb come on when they finally grasp a concept that we are trying to teach that will always be my crowning achievement.
- Pay attention to form. “Our sport will continue to get faster and faster, but we as coaches need to continue to bring out great results by correcting technique.”
- Get used to a nontraditional schedule. “The hardest part of coaching is not having the normal 9 a.m.-5 p.m. job. We take our work with us on vacation, to the grocery and to sleep. But trust me, in the end it’s worth it!”