DURHAM, N.C. – Head Duke women’s cross country coach Rhonda Riley begins her second year as a head of the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Female Coaches Mentorship program.
Riley, along with Angelina Ramos, Janine Kuestner and the USTFCCCA, started the program two years ago. The program is designed to increase the representation, depth of knowledge and advancement of female coaches in the field of NCAA cross country and track and field coaching in positions at every level.
As a founder of the USTFCCCA Female Coaches Mentorship program, what is the main goal of this program and how can it help others?
RR: The main goal of this program is to empower women to help each other and retain more female coaches in the cross country and track and field profession. There are many females who want to give back and help the younger generation of coaches and this is a great opportunity for that to happen.
What made you and the other co-founders start this mentorship program two years ago?
RR: Angelina and Janine have been great to work with the past two years. We all agree that having mentors has really impacted our growth as coaches. We came up with a way to pair veteran coaches with younger coaches wanting a mentor and giving them a structure in which to connect and help each other as coaches. I’m very grateful USTFCCCA CEO Sam Seems gave us the platform to move forward with our ideas and begin this mentorship program.
What expectations/goals do you have for this program in five years?
RR: We have capped the program to 30 mentors and mentees for now. It is our hope to expand this program in the upcoming years and have more women want to be mentors. Last year we received a lot of positive feedback in how the mentors really made a difference for their mentees. I’m excited to watch this program develop and continue to make a difference in the coaches who want to give back and for the coaches who are looking to grow professionally.
Riley begins her fourth year at the helm of the Duke women’s cross country team. The Blue Devils begin the season at the Elon Opener on Friday, August 30.