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Track coach leads by example
As a Hoya, 26-year-old Monica Hargrove was a three-time All-American with the distance medley relay team. As a coach, she watched Georgetown’s current medley relay team finish seventh at the NCAA Indoor Track Championship last week, earning the same All-American honors Hargrove’s team had won.
“We were all talking about the fact that that was her passage from teammate to coach,” relay team member and senior middle distance runner Nana Hanson-Hall explained. “Now she seems like more of a coach.”
Nearly three years after graduating in 2004, Hargrove is still very much an athlete. She earned a silver medal on the 4×400m relay team at the 2006 Indoor World Track Championships and ran the 400m leg of the world-record-setting United States spring medley relay squad at the Penn Relays last year. This all came after Hargrove graduated and took a year-long break from competition while working full time.
However, she returned as volunteer coach for the 2004-2005 season.
“I hadn’t given it totally up,” she admitted. “It was always in the back of my mind.” She continued to watch races and check progress, especially of former Hoyas.
Last year, Hargrove returned as a full-time coach, began training more seriously and met surprising success when she began racing.
“Last year I didn’t expect it to go as well as it did,” she said. “This year there are more expectations.”
So far, she has met them, finishing second in the 2007 USA Indoor Track Championship and setting two season bests.
But that is not everything that Hargrove has on her plate. She is not only a role model to her team for her success on the track, but also in the classroom as a graduate student studying public policy.
“In a sense, classes enable me to rest,” she said. “It’s my own kind of rest because I have to sit down in one place and work.”
She admits that her life can get busy, and is taking time off of class next season in preparation for the Olympics.
She will continue coaching, something her athletes are thankful for.
“She gives purpose to what we’re doing here,” says Hanson-Hall. “It’s unbelievable how confident it makes us to see someone successful in college and then beyond.”
Hanson-Hall says that she and her teammates are also impressed by her loyalty. “It says a lot that she decided to come back when there are other places she could have gone,” Hanson-Hall continued. “With no one to train with, I really think she helps us more than we help her.”
Hargrove is now running better than at any point in her career and admits some of this strength has come from coaching.
“Now that I am a coach I can understand everything my coach said to me; they are constantly reminding you of things, and now I do the same thing,” she said. “Now I am constantly reminding myself of these things too.”
Hargrove seems to be doing all the right things. She now runs even faster than she did as an undergraduate. As she sticks with the Hoyas, she is confident that her success will continue and her athletes will follow suit.