Track's Jen Cotten reveals keys to success

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Jen Cotten running Track and Field

Laura Barclay

COTTEN'S CANDY: REPEATED OUA HARDWARE. Multitalented track and field athlete Jen Cotten has taken the OUA by storm with her success in a variety of events.

After winning the Labatt Trophy for Most Valuable Player on the women’s track and field team, Jen Cotten took a moment to answer questions on her year.

What was the key to having such a successful season (individually)?
I experienced the success I did this season due to my teammates’ support, as well as a new perspective on my ability that I recently acquired.

My practices this past season were irregular, and seldom at the same time as the rest of the team due to an interfering class schedule.

It made practices quite unlike [those] I experienced previously, and it really made me appreciate the times when I was with the team, whether at meets every weekend or occasionally at practices during the week.

Track and field is considered an individual sport, but it really is the team atmosphere and collective energy that makes the individuals come out practice after practice and perform at their best.

Besides the avid support from my teammates, I also had a revelation one night while I was sitting in the bathtub: there is no good reason why I can’t jump six metres. I came within two centimetres of that goal the next day at the Don Wright Team Challenge (about 30 cm further than I had ever jumped before).

I have yet to accomplish that simple enough feat, despite my performance that day, and at meets since then, have assured me that it’s not far off. You often hear the old saying, “you can accomplish anything you set your mind to,” but it took on a whole new meaning as soon as I applied it correctly. The mind is capable of so much!

Who has played the biggest role in helping you achieve an elite level of performance?
Coaches always play a huge role in any athlete’s success, and mine is definitely no exception. This year in particular, our head coach Vickie Croley played a pivotal role in allowing me to accomplish what I did.

As I mentioned, my class schedule conflict[ed] with the team’s practice schedule, but Vickie, as well as the other coaches with whom I work, were extremely accommodating and arranged times to meet outside of regular hours in order to get practices in.

What is the most memorable moment in your career at Western?
My hands down most memorable moment over my career here at Western took place at the [Canadian Interuniversity Sport] championships this year. Going into the final event of the women’s pentathlon, the 800m race, I was forecasted to come out on top after a close battle all day; my teammate Shellie McParland, who is finishing up her fifth and final year with the team, needed to run a gutsy race in order to come out with the silver medal.

Watching Shellie give it all she had as she crossed the finish line, and the nervous moments until the final standings were announced, revealing that Shellie had taken second place by 13 points (a miniscule margin), were hands down the most memorable moments I experienced thus far.

Many members of the women’s team had gathered around us at the finish line and we all had tears in our eyes. It was a very cool experience.

What is the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome and how did you overcome it?
The biggest obstacle was my irregular schedule. While it was great to have some quality one-on-one coaching, it was hard to not have my teammates to fire me up when I was feeling tired, or to have someone else to fire up when they needed it.

The whole solitary situation was challenging. As I mentioned, my coaches certainly helped me overcome the obstacle by being tremendously accommodating, and my teammates helped me out whenever they were around.

How far do you plan to pursue your sport?
Eventually I desire to compete at the Olympics in track and field. I have come to realize that it would take a huge commitment to my sport, and I think that at some point in the future I will be able and willing to do what it takes.

Right now, I’m focusing on further developing in the many events in the pentathlon and heptathlon, as I compete for university and club track teams while at Western.

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