5 minutes with… asst. track and field coach Ashley Lucas

By Rhema Rhea

The Northern Star sat down with Ashley Lucas, current assistant coach and former NIU track and field athlete, to talk about adjusting to coaching and to predict how the team will do as it transitions to the outdoor portion of its season.

Northern Star: [Cross Country and assistant track] coach Greg Hipp loves seeing the team excel in academics and athletics; how is it being around a group of girls that strive for the same goals you did as a student athlete?

Ashley Lucas: I try to be an example. It seems like a lot of distance girls are talented academically because they are so disciplined, and that is the case here at NIU. It’s always nice to have a coach who stresses academics and athletics.

NS: How did you decide NIU was the right fit for you during your final year of eligibility?

AL: A lot of it had to do with looking around at the schools that had my grad program because I’m in the kinesiology department here. So I wanted something that was kind of close to my hometown, which is about 45 minutes away from here. I didn’t want to go too far away. … My brother had met coach Hipp and he gave a kind of high regard, so I met with him. I really liked the program here. I met with the kinesiology department, really liked that department, and I just liked what coach Hipp stood for. So I thought he’d be a good mentor for me to go under as I look to start my coaching career when I’m done with school.

NS: What has been the biggest difference transitioning from being an athlete and now helping out with coaching athletes?

AL: The biggest difference is just adjusting to this role model type role I’ve been for them. I think as an athlete you are all for the team, but at times you can be a little selfish. But as a coach you have to be a little bit more selfless and look out for everyone and just making sure they are doing what they need to do and kind of putting them above your own aspirations.

NS: How has it been balancing your master’s program and coaching?

AL: It has been a little bit taxing. I’m in the office in the Athletic Department a lot; right now I’m just taking two classes with the department. That’s two days a week that I have night class. I also have a part-time job in Geneva. So it’s definitely a time struggle, but I wouldn’t change it. I love what I do.

NS: What’s your take on how the distance girls performed during the indoor portion of the season?

AL: I think our distance girls are definitely stepping it up, especially our middle distance, like our milers and with the [distance medley relay] doing well. I think there is a core of about five or six girls who are really starting to change the program as far as the distance girls and now they are kind of getting everybody else on board with them. … I’m hoping during outdoor those core five or six girls can just kind of tailgate everybody else with them, and those other girls can piggyback off of their success and just work a little bit harder to get to that bar that they set, which I think that they definitely will.

NS: Do you see the distance girls’ performances getting even better during the outdoor portion of the season?

AL: I think, especially with adding the 10K outdoor, we’ll have Juliane [Totzke] and Leah [Raffety] running in the 10K. It will be [Raffety]’s first time in the 10 and [Totzke] has had some experience with it, and I think [Totzke] really likes the 10K, so I think getting her in what she considers her prime race will set the tone. Not that indoor is not important because it is, but it kind of does piggyback us into outdoor. Once we get to outdoor toward the end of the season we will taper back a little more and I think you will see a lot of great performances from the girls.