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Q&A: Fast 5 With the Director of Sports Performance

A Conversation with Jocelyn Awe

By Pam Moore

Jocelyn Awe in the gym.

Joceyln Awe brings high energy and hard-won knowledge to Whitman’s student-athletes. After college—and a young life of athletics, including hockey, basketball and football (to name a few)—Awe gained experience working with Division I athletes at Northwestern University and the University of Minnesota before leading the strength and conditioning program for the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois. 

Awe stepped into his role as Director of Sports Performance and the Baker Ferguson Fitness Center in June 2021. Whitman students inspire Awe daily—and he hopes to leave them with some inspiration as well. We had a chance to ask him five questions to find out what that looks like in the gym and beyond.

1. What inspired you to go into sports performance? 

I remember gravitating to magazines like Muscle & Fitness from the time I was 5 years old. When I was in elementary school, after my dad picked me up from my sports practice, I’d help him coach my sister’s team. So I’ve always loved sports. But I think the real turning point was when my high school football coach showed me how to lift weights my freshman year. At the time, I was 5 foot 6 and 120 pounds. Because of his belief in me, I was on the starting lineup two seasons later.

2. What’s your coaching philosophy?

I’m training athletes not just to perform well while they’re at Whitman—but for life. I want them to learn how to plan a workout routine that’s sustainable for decades to come so that they can continue to be active over their entire life span. That means giving them the skills to know when it’s time to be flexible and creative when a particular workout isn’t going as planned—and when it’s time to come see me or another professional for help. 

3. What do you find special about the Whitman community? 

Whitman student-athletes are uniquely multifaceted. In addition to playing a sport, oftentimes they’re also balancing participation in other clubs, a full course load and studying for the MCAT, for example. I’m so impressed by how well they manage to pursue so many different interests and passions at once.

4. What role does mindset play in performance?  

Mindset is huge. All other things being equal, athletes who train their minds are better equipped to maintain control in any given situation and more likely to push themselves beyond their comfort zone during training or competition—and achieve better results. 

5. How do you help athletes adopt a more productive mindset? 

I believe that the most powerful words are the ones we tell ourselves. You can influence the outcome of any given workout, competition or situation by simply believing it will go well—or that it won’t. Sometimes I’ll have athletes write down the highlight of their day just before a workout. It sounds like a small thing but it’s a powerful cue to keep focusing on what’s going well.  

Published on Aug 18, 2023
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