Long-serving Mingara Club athletics coach Matt Horsnell was honoured with the Country Coach of the Year Award at the 2019 Athletics NSW Awards Evening last week.
Horsnell’s contribution to the sport over the past 12 months was acknowledged among many of the state’s finest athletes and coaches at the beautiful Crystal Palace in Luna Park.
Since he began coaching athletics in Western Australia 24 years ago, Horsnell has served as the jumps coach of the Central Coast Academy for Sport Athletics Squad.
His undisputed star athlete is Commonwealth Games bronze-medallist Nicola McDermott, the sixth best high-jumper in Australian history – she is competing at the 2019 Athletics World Championships in Qatar later this year.
“I first saw her as a 9-year-old in Little A’s – I said to some people then that this girl could be one of the best high jumpers that Australia’s ever seen,” said Horsnell.
Mingara Athletics Club Secretary Margaret Beardslee praised Horsnell for his commitment to training junior athletes at the club, including Nicola.
“Matt’s one of those silent achievers – he just goes about his business and gets his job done,” said Beardslee.
“It’s obvious with how much Nicola’s achieved that he’s got some incredible gift in helping people reach their potential.
“He’s there for the athletes day after day after week after year.”
Horsnell recognises that patience is a critical factor for successful athletics coaches – ensuring children are injury-free is vital while their bodies develop.
“Being part of the athlete’s transition to higher levels of physical and mental development, is something that can be cherished by every coach,” said Horsnell.
“Knowing you were able to guide them to this level of expertise is very satisfying.”
As Horsnell continues to train the next generation of Australian athletes, his focus on long-term growth and training has proven to be a rewarding approach.
“Seeing junior Under 13 athletes progress through to become high-level successful senior athletes is what I love to see and is what keeps bringing me back as a coach,” said Horsnell.
“Sometimes success for the coach is not about winning gold medals but being able to see and find things with the athlete’s development that keeps them improving and developing their journey injury free over the long term.
“Gold medals are the bonus.”