Stephanie Domin: Celebrating 20 Years at Carthage College

Stephanie Domin, University of Rhode Island graduate, is the head coach for the Women’s Cross Country and Women’s Track and Field Teams here at Carthage College. Fresh out of college, Domin worked as a graduate assistant at Loras College in Iowa. She worked primarily with sprinters, which was a change of pace for her, as she was a long-distance standout in her running career. Eventually, she was led to Carthage College, where she then became an assistant coach to both the Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Teams, as well as an assistant coach for track, working again with sprinters. Now, in 2017, Domin is celebrating her 20th anniversary as a coach, with 14 of those years as head coach. 

Domin feels her years as a college athlete helped shape who she is as a coach. In college, Domin was unaware of what she wanted to do after graduation, but knew running was her passion. Because she lived the life of a college runner, Domin feels she can connect with the team and use her own experience to help her athletes. “I feel that because I lived that role I understand what members on the team are going through with the balance, stress and time of academics and athletics,” says Domin.

When asked, Domin had a hard time picking what her favorite memory is from coaching over the years. “I have so many coaching memories. Most of them revolve around the young athletes that I have coached and met over the 20 years,” Domin reflects. Many of her favorite memories involve her athletes meeting the goals they’ve shared with her, both on and off the track. Some highlights of Domin’s are when her 4x100 meter relay sprint team won the event at Outdoor Nationals 2003, and, this past season, where the women’s track and field team placed 3rd overall at the national meet.

Photo courtesy of Deann Jones

Domin finds many similarities between parenting and coaching. She has two kids of her own, and finds that she uses common tactics in both. She wants her kids to have fun in sports, because if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, then there’s no point. However, with her athletes, she expects them to work hard and take the sport seriously, while still maintaining the fun and social aspect of the team.

Domin also believes sports can develop good character values, such as respect and teamwork. She hopes that her role in both her kids’ lives and her athletes' lives have helped them to realize these values. She also believes that since she became a mother, she has coached differently. “Being a college-age student-athlete is tough," she says. "There are so many outside factors and expectations, many more than I had growing up. I see that now and I need to be more understanding of the athlete's needs and really try to put myself in their shoes.” An important takeaway Domin has had from both coaching and parenting is being patient.

Athletes at Carthage are very grateful to have an asset like Domin on campus. While Domin’s job title says ‘Coach,’ many of her athletes see her as more than that. Many girls call her their "second mom" on campus and turn to her for advice in other aspects of life outside of running. Alanna Varnas, ‘17, says, “I feel like I have had success with Steph as a coach because she has always cared about my physical and mental health just as much as my running performance. She goes above and beyond to make sure everyone on the team is happy and healthy. It means alot to me that she always cared about me just as much when I wasn't even scoring for the team as she did when I was number one.”

Varnas is a prime example of how Domin’s coaching turns freshmen runners into competitive athletes. Varnas’s personal best from her freshman season was a 25:43 for 6 kilometers. With Domin’s training and mentorship, Varnas finished her college career with a personal best at her last collegiate cross country race. Her time was 22:26, dropping over three minutes from her freshman year personal record. Varnas is a testament to what Domin can do for athletes as a coach.

Domin’s least favorite things about working with young adults is having difficult conversations when they are doing things that hinder their athletic performance. Usually though, Domin finds these conversations turning points in the athlete's season. One of Domin’s favorite things about coaching college athletes is the relationship she gets to develop between her and the athlete. A personal record is a personal record, and Domin enjoys watching her athletes better themselves. She feels just as much pride when her athletes succeed in thier events as when they walk across the graduation stage. She loves the process and seeing her athletes develop throughout their four years at Carthage.

We'd like to thank Domin for taking the time to speak with us, and congratulations on 20 years of amazing coaching! 

Rep image courtesy of Johnelle Miner