Heart of a Coach

Nate Wolf
Northwestern College (Iowa)
Track and Field Head Coach, Cross Country Assistant Coach


Chosen attribute: Perseverance

Dictionary definition: "Steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles or discouragement."

My definition: "Honoring a commitment when it is not convenient to do so. Performing — in sport or life — at the highest possible level regardless of external conditions or internal comfort. The ability to start something well, maintain that same level throughout the competition or life situation, and finish with the same intensity with which you began."

Favorite Scripture that deals with perseverance: Romans 5:3-5 - "And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope does not disappoint, because God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

How I have learned about perseverance in life: "Growing up as a distance runner, perseverance was a key attribute in the overall training cycle and was something I tapped into daily in each individual workout. Whether it was in the second-to-last interval or the middle part of a long run, perseverance played a key role. From this area of my life, I began to realize that perseverance was also a key to academic success in college. Finishing a night of studying strong took the same perseverance that it took for me to finish a workout strong.

"We are called as Christians to persevere, with the promise of perseverance developing character and that character producing hope."

"More recently, I have been reminded of perseverance with the blessing of the birth of my daughter, KayLee Joy. KayLee was born this past December with only a small portion of her brain and is both blind and deaf. She has a terminal diagnosis, and only God knows when He will call her home. Throughout my wife's pregnancy and this first year of KayLee’s life, I have daily been reminded of the importance to persevere through trials and struggles, joys and successes. I chose the passage from Romans because I am continually reminded that through difficult times (workouts, tests, family issues, etc.) we are called as Christians to persevere, with the promise of perseverance developing character and that character producing hope. We have the best hope and reason to persevere, Jesus Christ, who persevered for us."

How I teach my athletes to persevere: "Track and field is full of times when the body screams for us to stop, take a break or hold back a little. Athletes encounter this in workouts, competition, and even daily in nutrition, sleep and social choices. In today's society, we have so many distractions, all trying to keep us from fulfilling our potential. Track is a sport that calls for perseverance daily in workouts and over the length of an entire season and even a career.  Perseverance in both sport and life is a constant theme on our team and something I always teach our athletes."

About the Coach:
Alma Mater:
Northwestern College (Iowa)

Athletic Career:
• Competed in cross country and track at Northwestern College (1999-2003)
• Qualified for nationals in the mile and 3,000m runs

Coaching Career:
• Sixth year as Northwestern College Track and Field Head Coach
• 2007-08 GPAC Women's Indoor Coach of the Year
• Coached the Northwestern College women to their first top-10 finish at the 2008 NAIA Indoor National Championship Meet

FCA Involvement:
Wolf began attending and became very active in FCA during his sophomore year of high school. Then, while attending Northwestern College, a Christian school, he had opportunities to be involved in diverse amounts of Bible Studies, praise groups, etc.

"I would encourage any collegiate athlete to find a strong group of Christian friends and become active. FCA is a great opportunity to get connected with Christian friends," Wolf said. "FCA has helped me understand what it means to compete hard and glorify God through that effort. My high school track coach, Dale Harsin, led my school's FCA Huddle for nearly 30 years, and my dad was part of the first Huddle in my high school. It was through FCA that my dad came to know Christ. FCA has impacted my life both indirectly and directly in very meaningful ways."

--For more stories about faith and sport, visit www.sharingthevictory.com, the official magazine of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. To subscribe to STV, click here.

Photos courtesy of Northwestern College.