By Cheryl Van Tuyl Jividen :: Photography by Kate Henson
The USA Track & Field (USATF) announced recently that Rose Monday will be the Assistant Coach – Woman – Distance for Team USA at the 2016 Olympic Games is Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This is her second time joining Team USA as she served as the assistant coach for women’s distance for the U.S. women’s team at the Olympic Games in London in 2012.
There are many things that have contributed to Rose Monday’s success as a world-class athlete and now her second turn as the women’s distance coach for Team USA at the 2016 Olympic Games, but none more important or constant than husband, John. “John’s made all this possible,” says Rose. A self-proclaimed late bloomer athlete, she says, “He believed in me before I believed in myself.”
“I am humbled and honored to be nominated and selected to represent the United States on my second Olympic Team USA Coaching Staff. I will have 22 athletes that I will be responsible for,” says Monday. Track and Field differs to other team sports like soccer, volleyball and basketball where the team trains together. The track and field athletes have their individual personal coaches; however, the International Olympic Committee only allows a few personal coach credentials per Nation and the USA is usually allotted five. “My role will be to facilitate all training sessions among a myriad of other duties for my middle and long distance athletes during the training camp in Houston prior to our departure to Rio as well as during the Olympic Games.”
Monday says Team USA is blessed to have a full complement of three qualifiers per event for a delegation of approximately 126 athletes. “My goal is to create the environment that takes the pressure off of the athletes, allowing them to compete at their best and to come home with the most medals.”
The Cordillera Ranch couple met on a blind date and have been together 38 years and married for 35. Rose says John enabled her to not have to work full-time allowing her to devote the time needed to develop her sport early on.
Rose always knew she wanted to be an Olympian after she saw Bob Beamon at the podium with a gold medal for his world record long jump. That goal lead her to California State University Northridge, and with John at her side, from three Olympic Trials to two bronze medals, a silver and a gold at the World Masters and coaching stints including one at the University of Texas at San Antonio from 2000-2007.
The Mondays have two adult children, son Jack, 20, a sophomore at West Point and Mary, 22, a recent graduate of Texas A&M. Rose was able to juggle being a mom and fully participate in both her sport and career because of John. “I was able to balance work and parenting. I’d pick them up after practices, and when Rose was traveling we’d use technology to let the kids connect with mom,” says John who has worked for AT&T for 35 years. John is quick to credit his children for their role in Rose’s support, “It’s a partnership for the whole family. They’ve had their responsibilities and it’s all transitioned into their strong work ethic.”
John says there were hardships, “The hardest part when she was an athlete was the need for encouragement, as athletes are always measured. I kept her on an even keel and have always been her biggest supporter.” In that regard, John says it’s part of his management style at work as well. Rose agrees, “There are ebbs and flows and a series of highs and lows, and in a very short period of time— it can be heartbreaking.” John cites the greatest sacrifice were the times Rose was gone.
Rose says it was John who helped her along the way to accept the realities of her athletic life. “He told me I was never fully happy. Even if I won it wasn’t satisfying because to me it wasn’t fast enough.” In those words, Rose had an epiphany from God making her realize she wanted to appreciate the moment, “I avowed I will totally appreciate running, I will enjoy the smell of the grass when I run, and even the bad times, not just the times that had me winning on the track.” She said that understanding cemented her philosophy that success is a journey NOT A DESTINATION. Her faith is an important part of her life. “I always pray. I ask to execute the race plan, win or lose, and ask God to let me use the gift I’ve been given.”
Coaching has it demands. John says, “She’s respected as one of the best coaches in the world.” Part of that achievement has included deep connections with young athletes over the years, relationships that she maintains still today. “It’s easy to get overinvolved. She’s a perfectionist and so involved in their lives,” he says remembering her college athletes and calls at 3 a.m., “That was hard.”
Rose’s coaching philosophy is drawn from her own experiences as an athlete and her coaches. She’s also willing to share her coaching secrets, “The art of coaching is knowing how to switch the workouts up. That’s what I do best. I have to have a pulse on their lives and situations so they don’t crack. Knowing each individually and knowing their stressors is key.”
Rose says one of her mentors said long ago not to get overly caught up in your work and sport, and remember that family always comes first. She took that to heart when her daughter was in middle school and entering High School. To make more time to enjoy with her children, Rose quit a great coaching job at UTSA. “Our mission was to invest our time in the kids,” says John. It allowed Rose to be more involved in Jack’s athletic pursuits, particularly his track activities. As Jack excels then and now in the 800 meter, Rose confirms she was very much mom coach to him, “I would send signals from the stands. It’s such a blessing for him to run — he’s a talented runner.” Daughter Mary, like Jack, was a swimmer.
Monday is a personal coach to three women, but also as the 2016 Olympic Assistant Coach, will facilitate and oversee 21 Olympians while in RIO. She’s very coach-driven and athlete-centered in her thinking. She always wanted to be a lawyer and as fate would have it, she was instrumental in drafting legislation as a member of the AAC Athletes’s Advisory Committee 31 years ago that now forms the current rules and regulations for athletes’ rights. “I’ll fight for athletes’ rights till the day I die.”
“It’s an adventure of a lifetime. Carrying bags to Oslo, Rome, Berlin and hanging with world-class athletes has not been bad,” John says about sharing all this with Rose. It’s also allowed the family to experience the world, with two weeks at a time in Olympic locales like London. “We’re both grounded and both have demanding careers. These are high points.”
As for Rose, she says she’s excited about Brazil as she’s never been there before. She is also thrilled about the runners, “I’m excited about the athletes that are running. The USA has the best Track and Field Team in the World and I am looking forward to being there to support the athletes to go out and do what they do best… win medals.” It’s also fulfilling for her to see athletes she worked with at the Pan American Games in Toronto when she was a junior coach, “Those babies are now Olympians on the senior stage.” She’s also very grateful, “It’s a cool job to have. What an honor.”
Keep your eyes peeled — Rose often trains her athletes in the hills of Cordillera Ranch. That runner you’re sharing the road with might just be a future medal-winning Olympian athlete.
A Maggie Vessey Update
Cordillera Ranch residents often ask the Mondays about Maggie Vessey who lived with their family in Cordillera Ranch and trained in the neighborhood. Vessey is a champion American middle distance runner specializing in 800m now living in Los Angeles. We caught up with her to see what she’s up to on the track and off:
“I am enjoying an incredible season. I have won 7 of my last 9 races, with one of those losses including an unfortunate fall in the final of the USA National Championships. I recovered from that and went on to win three straight races. I had the honor of representing USA at the World Relays in the Bahamas. Our 4×800 team won the Gold medal and set the American Record. It was an unbelievable experience.”
Maggie, 2014 Spike’s Personality of the Year, is trying to do her part to show the individuality of athletes and rally the fan base to be more excited about Track and Field. Her custom-made race outfits combine high-performance function and creative expression. Her unique fashion point of view has been noticed as she was recently recognized by New York Magazine as “the most stylish athlete right now.”
“I began designing my own competition wear. It has enjoyed a great reception, being featured in many publications worldwide, including: InStyle Magazine, Women’s Health Magazine, ESPN Magazine, Runner’s World Magazine, Milan’s La Gazzetta dello Sport, Pakistan’s The Newsletter and France’s Le Figaro Madame Magazine. It is my desire to expand from high fashion competition wear to women seeking fashion forward workout wear.”
LA Life & Remembering the Ranch
“I definitely miss my days at Cordillera Ranch. My heart warms when I think of my time living there. I especially miss dining at the Club and having the opportunity to chat with everyone. It was a great time in my life getting to know the wonderful people of Cordillera and I hope to return for a visit very soon.”