SHE may have only been involved as a coach for seven years, but the impact that Mel Mustapic has had on her Shoalhaven athletes is gold medal material.
This was highlighted when the local athletics coach was recently awarded the Athletics NSW club/community coach of the year award, at a presentation evening held at Sydney’s Luna Park.
“Even when we were walking into the awards function, I was unsure if I had won an award or just been nominated and so I was taken by surprise when it was announced I had won,” Mustapic said.
“I was amazed to have won it and so thankful and honoured, as there were so many great coaches in that room.
“Although I haven’t been involved for that long, I think this award recognises the impact I’ve made – my athletes have come a long way during that time.
“It’s also nice to see Athletics NSW recognise the work coaches, such as myself, are doing in rural areas.”
Mustapic, from Cambewarra, acknowledges she wouldn’t be where she is today without the tutelage of former mentor, the late John Atterton – who she first met years ago at a little athletics clinic.
“Both John and I have similar philosophy’s when it comes to coaching athletics,” she said.
“For example, at the moment, I’m doing goal setting with my athletes – talking about motivation and what it takes to reach the top.
“I use goal setting for athletes at different standards, to help them reach their potential whether that be club level or international.
“John also taught me to cope with adversity, which is something I try and pass on to my athletes.”
Obviously those athletes have taken Mustapic’s lessons on board, with a lot of them achieving great successes recently, including national bronze medallist Cooper Thomson, as well as eight other state medallists this season.
However, true to form, Mustapic, who is also club captain at the Nowra Athletics Club, wants more of her athletes competing and medalling on the highest stages – something that is hard without a tartan track in the Shoalhaven for her athletes to train on.
“For our athletes to take that next step and be constantly competing at a national and even international level, we need the state of the art facilities that other areas have got,” she said.
“Currently our athletes have to train on grass or travel to Wollongong’s Beaton Park.
“But if we can get a tartan track to be re-instated into the master plan of the Shoalhaven Sporting Complex at Bomaderry, it would be massive for athletics on the South Coast.”