Australia's Greatest Coaches: Sarah Perkins

Subbing in for round two of our coaching profiles we have have hard-nosed Southern Terra Coach, Sarah "Perko" Perkins, who has come through the U18 ranks and is now looking to give back to the program that defined her early Ultimate career.

We sat down for a chat with Sarah to talk about the attitude she brings to coaching and the lessons she thinks have guided her to coaching prominence today!

Thanks for joining us Perko! For someone still quite young, you've managed to coach a good number of teams already. Could you lay out your experience for us so far?

"I've been fortunate enough to coach a number of teams within the junior age range:

  • Southern Terra - Head Coach 2020

  • Southern Terra - Assistant Coach 2016 and 2018

  • U18 NSW Women's Assistant Coach 2015-16 ( 2 x gold medals AYUC)

  • U18 NSW Women's Head Coach 2017 (Gold AYUC), 2018 (Silver AYUC)"

Such a wealth of experience with junior women's teams. Is there a particular attitude or mantra that you think has brought you coaching success?

"Don't tell them, listen then let them guide you."

Wow, wise words indeed. What drive you towards coaching?

I coach for two reasons. The first because I love being involved in other people's development and watching them succeed. Seeing my players achieve their growth potential makes me feel more accomplished and proud than my own on-field successes ever could. The second reason is that sport has the ability to shape a person's entire life, not just athletically. It teaches problem solving, patience, teamwork, hardship and tenacity. Coaching is a way I can share that.

I can completely relate to that. Among these campaigns, is there a moment that stands out to you as a favourite?

There is honestly hundreds, even in my short span of coaching. They range from watching the joy in a new players face when they execute a new skill correctly to presenting a players first Australian jersey.

Even the heartache I wouldn't change, it's what keeps you growing and wanting to further develop and teach.

We've been using this series to explore the gender gap in Australian coaching. Do you think it's important that Australia has a higher representation of female coaches? Why?

I think improving the pathways for coaching in general is probably more important than just singularly women. But I also believe that as a community we should encourage women to put themselves out there and apply for roles. There is a wealth of knowledge in the women's ultimate community just waiting to be tapped into. I strongly believe that there are 100 other females out there that have more coaching ability than myself, but I was just lucky enough to have been brought in and encouraged by other players and coaches.

Be that person for someone else.

Has your gender ever caused you any issues while coaching? If so, how did it come up and what did you do to address it?

I don't think I have but perhaps my own thinking pushed me specifically towards the women's division as I placed restrictions around myself. You will always stick to what you are most comfortable in. I am significantly more confident now however and have no issue being involved in either gender. I have only ever been supported when I have entered a coaching role.

Do you have any advice for readers who might be thinking about getting into coaching?

Gain knowledge and experience. No team is to small to start with. There are heaps of high school, u16, u18, u22, uni and club teams that want coaches! Talk to coaches and introduce yourself. Ask questions, lead a session, gain confidence and grow your coaching sphere.

Given you're so familiar with the women's division, would you ever consider coaching a men's side?

I haven't coach a men's team before, but it's absolutely something I want to do in the next few years. It is next on my 'bucket list' as a coach. I'm excited by the challenges that a new division would present and I would love the chance to build relationships with male players, just the same as I have in the women's division.