Good Coaching is Good Coaching; It is not Good Disabled Coaching

Posted by Heather Krill in Life After Paralysis on September 30, 2022 # Lifestyle

Geoff coachingSeptember is Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month, and trying to decide on one specific focus is impossible, mostly because Geoff’s spinal cord injury follows him and our family everywhere. However, it has never defined him, and that is what I hope people recognize this month now more than ever. To be clear, Geoff has never taken issue with the word disabled or adaptive, but even I was suspicious of his coaching abilities the first time he wheeled onto the soccer field to help me with my school’s varsity soccer team. Up until this point, our paths had crossed a few times at Loon Mountain, but either I was dating someone else, or he was. That fall though, I needed assistance with goalkeeping experience, and Geoff Krill appeared. Within seven minutes of watching him introduce himself to the team and start working with our keepers, any shadow of disbelief or lack of faith dissipated immediately. It never mattered that Geoff sat down to coach; he is still a talented coach, without the word adaptive or disabled preceding him. If the young women we worked with had any hesitation, we never saw it on their faces, and I know they became stronger athletes having been coached by him.

Now, almost 20 years later, Geoff finds himself assisting our varsity team once again, this time helping Chris McClure and Heidi Corey. Chris shared that their team has no sense of ability or disability with Geoff’s coaching. “He connects with the players from the perspective of an athlete. Geoff is also a master tactician. He is the primary architect of our attacking defense formation. As a goalie, he is sharing that perspective from the eyes of the player. The girls have 100% bought into the new system of play. Many of them are playing new defensive roles when they only previously played offense. It has been a significant change for them, and because the girls trust Geoff, they are buying into it. But most importantly, Geoff chooses to carry himself as a confident coach. He speaks his mind and educates the players and the other coaches whenever possible. We count on him to make the team better.”

Geoff coaching

Furthermore, our friend, teaching colleague, and children’s ski racing coach Aaron Loukes believes "passion is one of the most important parts of being a coach, and Geoff has that something about him that makes others love the sport that he is teaching or coaching. He is cerebral in his approach and wants to know the ‘how’ and ‘why’. Most of my conversations with Geoff are centered around skiing and ski racing. It is clear to me that he is not only a coach, but a student, and is always looking to gain more knowledge. After talking with Geoff, I am always more stoked and even more excited to hit the slopes."

While I’m not ready to hit the slopes yet, we will enjoy these weeks of soccer, the ones that follow summer and precede winter. These young women, both at the high school level, where he is an official assistant coach, and at the middle school level, where he is simply my husband who helps out when he has time, won’t remember Geoff for being a disabled coach they had once upon a time. Rather, they will remember him for being a coach first and foremost, and perhaps one who made them stronger in more ways than they could ever realize. This is the penultimate goal for inclusion, acceptance, and awareness for people with spinal cord injuries, and the people who love them, as well as learn from them each and every day-- no matter the season.

Heather Ehrman Krill is a writer- wife- teacher-mom who lives in the White Mountains of NH with her husband, Geoff, a paraplegic and professional skier, and their two children, Carver and Greta who are 12 and 11 respectively. Please check out her novel True North, website, author FB page Heather Krill, and @heatherkrill1 on Twitter.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.