For about 15 of Nick Pedrazzini’s 27 years as a swimming coach, he would take a total of one week in holidays. For seven days out of every 12 months, he would step away from an all-consuming job devoted to aspiring athletes and their families.
There was great reward but a heavy price. A marriage was lost, and there was a spiral into depression. He saw the family pressures his mentor, Laurie Lawrence, endured yet followed the same path.
“You end up living the life of the athlete. That puts a lot of strain on family. I went through a divorce and a lot of that was probably based on not earning much money and being away from your own kids,” said Pedrazzini, the head coach at Redlands Swim Club in Brisbane.
“You do it because you love it but it takes a toll on you. Maybe you don’t admit it, or may not recognise that. You’re trying to be committed like the athlete, or they don’t feel like you’re putting in the same work they are.
Pedrazzini is one of the community voices for a new campaign aimed at putting the mental health of coaches on the agenda and trying to create cultural change in a career defined by results and often judged on the hours you spend on the job. In coaching circles, being a workaholic is standard practice and a viable performance metric.
The brainchild of long-time athlete manager Phil Stoneman, current and former athletes around Australia will be asked on Wednesday to post a message on social media with the hashtag #lookafteryourcoach. A Facebook page has been set up to share stories and messages. It may just be a simple thank you.