Sunday, May 5, 2013

Zohner Makes History as First Female Coach at Mount Michael

 Kevin Jewell | Staff Writer for The Mount
At Mount Michael, the ratio of females to males is much smaller compared to other schools in Omaha. Outside of our teachers, we rarely see females. So it’s natural that there hasn’t been a female athletic coach at Mount Michael; that is, until now. This spring, chemistry teacher Leah Zohner began coaching the shot-put and discus members of the track team. Beyond being the first female coach of an athletics team at Mount Michael, Zohner has certainly made an impact on the team.

Leah Zohner Chemistry Teacher and Assistant Track and Field Coach
Zohner has been involved in athletics her entire life. After participating in volleyball, basketball, track, and swim team in high school, she went on to play volleyball at the University of Central Arkansas. Zohner coached club volleyball for seven years while getting her masters and teaching credentials; she was then ready for the next step. Zohner came to Mount Michael to head the Chemistry department for both sophomores and seniors. Early on, other track coaches approached Zohner because they heard she had background in shot-put and discus, which the other coaches did not, but Zohner didn’t jump at the opportunity initially. “I was really unsure just because I hadn't adjusted myself to the school. It took a lot of people, but more importantly time to allow me to coach,” Zohner said.

After the first semester, Zohner was ready to take the job. The idea of working with males was a bit intimidating, but Zohner felt she could do it. “I think I have a sharp enough wit to stay with the crowd,” Zohner said. Zohner experiences difficulties much like any other coach. However, it is much harder to gain respect from athletes being a female shot put coach according to Zohner. She has embraced the role and has certainly put in the effort to improve her athletes. Many of the athletes doubted Zohner and her abilities, but once the athletes saw their personal improvement they started to believe in her. Sophomore Chase Goddard has felt this improvement since Zohner arrived, “She’s very proactive about us getting in the weight room and giving our best effort in practice or at a meet.” The shot-put and discus athletes have greatly improved since Zohner’s arrival and the program shows no signs of slowing down. Senior Josh Rauterkus has seen a new personal record in both shot put and discus at 40 ½ feet and 90.2 feet, respectively.

Though the role of females in athletics has been rising, Zohner’s move is unprecedented at Mount Michael. “It’s something different at Mount Michael and I hope that women will be further encouraged to gain confidence and coach as well,” Zohner said. Zohner encourages students and faculty to try new things. As for Zohner’s thoughts on this season’s success: “Well, we scored a point last meet so we’re pretty good.”