Monday Motivation: Coach Whitney Bevins of Westfield HS

Welcome back to the "Monday Motivation" series. We invite coaches around the state to give insight into their teams recent performances and have them relay messages that they have shared with their teams at various points in the season.

This week's piece is from Westfield girls coach Whitney Bevins. The Shamrocks competed in the tough Noblesville regional this past weekend placing sixth. Though they did not advance as a team, three athletes are still moving on to the Semi-State next week to compete for a chance to advance to the state meet. 

Read the full message below from Coach Bevins after regionals and heading into the Semi-State week. 

Without knowing it, I started my coaching career while in grad school in 2003. I was living at home in Westfield while going to school in Indianapolis. Coach Albert, the head boy's coach at Westfield at the time, asked me if I'd help be an assistant coach. I did, and I loved it. During my very nomadic 20's, I would help coach any time I was back living in Indiana. Finally in 2019 I had a job at a school that allowed me to coach more seriously. In the Fall of 2019, I became Scott Lidskin's assistant at Westfield. For two years he would mentor me to take over his program. I took over as Westfield's girl's coach in 2021. It's the best job I've ever had.

I suppose it is a bit ironic to be doing this piece called 'Monday Motivation' the day after my team missed advancing to the Semi-State by 12 points. The Noblesville Regional is talked about all year. It's the toughest Regional in the state without question. It's devastating to have two girls run sub 19 and average 19:36 (an off day for us) and be the sixth team. It is frustrating to hear 'your team had a better chance of advancing out of Semi-State than the Regional meet.' It's difficult to be ranked as a top 20 team but not have the chance to prove it. It sucks to know my team and the 7th place Cathedral would have won 9 other Regionals and been second in 6 others. Every year there are one to two teams from the Noblesville Regional who feel this frustration. Last year my team was on the winning side of it. This year we were on the losing side. I'm still processing what that feels like. I'm still processing what that means for my girls.

I'm still trying to figure out what I could have done differently to give my girls the chance to advance. What could I have done better? What could I have said? How could I have timed training to be right on the day? I had three girls advance on to Semi-State. I am thrilled for them because they had great days. I'll spend tonight and tomorrow switching gears to get them ready for next Saturday, but their team deserves to be running with them. I'm not the first coach who has been in this position, and I won't be the last. I will advocate for very talented teams in all areas to get their deserved chance at the State meet and will collaborate with other coaches to work with the IHSAA to make sure the realignment and the new post season structure make sense.

Every week and even sometimes daily, I try to assess what I think my girls might need in the way of training, words, rest. I intentionally did not talk much about regionals last week. It has been a bigger push for our team this year to just learn to work together and come together as a team instead of individuals out running. With a smaller post season roster, I was able to take my girls out to Starkey Park in Zionsville. The park used to host my favorite cross country course as a high school athlete, and it remains one of my favorite places to run. I love being able to share that experience with my girls; running through the woods and enjoying the Autumn leaves. We get pizza at Mike Cole's Greek Pizzeria in Zionsville after the run. It's always a joyful experience together and that was the point.

Early in the week, I addressed the Huntington situation with my team. Was that right or wrong? I do not know, but I felt that it was my responsibility to talk to them about it rather than have them read things on social media. We had several cultural challenges this year, for which I take part responsibility. I feel like each week since before Nike Twilight was simply doing damage control all the while trying to train, motivate and keep girls heading in the right direction. I borrowed a Karen DeVries quote from Coach Arredando up in Valpo and that has been the central point of our motivation for several weeks now; "I will run hard for you today because I know you prepared yourself to run hard for me." Working on our culture has been more important than focusing on a race. I told the girls several times this season that our running goals won't happen until we can come together and support one another as people. We made much needed progress in that area that I hope will make us a stronger, closer and better team moving forward.

Any advice to coaches during this time of the season? Coaches, take care of yourselves. We can't be what our athletes need us to be if we aren't taking the time to be well. The season is long and for those who coach both track and cross country it really doesn't end. Let your assistants run a practice from time to time or even be ok with cancelling practice one day. It's a good break for you, your coaches and the kids will be thrilled. Be ok having a silly costume run with candy and relays. It might just save your season.

Coincidentally, in these two to three weeks leading up to the state meet, I have had conversations with four top coaches across the state. All of these coaches are struggling with something difficult and personal. I struggled with depression most of this cross country season. I know it took a toll on my team and my coaches. It's probably an entirely different article to discuss how we can continue to coach, be 'on stage' for our athletes and get them ready for maybe the most important race of their life all while managing everything in the background. So one last piece of advice heading into Semi-State and State, know you are doing a great job if you helped get your team this far. Know that so many athletes are glad you are there every day even if they never say it.  Allow yourself to be a little bit vulnerable with your athletes. It shows them that we are real people working through life just like they are and this can go a long way in coaching.

If you are a coach that wants to be a part of the series in the future, reach out to us at for more information.