Emily Patterson, 40, was eager to resume coaching after taking a brief hiatus.
The Lexington High School librarian of seven years led CrossFit classes and offered personal training at a gym she owned for about five years.
After transitioning out of that role last year due to a hectic schedule, Patterson was looking forward to pick coaching up again.
“I'd missed coaching so much that I applied for the (strength and conditioning position) and I got hired,” she said.
In January, Patterson officially became the first female to fill this position at Lexington High School.
Patterson saw this job as an opportunity to work with the students in a different way.
“I get to see them (in an academic setting) every day, but to see them in a different capacity where they're working on their physical selves, as well as their mental selves, I just thought that I could really offer them a lot in teaching them proper techniques, trying to keep them safe in their sports, strengthening muscles that they might not even know they have — just trying to develop a whole child is a pretty cool position to have,” she said.
Patterson believes mental fitness is just as important as physical fitness, and shouldn't be neglected.
"It’s great that you're healthy and that you're in shape, but to me it all starts in your brain,” she said. “If you don't have a healthy, strong brain, I don't know if you can maintain a healthy, strong body.”
That’s why she works with the students on building both mental and physical strength.
“I think that it just can really build up somebody's confidence teaching them how to calm down, breathe, get control of their body, get control of their mind,” she said. “It's a really powerful tool to have and a great way to practice is with physical activity.”
She talks with the students about how these lessons learned in the weight room can be applied in everyday life.
“Once you learn it there, it transfers to life, to academics, to everything,” she said.
“It might just be a five-pound, one-rep max, but achieving that goal can get you through the rest of the day. And when you're faced with a test, you can go, ‘Wait, I did something impossible in the weight room a couple hours ago, why can't I do something impossible here?’”
Patterson has started holding open lifts a couple days a week, which are open to all students, including those who aren’t in an athletic program.
One of her longterm goals is to offer a health and wellness class for students who aren’t involved in athletics at all.
“Part of achieving academically and being centered is taking care of your physical self,” she said.
Since becoming the strength and conditioning coach Patterson said it’s given her a whole new perspective.
“It’s just given me a stronger sense of pride in the community that I work for, and to be a part of helping raise these kids on so many different levels, I feel honored,” she said.