Bates Nordic Skiing captain Kaelyn Woods ’20 has led the women’s team in every race dating back to the start of the 2018 season, including the start of 2019. She is on a terrific run, slowly writing her way into the Bates skiing record books. After every race Woods is able to celebrate her success with her teammates and coaches. Lots of athletes will call their parents or talk to them in person afterwards if they were able to attend, but for Kaelyn it’s even earlier.
As soon as the race ends, she gets to walk over and speak with her head coach about how the event went and how the team is doing. Her head coach is also her mother, Becky Woods, a graduate of Bates in the Class of 1989. Becky and Kaelyn are in the unique position of having a mother-daughter relationship while also having a coach-player relationship. Lots of parents will coach their kids in various sports at a young age, but the collegiate level is a very different story. For Kaelyn, the fact that it is at the collegiate level makes it easier to differentiate between relationships.
“I think it’s really easy to separate her roles as my mom and coach. At Bates she’s my coach, at home she’s my mom,” Woods said. “I try really hard to keep it that way, and I think we have a relationship that allows for this to happen really easily,” she added. Being able to live on her own makes it easier to separate the two atmospheres entirely.
The nice thing about having her mom as her coach at a point as late in her athletic career as college has been a great experience for Kaelyn, because she has always been involved in Kaelyn’s skiing life to some degree.
“I have had other coaches over the course of my career, but no matter what, my mom has always been a coach to me. All my coaches have had different coaching styles from each other and my mom is just another one of them,” she stated.
Of course different coaches have different styles, but Becky has always had an influence on Kaelyn’s life and ski career. It could even be nice that after always having a coach at home and a coach at school, now there is only one that has a voice in her ear. And that voice is one that has known her and seen her for her entire career.
It is definitely a tricky situation that the Woods duo is in, but the results certainly speak for themselves. In her sophomore year, Kaelyn finished 23rd out of 40 competitors in the women’s 15K freestyle race at the NCAA National Collegiate Skiing Championships, which was the program’s best NCAA championship race since 2012.
She is off to an excellent start in the 2019 season and is also in her first year as team captain, sharing the honors with senior Samantha Pierce. There’s no doubt that this can be a hard situation to find success in, but Kaelyn and Becky are making the most of it, exceeding expectations in the process.