2021 Global Coaches Day Profile: Danielle Stefano (AUS)

by Courtney Akrigg on 24 Sep, 2021 02:00 • Español
2021 Global Coaches Day Profile: Danielle Stefano (AUS)

There are millions of coaches around the world, some of them working on a voluntary basis and all of them having a big impact on our lives and societies. As part of European Week of Sport 2021, ‘Global Coaches Day’ has been marked for Saturday, 25 September and World Triathlon are profiling various coaches and acknowledging all coaches, around the world, for their incredible and ongoing contribution to Triathlon and Para Triathlon.

Coach Profile: Danielle Stefano, Australia
Danielle Stefano is the Head Coach of the ELOTIK Pro Triathlon squad based in Melbourne, Australia and Girona, Spain. The squad consists of able bodied triathletes and para triathletes, with a focus on the World Triathlon race circuit. Danielle Stefano’s squad holds a portfolio of strong results including Olympic and Paralympic Games qualification and experience.
ELOTIK Pro Triathlon squad includes:
Emma Jeffcoat
Marcel Walkington
Callum McClusky
Hiraku Fukuoka
Sophie Linn
Charlie Quin
David Bryant
Nic Beveridge
Liam Twomey
Jeremy Peacock

How did Danielle get started as a coach and what continues to motivate her?
I was an interim coach in 2012 as part of a team looking after Erin Densham and Brendan Sexton in the lead up to and at the London Olympic Games. At the time I was actually working as a Sport Scientist for the Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS) and when I arrived back from the Olympics, I decided I no longer wanted to be a Sport Scientist and wanted to become a full time triathlon coach. I was then the Head Coach of the VIS Triathlon Program from 2013-2016 and then started ELOTIK Pro Triathlon in 2017. It was in 2017 when I started coaching para triathletes with Kate Doughty as my first athlete.
I’m driven by being able to effect change in people and help them realise and achieve their potential. To continually challenge my athletes and myself to be better each day is what drives me and whilst this can take you on a roller coaster of a ride along the journey, that’s what I love about high performance coaching. 

What drew Danielle to coaching in Para Triathlon?
The people within para triathlon are what drew me to the program. I coach my para triathletes not because they are para-athletes, but because they are good people. Each one of them has a hunger to be the best and a desire to learn and better themselves which is what I love and respect. I was passionate about having an integrated program of both para and able bodied athletes as there is so much to learn from one another and only enhances the value of the daily training environment.

What have been Danielle’s greatest achievements as a coach?
My greatest achievement as a coach is getting my squad to where it is today. When I stepped out into the world of being a private triathlon coach with just 2 athletes and no idea how I was going to survive, to see where it is today, the athletes that I’ve had in my program, and the relationships and rapport that we’ve developed, makes me incredibly proud. Coaching isn’t an easy gig but the trust that my athletes have bestowed in me to help them along their athletic journey is my greatest achievement.
In regards to results, obviously being involved in Erin Densham’s bronze medal in London was a highlight along with having Brendan Sexton (London), Emma Jeffcoat (Tokyo), Nic Beveridge (Tokyo) and David Bryant (Tokyo) qualify for the Olympics and Paralympics are all achievements I’m extremely proud of.
However, it’s probably some of the ‘unsung’ results that all have their own backstory of breaking through or overcoming change that have a special place with me:
Marcel Walkington - 2nd at the 2018 Astana World Cup - breakthrough podium performance
Ryan Fisher - 1st at the 2015 Chengdu World Cup - first international win after coming back to triathlon after time out from the sport
Kate Doughty - 1st at the 2019 Milan World Para Series - first race back and win after giving birth 9 months earlier and losing her father in law the week of the race

What are Danielle’s goals as a high performance World Triathlon coach?
To continue to be unashamedly devoted to high performance and provide a world class coaching environment for my athletes to thrive in and reach their potential. Like my athletes, I want to be the best and well respected world wide. 

What was the Tokyo experience like for Danielle and her squad of athletes who represented Australia at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2021?
It’s always a privilege to put on the green and gold uniform and represent Australia. This honour is not lost on me and I am extremely grateful to have been involved in both the Olympic and Paralympic campaigns in Tokyo. Whilst I am proud of this, it’s not about me. It’s about my athletes and their performance and experience at the Games to which I’m very proud of every one of them. It was a Games like no other in the craziest of times but how they all went about their business was a testament to their professionalism, focus and determination. 

What are some of the greatest lessons that Danielle’s athletes have taught her as a coach?
Greatest lesson is to practice what you preach when it comes to having a break. It’s very easy as a coach to burn the candle at both ends, so I’ve learnt over the years that in order to get the very best out of me for my athletes, I need to take a break and have time to myself - similar to my instructions to the athletes!

Global Coaches Day_AUS

Global Coaches Day_AUS2

For more information on the World Triathlon Coach Education Programme, visit the website.

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