Profile: Marie Markham

Keira Saavedra

Most young female athletes face the challenge of how to excel in their sport as their body transitions through puberty. According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, “By the age of 14, girls are dropping out of sports at twice the rate of boys.”

Lincoln’s Track and Field and Cross Country coach, Marie Markham, is working to change this trend by empowering young female athletes, especially distance runners, to become more confident and feel like they have a place in the sport. 

Markham has been an athlete throughout her whole life. She won six National Junior Olympic titles and six state titles in high school. She went on to compete in the World XC Championships in Cape Town and Spain. After competing internationally she went on to run for the University of Oregon where she became a six time All American and Pac 10 champion. After college she ran for Nike, became a teacher, and began coaching for Lincoln High School in 2018. 

“I fell in love with the sport when I was about ten years old,” Markham said. “I also felt a huge sense of community with the sport when I was young, and so I just felt that it was something that really made me happy every time I got out there.” 

Markham’s main goal when becoming a coach was to help athletes focus on themselves, especially young female athletes, and not the pressures brought on by society and peers.

 “What happens often is we compare ourselves too much to others, or to times and expectations that people might set for us,” Markham states. “If female and male athletes, mainly female athletes, can stay true to who they are and what they want to accomplish I think they’ll be the most successful.” 

Before becoming a coach, Markham decided to enter a teaching career. Throughout her life she always pictured herself as a running coach, but when she started college she found that she wanted to become a teacher.

 “When I went into college, I realized I wanted to be a teacher, and so I thought oh coaching and teaching is very similar so I’ll kind of be a coach in the classroom I guess.” Markham says. 

Markham got into coaching and realized many of the lessons on being a good coach were geared toward coaching male athletes, so she founded Wildwood Running to help coaches learn how to be able to better “understand our female athletes.” Markham is clear about Wildwood Running’s mission.

“To support girls in sports around being happy and healthy,” says Markham. “Focusing on other things beside the workouts, besides the x’s and o’s of running, but focusing on mental health, nutrition, confidence building and then then also giving them a sense of confidence as not only they navigate the sport but as they navigate the rest of their lives.” 

Markham has always been passionate about the sport of running and helping others be their best selves. Coaching allowed her not only to reconnect with running, but also help young athletes find themselves, be successful and happy. So, she decided to reach out to the head coach at Lincoln High School to see if they had room for more coaches. 

“I decided I wanted to volunteer at Lincoln…. I didn’t know what it was going to feel like to be a coach,” says Markham. “So as I got back out there [on the track] the love for the sport came back, and then to feel like I actually made a difference in people’s lives really hooked me, and I felt lucky to be back in it.”

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