Transforming Trauma Episode 048: Bringing Trauma Awareness to Coaching Volleyball with Kathy Nielson
A podcast brought to you by the NARM® Training Institute
In this episode of Transforming Trauma, we are joined by Kathy Nielson. Kathy recently completed the Level 1 NARM Online Basics Training and is now a NARM-Informed Professional. Kathy shares about her multifaceted involvement in her community of North Minneapolis. This is a community full of connection and engagement, a multiracial community where 84% of residents are people of color, but also a community where so many are living through racial trauma and the impact of intergenerational trauma and poverty. In her community, Kathy wears many hats. Not only is she a volleyball coach, she’s also the owner of Lion's Fire, a mobile wood-fired pizza business and social venture with a purpose to employ, train, and build connection with female student athletes. She's also the co-founder of a small neighborhood-based nonprofit called Lions Ink, which is focused on gathering and sharing relational and financial resources to support a new generation of young individuals and families as they move from survival toward emotional and financial flourishing.
What made Kathy interested in attending a NARM training was, in part, her own trauma, but also the trauma she knew her volleyball players had and were experiencing. Kathy references the ACE study and shares with Sarah, “most of the players on my team, I think it's not a stretch to say would score six or above on the ACES test.” ACE stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences and was a study that explored the links between childhood experiences and the impact of those experiences in relation to current health status and behaviors. Kathy wanted to understand how to support her players more effectively with their trauma, so as she was doing research online she found the Transforming Trauma podcast, and then signed up for the NARM Online Basics Training.
Kathy was inspired by the Transforming Trauma episodes she listened to. She says, “I knew enough to know that curiosity and understanding are transformative.” As she learned about the basic NARM principles in her research, she found alignment. Kathy mentions Dr. Heller’s quote about how each person has within them the organismic impulse towards connection, health and aliveness, and how that was a source of inspiration for her in her desire to support her players with their trauma. Kathy resonates with this deeper understanding that NARM holds around connection, and how humans are wired for connection but also resist connection. She has observed this in her players. Even when they don’t appear to want connection, it's important to understand as coaches and mentors of these teenagers, that they need connection. So she strives to create the conditions that support connection and finds NARM to be a great resource in doing so.
Healing in spaces outside of therapy and between non-clinicians is an intention that Kathy shares through her conversation with Sarah. As the session comes to a close Sarah asks Kathy how she might’ve noticed the NARM Online Basics Training impacting her. Kathy reflects on how she notices that she relates to herself differently since being in the training. She has shifted her ability to be more present instead of overriding her feelings. She shares that this has supported her to be more present and in relationship with her players as opposed to trying to fix or change herself and her players. Kathy expresses a heartfelt appreciation for the work she gets to do and shares that she feels privileged being able to coach and be with her players.
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Kathy Nielsen’s work is rooted in North Minneapolis, a community full of joy and aptitude where 84% of residents are people of color. Many are rising through complex trauma, racial trauma, and generational poverty. Kathy wears several hats: one as the head volleyball coach at Minneapolis North Community High School. She’s also the owner of Lion's Fire, a mobile wood fired pizza social venture with a purpose to employ, train and journey with female student athletes in North Minneapolis. And she’s the co-founder of a small neighborhood based non-profit called Lion's Ink, which is focused on gathering and sharing relational and financial resources to support a new generation of young people and young families as they move from survival toward emotional and financial flourishing.