This is a rebroadcast. The episode originally ran in February 2020. Diljeet Taylor is the Brigham Young University Head Women’s Cross Country Coach and Associate Director of Track & Field, and has been with BYU since 2016. She ran for Cal State Stanislaus and for the Nike Farm Olympic Development Team, then coached at Menlo College and later replaced her own coach at Cal State Stanislaus. A three-time All-American herself, she has coached 43 All-Americans and led the BYU Women’s Cross Country team to first and second place NCAA titles the past three years. In 2021 she coached Whittni Orton (XC individual), the DMR team, Courtney Wayment (3000m), and Anna Camp-Bennett (1500m) to national titles. Diljeet and her husband Ira have two children, Taj and Avi. Diljeet Taylor, BU Women's Cross Country Coach


04:35 Running and coaching history and how she ended up at BYU 06:30 Embraced the standards because it is similar to how she was raised, even though she is not a member of the Church 07:40 Coaching cross country involves both the physical and especially the mental components 08:45 Her first goal was to bring the team back to national relevance 10:10 The team gets the recognition they need from the school and feel valued and supported; it consists of 35 women who are part of “the sisterhood” 13:10 Leading young women is about empowering them, advocating for them, and teaching them to build each other up instead of comparing and competing 15:15 Get reminders daily so they can compare themselves to where they have been, and work toward their own goals; each has their own challenges 17:30 Talking about their dreams; the five most important words are “How can I help you?”

  • The way you can teach them to achieve their dreams and goals is to help them achieve the goals they are working toward right now, which for the team members right now is personal growth in running

20:30 Bringing their individual goals together as a team happens through focusing on the journey and not the outcome 22:15 Establishing a culture of support by writing note cards to team members before every race, and an empowering culture of relationships

  • Emphasizing how important it is to genuinely care about the person next to you
  • The locker room: the teammates who are left home from meets aren’t left out because they are the supporters in the culture of sisterhood and recognize this is something bigger than one person

30:45 “Athletes don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” 32:40 Transparency is the key to making the tough calls and dealing with the disappointment of staying home in the locker room

  • 35:45 Being honest even when you have to be tough: the athletes also know that when she says positive things, she means it
  • 36:45 Knowing which athletes can handle or even need tough love
  • Giving feedback through two things they’re doing well and one thing to improve on
  • If an athlete seems unable to handle the tough love, it means the relationship isn’t strong enough

39:20 Drama and conflict with young adult women: They learn to handle it because they learn to be confident women and to step away from the comparison mindset; acknowledging that drama and conflict is part of being human, and validating and normalizing their feelings 42:00 How to diminish the comparison component: Comparison is the thief of joy

  • You can’t go through life without experiencing the success of others, but someone else’s success doesn’t take away from yours
  • Being happy for others while still being very competitive

45:20 Time and vulnerability are most important in creating connection so you have to be vulnerable as a leader, get out of your comfort zone, and put in the time to build a relationship

  • 47:20 Admitting when you’ve made a mistake

48:30 No overall approach: each athlete has individual goals and training plans 50:30 Athletics activities for young women: sign up for a 5k together so they can train together and work toward a goal together


Twitter: @BYUTFXC BYU Track & Field and Cross Country BYU Summer Cross Country and Distance Running Camps Read the TRANSCRIPT of this podcast Get 14-day access to the Core Leader Library

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