Ian Hatfield's journey into coaching followed a well-trodden path.
Like many others, he became increasingly involved as his children grew up.
Eventually the kids moved on, but Hatfield had developed a passion for coaching, the veteran continuing his commitment to help young athletes achieve their goals.
Now, almost 40 years later, the Kembla Joggers coach has been awarded Athletics NSW life membership.
"It was a big surprise, but it is pretty special," Hatfield said. "I'm sure there are many honourable and worthy life members, it's humbling to be part of such a group.
"I've been coaching for almost 40 years and have been involved heavily with Athletics NSW since I retired in 1996, but I didn't think I was that important to be a life member."
The 76-year-old has coached some of the Illawarra's top athletes, including track stars Ryan Gregson and Chloe Tighe, surfer Sally Fitzgibbons and Australian hockey players Casey Sablowski and Blake Govers.
While Hatfield enjoyed mentoring those elite competitors, it's often the lesser-known children that have brought him the greatest joy.
"I've been fortunate to coach some great athletes, but I've also coached kids that may never make an Olympics, I just want to help them try to achieve their goals.
"They might win a medal, they might not, if it helps make them better people and instil confidence and set them on the right path to living a healthy life, that's a good result. I just get a thrill out of seeing kids enjoy themselves."