Julia Landauer tells her coach ‘the saddest breakup I’ve ever had was with you’

What do you do when you want to thank that one coach who never gave up on you? You know, the one who taught you everything you know about sports, who trained you to win, showed you how to lose gracefully and turned you into the athlete you are today?

You write them a tear-jerking, heartfelt letter—and then you read it aloud and post it on Excelle Sports on Nov. 4, National Coach Appreciation Day.

Here, in honor of National Coach Appreciation Day, Excelle Athlete Ambassador Julia Landauer—the first female NASCAR track champion in her division—reads out loud a letter to her coach Glenn Butler. In the letter, Landauer thanks him for his unique advice, especially the two things he told her that helped to shape her into the name-taking, wheel-kicking, stereotype-defying, multiple-time championship race car driver she is today.

[More from Excelle Sports: Julia Landauer revs up her NASCAR schedule]

Watch the video and read her letter below.

Dear Glenn,

How do you adequately thank the person who took a risk on you when no one else wanted to? As we both remember, my 12-year-old self with pigtails couldn’t get a go-kart team to bring me on, despite my championship win the previous year. But you stepped up. You saw my drive, my parents’ support and you were a core part of building our team.

And what a team we built! We made history every year, showing the boys that this petite girl could kick their butts and grow together. We became a family and you’re one of the few people who personally knows the struggle, work and success that has gone into my racing career.

I learned so much from you, but there were two lessons that really stuck out:

1. “Your behavior on the track would put you in jail in real life.” Do you remember when you told me this? It was at Daytona when I was 14. What started as a terrible weekend when we went from top of the charts in practice to mid-pack in qualifying, ended in four podiums. And you worked with my dad to light the fire inside of me to get my aggression out.

2. “Walk through the pits like you know you’re the best.” I think this was also at Daytona, when you told me to stop slouching and notice that our competitors were staring at us as we walked through the pits. “They’re scared of you,” you said. “So walk like you know that you love it.” You helped me realize and develop my confidence. You weren’t shy about calling me out on not owning how good I was. And I remember how much you loved scaring the competition, which taught me to love it too.

This set the stage for our wildly successful years together.

Glenn, the saddest breakup I’ve ever had was with you. Realizing that we wouldn’t be able to work together once I moved into cars was tough to accept. I understand why and I recognized that it was necessary and best for both of us, but man, our relationship was irreplaceable.

Thank you for all your hard work, dedication, loyalty, love and absolute kick-ass coaching. Thank you for seeing my potential and for helping me thrive. Thank you for putting preconceived notions of female racers aside and for treating me like the champion that you knew I could be.