A busy schedule isn’t a burden for Idaho National Laboratory (INL) employee and Mackay High School two-sport coach Kashia Hale. Far from it. Hale said her busy schedule doesn’t allow for much time to sleep in, but it provides a way to give back to her community, be a better employee, and even stay focused on the important things in life.
On a typical day, Hale wakes at 4 a.m., begins thinking about how she’ll accomplish her daily goals and heads to work at INL’s Advanced Test Reactor (ATR), located 47 miles west of Idaho Falls. INL relies heavily on the ATR’s nuclear research capabilities, which supports the U.S. Navy, national security, nuclear energy, isotope production, along with other important research that invests in the nation’s future. Hale’s 10-hour days working as the facility operations coordinator and her time spent coaching two high school sports complement each other in countless ways. For Hale, these dual roles have made her into the person she is today.
Hale joined INL seven years ago, starting as a custodian at ATR. She wanted more, so she used that start as an opportunity to learn all she could about the facility. She quickly moved into operations, where she handled paperwork. Since then, Hale has earned more responsibility in her role as the facility operations coordinator by taking care of various operations’ needs, becoming the operations SharePoint point of contact, assisting with crew support, and document coordination.
Hale said her other jobs coaching volleyball and girls basketball at Mackay High School have helped improve her abilities and grit at work in countless ways.
“I don’t think I’d be the employee that I am at INL if I didn’t coach,” Hale said. “I carry those leadership skills I learn in coaching into work at ATR. A team is a team. It’s not just in the gym. At INL, we must work together to find our success.”
Hale is busy coaching volleyball and basketball seven months out of the year, starting in August and ending in late February. In addition to games on the weekends, a typical day during coaching season involves coming home after work around 6 p.m., picking up her kids, Journee (age 2) and Halle (age 9), from the babysitter, and taking them to practice. Most days don’t end until 8:30 p.m. Coaching is a chance for Hale to stay involved in her community and still spend time with her kids.
“I don’t really miss out on that time with my kids and they love being in the gym and cheering on their girls,” Hale said. “We run practice, we come home, and then I’m mom.”
In fact, Hale’s “family” has grown through coaching.
“In between this I have kids that text me and things that go on,” Hale said. “It does take a lot of time, but I consider the kids on the team to be my extra kids.”
Hale began coaching 11 years ago, starting with junior varsity basketball, and adding junior high volleyball as a volunteer for a few years. She became the head coach for Mackay’s varsity volleyball and girls basketball programs four years ago.
As a Mackay graduate and high school volleyball and basketball player herself, Hale said, “When I moved back home from living in Pocatello for a few years, all I wanted to do was give back to my community, and coaching was one of the best ways.”
Hale’s favorite part of coaching is hard to pin down, but she loves helping people succeed.
“I don’t coach because I love the sport. I do, but I coach for the kids and helping them reach personal success. Shaping young minds is crucial right now. Seeing their joy when they make a layup, win a game, or beat their personal best is the greatest part for me as a coach.” Hale said.
Hale said being a part of something, whether it’s sports, band, or other activities, helps kids stay active and involved in their education while preparing them for life as a teammate in the work environment. These are the reasons she loves to help provide those opportunities for young people. Hale also sees herself as a guide and supporter in her position at ATR, working as a liaison between management and staff.
“If I can be an influence and provide support and guidance coworkers need, and it helps us do better work, I’ll be a cheerleader any day.” Hale said.
Hale’s passion for helping people fuels her busy days at INL and with coaching. She shared that an INL training experience called Outward Mindset Training changed her life and view of people, which also contributed to making her a better coach and employee at ATR.
“I highly recommend the Outward Mindset Training. It makes you think of what people go through and how we can best interact with them,” Hale said. “It’s important to get to know people right away and find a connection where you can grow with them. There’s always so much to learn.”
Hobbies are fulfilling, and fulfilled people make more productive employees. Hobbies unearth hidden skills, alleviate stress, unite you with others, and improve quality of life — all things that will help you function better at work. See other stories about Idaho National Lab employees.