Head Coach – Cross Country, Winter and Spring Track & Field (Distance – 800m, 1600m, 3200m)
My running career started in junior high school as a 8th grader in 1968. I was a sprinter because only 9th graders were allowed to run the half mile, but I wanted to run the 880. For some reason that is unknown to me, I thought I could do it. I don’t know how, nor when that thinking started. Maybe it was when my Dad gave my brother and I a dime to run around the block or when he told us that as a 23-year-old all-star center back on his soccer team in 1940, his friends challenged him to run a mile under 5 minutes in street shoes in town, he did and won a Klondike bar.
As a 9th grader, I ran the 880 and set the junior high school record running 2:11. As a sophomore, I set the high school XC course record and finished 10th in the county race. That indoor season, I ran my first competitive mile at Slippery Rock in 5 minutes. My first outdoor season, I decided to become a miler, every kid wanted to be a miler because of Jim Ryan, the high school phenom who ran 3:55 in high school in the late 60’s. It was the glamor event in track and field at the time and I would argue it remains so. Over the next 2 summers, I worked 2 nights a week at my cousin’s Eat’n Park, getting home at 1:30am while running 60-80 miles/week, unknown to me a disaster was forthcoming. Because I was not getting enough rest, I developed mononucleosis during preseason in each of my remaining XC high school seasons. I couldn’t train for 6 weeks and lost the opportunity to compete in XC. Fortunately, I did retain a degree of fitness from my summer training and by the end of my sophomore season I ran a mile in 4:38. By the end of my junior outdoor season I ran a 1:54 split on our 2 mile relay…why?, I dropped the baton on the exchange, took off and slowly closed the gap on the leaders. Later in the same meet, I ran a mile PR of 4:26 under the lights on a warm May evening. We qualified to run the 2 mile relay at states, but did not medal.
As a senior, we had several boys on our team who were pretty good. A 2-miler and our 2 mile relay team. We were district champs that year in the mile, 2 mile and 2 mile relay. At States, our 2-miler was second in 9:11, we won the 2 mile relay with the 8th fastest time in the country, in 7:48, and I finished second running a 4:17 mile.
Then I went off to college at the University of Oklahoma with a scholarship. When I arrived on campus, I could not train for three weeks because the preseason physical revealed my blood pressure was a little high, probably because I was 1100 miles away from home and a little out of sorts, although I felt fine. When I returned to practice, 3 weeks of not training caused me to struggle attempting to keep up with my teammates, my confidence eroded. I had supportive teammates and coaches, but my confidence did not return until our coach reviewed an individual custom plan for each of us at the end of my junior year. He told me he had confidence in me, that’s all I needed to hear. Our team qualified for the NCAA XC Championships, I was the 8th man all year long and ran in a race leading up to the NCAA Championships and bettered the time of our 7th runner. The coach pulled me aside the next day and said he had already entered the team a week before my breakthrough race, I was not on the entry list and he apologized. Oh well, I should have run faster earlier in the season! With improved confidence that carried over into my senior outdoor season, I ran a best of 4:08 in the mile.
My high school and college experience was a lesson to never give up, never! What I learned in college about training propelled me to learn more about physiology. My interest to help others was cultivated by my caring parents. These interests, enhanced through education, culminated in a career as a practicing physical therapist, business owner and coach. Many people helped me along the way: namely my parents, brother, coaches, teammates and my wife, Marian.
When you do the required work and have great support, goals are achievable.
’79 BS Education, University of Oklahoma
’86 MS Exercise Physiology, University of Pittsburgh
’92 AS Physical Therapy Assistant, Harcum College
’99 MS Physical Therapy, Neumann University