This is the down time for me in December; time to focus on the family, time to connect with alumni active in track and field in college and alumni no longer competing who are still a part of my life.
When you coach athletes and break them down physically and then build them up, you look into their souls and they into you. The coach-athlete relationship is unique in that you are not their parent and you are not their friend, yet you will find yourself being both parent and friend at times.
As I opened my Christmas cards, I found a note and photo of Tricia (Braun) Fox and her four beautiful daughters. I am touched that she remembers to keep me informed of her family and how they are doing. It was 1979 when she first ran in the state meet.
I spent Sunday praying with another athlete over his dying father at the hospital. I was so impressed with his maturity and composure on a decision he would soon have to make. He pointed to his wife’s stomach, also a former runner who is pregnant and said, “See what you get when you get somebody out for track.”
The one thing the young coaches should know is that your athletes become family whether you know it or not. They will remember how they feel about the sport more than what they do or did.