Wednesday, November 18, 2015

I'm Going To Call Him "Coach" From Now On

The title "Coach" is one that deserves much more respect in our current world.  But not from me.   I already hold Coach Groves in as high a position as anyone except my parents and grandparents when the guidance of my life is concerned.

Coach Groves being interviewed by yours truly.

No one had as much impact on my personal journey through life other than my family members. He often taught me positive values and rarely taught me what negative values can mean.  Both are very valuable lessons which don't come about easily if no one is there to guide you.  As a lowly walk-on, Coach took as much time with me as others who were recruited.  He met with me individually many times and instilled both praise (occasionally) and criticism (often) of what I was doing.  This rarely had anything at all to do with my running.

Two years ago he summed it up by saying, "Athletics (track and field) is for education and recreation, nothing else. Winning is important only in that you learn more." This was from an 82 year-old coach emeritus who had dedicated his entire working life to track and field coaching.  Powerful stuff really.

And his tradition is being continued at Penn State right now by another coach.
Coach John Gondak.

I first met Coach John Gondak in the meeting room of the Hampton Inn at our Friday night Reunion prior to one of the earlier Coach Groves weekends.  He had just been hired as the distance assistant coach by Coach Sullivan.  He actually took the time to meet with us haggard rabble and even golfed with us.  (He is a very good golfer BTW!) Our admiration began then.

In the intervening years, his blood has gradually turned blue and now he is a full-fledged Nittany Lion.  I quietly lobbied for him when the head coaching job opened up, and I couldn't be happier to see what he is doing for the program.  Integrity, excellence and yes, education, are at the core of his tutelage. May it continue for many more years.I'm going to call him "Coach" from now on, even if he blushes as I do it!

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