"If we don't take advantage of this opportunity in Indonesia," Rosandich says, "the Russians and the Chinese will. Of the 20 coaches that Indonesia hired to prepare for the Fourth Asian Games, 14 were from Communist bloc nations, one was from India and only five were from the U.S. I'm not the only American coach that's been to Asia, I want to emphasize that. There have been over 40 since the war. And I'm not the only one recruiting for this program. Wes Santee is working Kansas and Missouri. Fred Wilt is scouring the Midwest, Browning Ross is working Philadelphia, Bobby Ackerman, the Indonesian basketball coach, is doing the San Francisco area and Hugh Stewart, the Indonesian tennis coach, is helping in Los Angeles. And the 40 coaches who contributed articles to the Asian Track and Field Coaches Association Journal, which I put together, are all lending a hand. That book was one of the biggest breaks we got. No one was paid. There are 413 pages, and my wife typed every page. Ten thousand copies were sold throughout Southeast Asia at $3 a copy. Bill Bowerman, the track coach at Oregon, calls it the single most complete journal he's ever seen.
"The Russian coaches are technically and scientifically sound," Rosandich continues, "but that's not the answer in Indonesia. Because they lack flexibility, they fail. We improvise and adjust. We have the free-and-easy approach in working with people. The way we get our points is, essentially, the humanism of our approach. The Russians said they were friends but they didn't mix. They never invited the Indonesians into their homes to listen to their music, like I do, and play with the kids. But they're standing on the sidelines if we fail."
Rosandich, with his friendly, eager, gung-ho approach, has captured the fancy of the Asians. His modus operandi is not, however, for the squeamish or weak. He has, for example, graciously dined on hot monkey brains plucked from the skulls of living monkeys. He has spent nights in longhouses with a thousand human heads hanging from the rafters. "Once in a while one still goes," he says, "but you should see those headhunters run and jump!" He has gone into the boondocks and held clinics, giving away 5� notebooks for trophies, which, he says, the kids value more than they would an Olympic medal.
I went on a jungle bash in Sarawak once," he said the other day, while flying to Corvallis, Ore., where he was to lecture at Oregon State University. "It was designed to drive me into the ground. I had a full field pack, four days' rations, a Bren gun on my back. The Iban Rangers, crack native constabulary, and I climbed a million hills, and I threw up on top of every one, while the rangers ran back down at port arms, shouted back, 'Look, Mr. Tom, 9.3 [at the time the world record for the 100-yard dash],' and ran up the hill again at port arms! I survived and all in all I scored a lot of points. I love Asia. I can do more good out there for mankind, for America, for Asia. But someday I want to come home and teach Asian history in a small college, coach track and field, grow a flower garden—in Indonesia the hibiscus blooms every day—and work on my book. It's called Have Track Shoes, Will Travel."
Rosandich prepped for Asia at Wisconsin State and in the Marine Corps. At Wisconsin State he majored in history and physical education, minored in political science, played end on the football team, swam and ran track. His best event was the 110-yard high hurdles; his best time: 14.6. Kuda, one of Rosandich's blood brothers, is also a hurdler and did 14.6 in the Asian Games. "Very respectable time," Rosandich says, smiling. Rosandich served for eight years in the Marines and was, at one time, the All-Marine track and field coach. While at Quantico in 1956 he founded, organized and directed the Marine Corps Relays, now one of the major East Coast meets. He coached Wes Santee, Bob Mathias, Javelin Thrower Al Cantello and Hurdler Josh Culbreath. "I learned everything from these people," Rosandich says. "You couldn't help but learn. But no matter how good an athlete's kinesthetic sense is he can't see himself perform—that's where I came in."
He spent 1958 teaching history and coaching track at Brookfield ( Wis.) High and was profoundly embittered by the experience. "My students had the best of everything," he says, "but they didn't appreciate it. One time a letter sweater meant a good deal; now the symbol of prestige is an automobile. In a compulsory class you're teaching 10% of the kids, 50% of them are just tolerating you, and you're ramming it down the throats of the other 40%. The day you announce an exam you know just who is going to be absent. In Asia the kids walk 30 miles through the jungle if they hear a test is going to be given. Even if they know they're not going to do well, they come. They want to test their knowledge. And one of the reasons Asians have made such strides in track and field is legs. They've walked and walked in the jungle, not cruised aimlessly about in an automobile. What do American kids have legs for? To step on the gas pedal.
"My best boy in Indonesia," Rosandich says, "is Mo Saregat, who's going to go to the University of Oregon. He does 10.3 for the 100 meters, 14.3 for the hurdles, 6 feet 5 in the high jump and 25 for the broad jump. I've had vaulters who went from 10 to 13 feet in six months. I had a boy, Pattisini, 18, straight out of the Moluccas, skinny, training for the steeplechase. I dreamed up the idea to run races at half time at soccer games to promote track. One day we thought we'd put on a steeplechase. Pattisini was petrified. He got to the first water barrier, got up on the bar and froze. Finally he put his hands together as though he were praying and gracefully dived head-first into the water. I thought he had drowned. He came on, Pattisini. Did 9:49. That's pretty respectable. An Indonesian record.
"I had a marathon runner. For the national championships we were setting up the stations where the runners stop and drink some fruit juice with salt in it. This boy said he wanted a chicken leg waiting for him at each station. I tried to explain that it was hard to digest a chicken leg when you're running a marathon. No go. He believed chicken legs somehow replaced the spent power in his legs. He did 2:24, damn good time for the tropics. In Indonesia everyone wants to run the marathon. They get a police escort, the streets are blocked off—sirens, red lights, the whole deal. You're a big guy if you run the marathon in Indonesia. The only other guy that gets that treatment is Sukarno."
The people who sign up with the Peace Corps for the Indonesia project will, essentially, work in groups of three: one man specializing in track and field, another in swimming, a third in basketball. Before they depart for Indonesia they will be given a 12-week course on the campus of a U.S. university. The curriculum will include the Indonesian language (Rosandich claims it's a snap), culture and history, refresher courses in physical education, American history and, if Rosandich has his way, carpentry. According to a Peace Corps release, volunteers "will have to build homemade sports equipment; supervise the clearing, building and design of athletic fields, basketball courts and improvised swimming pools. They will also have to teach, coach and organize all levels of competitions; develop a mass physical education and sports program from the elementary school level upward, and scout and select talent for the national teams and for training in the Indonesian Sports Academy." Their base pay will be $75 a month, which will be held in escrow in the U.S. until the completion of their two-year contract. In Indonesia, they will receive living allowances and walking-around money.
"Wanted!" Rosandich said one night last week as he wearily drove a rented car through the rain back to Portland. "Thirty-two red-blooded Americans to tame the headhunters! Tiger Tommy wants you! What am I getting? A varsity swimming coach and his wife, who also teaches physical education; two assistant track coaches; a starting fullback, a 6-foot 9-inch basketball star. Eight mature guys, vets, in the San Francisco area alone are confirmed. Here I am looking for the maximum-minimum. And I'm getting the maximum-maximum. I'm amazed. I didn't know there were exceptional Americans like these."