team was just two years old that fall; he had been our coach from the
beginning. (Our first year—my freshman year, 1972—he had funded us out of his
own pocket.) We were his team and stamped with his personality. Running was for
him more than sport; it was a test of character, a lesson in discipline.
Accordingly, he motivated us not with promises and threats, but through
personal example and by appeal to that part of ourselves that strives for
excellence. He was demanding, obdurate, unrelenting infuriating and inspiring.
We were his team and we ran more for him than we did for the university
It is a weekday
in late September. We meet as usual, at 3:30, at the entrance to Centennial
Park a few blocks west of campus. Alone and in pairs we jog up joking,
spitting. Coach told us yesterday that we will run hill-zippers today, one of
our hardest workouts, so we are talkative and a bit edgy, anticipating the
unpleasantness. He pulls up in his Vega a few minutes later and we surround him
as he scrutinizes us.
"Les, did you
get enough sleep last night?"
seeing that blonde-haired girl? What's her name? Denise?"
you: She's just trouble, nothing but trouble." Here Coach looks down and
shakes his head with mock solemnity, and we laugh.
He finally tells
us to jog the course as a group to warm up. Ten minutes later we are back at
reluctantly. What we would really like to do is postpone this workout