I am writing this blog with a heavy heart. Bob Cole was my high school coach I referred to in my first blog. He was my Geography teacher when I was a freshman in high school. Every day Coach would try and talk me into coming out for the cross country team. I was a scrawny 13 year old freshman who ran track in junior high but was never very good and quite honestly didn't like to run cause I didn't like to hurt. Coach made it sound appealing enough to convince me and a couple other guys to join the team and I really didn't even know what I had agreed to but I thought if it involved Bob Cole, it was going to be enjoyable. As they saying goes, you get out of it what you put into it. I didn't put too much in the first year and that was what I got out of it. Didn't matter to Coach though. You couldn't tell I wasn't doing well because every time I ran a PR he was as excited for me as he was for every other athlete we had. Coach had a unique was of pulling a group of "misfits" together. I definitely fit into that category. I improved by about 3 minutes in the 5K between my freshman and sophomore year and started to have fun with the sport. It didn't hurt that we had a great leader who was actually making running fun and a great group of friends. Coach had truly created a team. By the time we were seniors, we felt like we could do big things. Coach led us to a Midland County title and the team qualified for the state finals for the first time in school history. I still remember looking at his face in the Ogemaw High School gym, smile just a beaming for what we had accomplished.
I later had the opportunity to coach with him for 2 years and I learned a lot from him. We were fortunate enough to have some great athletes and actually even had a state champion mile relay team. He and I were a great team because he was always open to what I had to say and those that know me, know I often have a lot to say. This past year, I was asked to write a letter of recommendation for Coach to support his Midland County Hall of Fame nomination. Coach was inducted into the Hall with the Class of 2010. An honor he definitely deserved. The outpouring of support from this unfortunate incident shows just what kind of man he was and how many lives he has touched.
Over the past few days, I have had a lot of mixed emotions. I really have not been motivated to go out and run. This situation just seems so unfair! I had actually thought about hanging up the shoes, even as important as it has been to me. Today, while I was out for a 10 miler and it hit me. The last thing he would want me to do is quit. I have never DNFed from a race and the 2011 season is a race. I will dedicate this season to Coach. I had a great year running last year and that will be nothing compared to what I plan to do this year. Here is to you Coach Bob!