Closer and closer. Heroes.
April 14 is the goal date! We're going to make it!
Today I interviewed the high school coach of one of Oregon's most prolific distance runners.
He provided a humble context of the way it was "back in the day" for girls in the state of Oregon.
We also talked about heroes.
I attended the University of Oregon because of Steve Prefontaine and Bill Bowerman and all that history. My personal heroine was Irena Szewinska, the Polish sprinter. The 1976 Olympic champion.
I was a high school sprinter before becoming a middle distance runner at Oregon. I'm guessing not many high school girls, in the 70s, in this country, especially in Turner, Oregon, knew about Irena Szewinska.
I thank my high school history teacher for that. Talk about heroes.
Mr. Deedon was the boys' track and field and cross country coach at Cascade Union High School in Turner, Oregon. Unfortunately he didn’t coach the girls’ team. The girls suffered the beneficent tutelage of a PE instructor and basketball coach who knew, and cared, very little about track and field.
The bulletin board in the back of Mr. Deedon's history homeroom was crammed with pictures of track and field stars from the day. John Carlos. Vince Matthews. Beamon, Ryun, Ghamoudi, Oerter. Szewinska. I was perilously close to achieving an A- in a history class, and scored the extra credit by naming every athlete on the bulletin board, and summarizing the achievements of three.
I read my first issues of Track & Field News in Mr. Deedon's classroom in the 9th grade.
I would love to talk with Mr. Deedon right now. It always bugged him that I could never call him by his first name, Darrell. He was always Mr. Deedon to me. We kept in touch all those years. He died of cancer, the same month and year my youngest brother died in an accident.
Heroes. I miss them both.
I want to give a shout-out to Ellen Schmidt-Devlin's documentary project. Her terrific team organized a reunion of Oregon's 1985 NCAA Championship T&F Team with Oregon's 2012 Indoor Championship T&F Team at Hayward Field during the Pepsi Invitational this Saturday, April 7 at Hayward Field in Eugene.
The meet starts at 10:15 a.m. with the women’s javelin. The 1985/2012 recognition takes place, at this writing, at 12:30 p.m.
If you're interested in Pepsi Invite tickets, or any tickets to Oregon home meets, or know someone who is, donate to my Kickstarter website or just contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will leave your tickets at will-call and provide my cell number.
Thank you for your support.