It fills me with great joy and a certain pride to present the following. Just a little longer blog today but please do read in full.
I moved to Joliet, Il in 1990 and took some classes at Joliet Jr. College. The Director of the Wellness Center was a lean fella named John Peterson. This is the tale of our intersection.
John was coaching a precocious young lady from Plainfield HS (Jenny Lisy) and asked if I would join in some of her workouts. My very first introduction to coaching. Culminating in her becoming Plainfield’s first female all state runner by finishing 7th (11:19.79, school record) at the 1991 Illinois 2 Mile State Champs. Jenny came from a background that offered no opportunities. Her accomplishment that season earned her a scholarship to the University of Iowa.
John Peterson revealed to me the satisfaction of helping others achieve their potential. My coaching career has undergone many mentors since 1991 but John lit the fire that has kept me going for the last 27 years.
I knew back then that John was a stud 5000 runner in the mid to late 1960s. I also knew that he earned his Doctorate from the University of New Mexico. And that his mentor and colleague was Joe Vigil. They established a life long friendship that holds true today.
John sent me an email earlier this year, asking for me to give him a call. I hadn’t heard from him in 20 years so was very happy to oblige. We spoke of old times, our family’s, our lives. He told me that he was attending a reunion this summer, something very special to his career and to our sport. I reached out again yesterday seeking his blessing for this story and John was gracious enough to offer the following:
“The 2 day event was a gathering of world record holders, American record holders, Olympians, Olympic gold, silver, and bronze medalists, as well as international mountain runners. Other than the Olympics, I believe, this gathering had more veteran distance runners that set the pace for the American running revolution. Deena Kastor and her husband gave one of the best running presentation for 300+ running enthusiasts that I have ever heard. Adams State University put on a once in a lifetime celebration commemorating the first American Olympic Marathon trials 50 years ago (1968). All participants in the trial 50 years ago were invited. I was one of those who ran in the trials. We were treated as pioneers in the running movement. By the way, Adams State University leads the NCAA division I and II with 54 national men’s/women’s cross country/track and field championships.
Front row, left to right:
Frank Shorter, Kenny Moore, George Young, Billy Mills, Joe Vigil, Steve Gachupin
Bob Deines, Dave Costill, Bill Clark, Amby Burfoot, Bill Clark’s wife, who was a marathon princess, Hal Higdon, John Peterson, Tom Heinonen, and I think Jan Frisby.
At the banquet there were many other runners. The picture was taken at a video taping session where each person talked a few minutes. Amby Burfoot took the video for historical purposes!”
I still have John’s hand written training philosophy and ten week outline for Jenny. And a friendship that has lasted almost 30 years.