A Coach’s Influence Beyond the Field

Coach's influenceWhat is a coach’s influence?

I just came across this lovely tribute in Runner’s World to cross country coach Elmer Swanson written by his student, running legend Amby Burfoot.

Here is his description of Swanson:

A good throwback, despite the nasty chewing-tobacco habit, which he gave up a year or two later. Elmer was a gentleman, a family man, a great storyteller, and an always-reassuring presence….

We Wesleyan runners particularly appreciated his warmth, calm demeanor, and unswerving dedication to our pursuits….

In November, 1966, I took the first plane trip of my life with Elmer and attended my first National meet (Wheaton, Illinois), then called the NCAA Small College Cross-Country Championships. “Have fun and hurry back,” he said just before the start, a remark he repeated to thousands of Wesleyan harriers through the years.

He goes on to describe the critical role coaches have in player’s lives. Check it out .

Swanson,who had not been a competitive runner himself, coached an impressive array of successful athletes, including Jeff Galloway.

The article in Runner’s World led me to the time Burfoot wrote about another coach of his who he credits for much of his success in running and beyond.