Over the weekend I attended the West Coast Conference XC Championships in Los Angeles, California. As some of you may already know, I ran at Gonzaga University in the 80’s and then I coached there for 4 years. Every year, the Zag Track/XC alumni get together to tell old stories and support the team. Former runners from most every era of the program are there to share in the experience. We are a family and this is our family reunion.
This year was especially memorable. Besides the fact that our men’s and women’s teams performed exceptionally well compared to the previous year, I was stunned by something that some of my former athletes did for me. Mike Myette, Rob Boulds and Pat Hill all ran for me when I coached at Gonzaga. They gave their heart and soul to the program. Although I was only a few years older than them, they followed the planned workouts and gave 110% effort in practices and races. By all rights, they were overachievers with attitudes. When it seemed like nobody else believed what the program could be, they did. After 4 years, I had to leave this coaching job because my young family was beginning to grow and I could not adequately balance the time commitment of coaching with my full time job and my family.
Every year, Mike Myette, one of my former runners, books the location for the event and then announces to the XC alums where it is. His passion towards GUTFXC is evident as he has personally endowed a scholarship that is granted to a member of the team each year. Building on that, he and one of his teammates, Rob Boulds hatched a plan at last year’s West Coast Conference XC Championships in Salt Lake City(last year I was unable to attend). They were going to endow another scholarship and get the rest of the alumni involved in the effort. They planned to raise $50,000 and Mike was going to match every donation dollar for dollar. Rob took the reigns of being the fund raiser and for over a year, he pestered GU alumni to raise the funds. I only learned about these fund raising efforts when the scholarship was announced this weekend. To my utter surprise, and honor, and humility……they dedicated it to me. The GUTFXC alumni family created a scholarship with my name on it. Wow.
Afterwards, I learned the roles that some of the others played. Pat Hill, another former runner of mine stayed close to the fund raising conversation as well as Eric Thompson, a former teammate that I ran with. It was pretty special. Every year, this scholarship will be awarded to a female or male Cross Country runner. Initially, it will be for $2500 (basically, the interest of the principle amount). And, as more people contribute to the scholarship, the annual award amount will grow.
We as Hiprunners are all here because we love to run, and a replaced hip is not going to stop us. I see Gonzaga TFXC much like one of us. Gonzaga doesn’t have a track, so to attract a high caliber runner, they have to attract someone who can look past that obstacle. It helps to have scholarship money available as well. We have a high caliber coach in Pat Tyson (who was actually Steve Prefontaine’s roommate), but the program still isn’t fully funded with scholarships. Even so, the men’s team was ranked for the first time in the history of the program this year (29th). If anyone understands how to get beyond certain obstacles, it is the Hip Runners. This scholarship is a Legacy scholarship. My name is on it. I am a Hip Runner, and you all are part of the Hip Running legacy. I would love to see other Hip Runners join in this legacy. If you feel so inclined (certainly don’t feel obligated), please take a moment to follow the instructions below to grow this scholarship. If you feel like you want to contribute to help build a track, contact me directly, I would love to talk! 🙂
So here are the steps below on how to donate:
1st: Click on this link to go to the giving page for Gonzaga University
4th: Select it, click continue and follow the instructions…..
And for those of you who feel so inclined, I am honored and humbled. I may never know who you are, but the gesture is appreciated.
Hip Brother Tom.