Sunday, June 14, 2009

11 miles and many, many years ago

It's a run that has always stayed with me. It's a run I will never forget. I had just gotten the boot from the K.U. cross country team. For reasons I can't recall I made the trek over the hill from Memorial Stadium where Coach Bob Timmons had just delivered the bad news to Lawrence High School where I had graduated just four months before.

I found my young acquaintance Jon Blubaugh aching to go for a long run. Though he was just a freshman in high school, I knew him by reputation as an up and coming 800 meter runner. That run would cement a lifelong friendship. One other older guy joined us that day. He was the new Lawrence High basketball coach. His name was Bob Frederick.

We went 11 miles that day sharing stories and enjoying each others company. I can still remember Coach Frederick's shock near the end of the run to my confession of occasional marijuana use. It drew a pretty shock rebuke. For some reason I was offended my his words but instead thought that here was a serious, upright, kind of guy.

What's sad now is that both Bob and Jon are dead. Jon was a state champion, an outstanding student leader at Kansas, who drowned in a hot tub after a night of serious partying in 1988. He wasn't even 30 years old. It's a death that took me years to get over. Jon and I shared many incredible runs and adventures together.

Bob Frederick's life went on an incredible arch. I covered his first year as the hoops coach at LHS doing the games on radio. It was an undersized team that overachieved. Coach was on a career path to overachieve eventually becoming the athletic director at Kansas and was directly responsible for the complete restoration of Kansas basketball to national glory when he hired Roy Williams.

I'd see Bob running from time to time or at the Kansas Relays where we would exchange pleasantries. Injuries finally left Bob to just one athletic outlet, cycling. Unfortunately he had a habit of getting into some bad wrecks. One last Thursday on the streets of Lawrence took his life.

I still miss my friend Jon and the community at the University of Kansas will miss Dr. Bob Frederick.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Rink, what does this mean : "to get the boot", I think maybe this means "to be rejected" but I why in this case for running ? Merci Marc-Antoine