He was a celebrity in our town — a former football star at Colorado State who went on to play in the N.F.L. for a couple teams, including the Broncos.
I met him when he coached the Junior Olympics track team during the summer in Fort Collins. Some of his N.F.L. friends from other states sent their kids to be coached by him, especially in hurdles and sprints. Consequently, the Fort Collins summer track program was very good. One of my offspring, who had just finished 8th grade, was on the team. So was his youngest son, Jeremy. I don’t want to say the last name in respect for Jeremy’s privacy. Hereinafter, Jeremy’s father shall be known as Dad.
So the next spring, at the state high school championship track meet, Jeremy’s Dad and I were sitting together, watching the various events. Because my daughter was a freshman then, I had not attended the state meet the prior year. Jeremy was a senior at the same high school, doing very well, so I assumed Jeremy did well the year before.
I asked his Dad, “How did Jeremy do last year?” It was not a surprising question, but the answer was.
“Jeremy did not run last year. He did not turn in a school project in photography, so he did not compete in the state track meet.”
“What? Jeremy was academically ineligible just for one elective project? It doesn’t seem like that would affect his overall grade point that much,” I commented.
Dad explained, “No, it was not the teacher who prevented Jeremy from competing at state. It was me. Jeremy needs to learn to be responsible.”
As I recall, Jeremy won three individual events his senior year, as well as running on a relay team that also won. He was thus a champion in four events. At least a couple of the events were state records. One of the records tied a national high school record. The person who held the record that Jeremy tied had gone on to be a champion sprinter in the Olympics. Fast company!
Jeremy was as fast as any high school runner in the nation. I bet he would have done very well in the previous year’s state track meet, had he competed. He probably would have won those same events. If only his Dad had not interfered.
Jeremy won something else his senior year — a scholarship to C.S.U. in both football and track. His Dad certainly had something to do with that, and I do not mean pulling a few strings.
Besides contributing some very athletic genes, and coaching him, Jeremy’s Dad taught him some valuable life lessons. He taught him about being a champion.