Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A long line of footprints left behind

So as I started out writing posts about Grimes, I was having trouble getting the words quite right. I took some time to shift through old scrapbooks and yearbooks. And everyone knows you can't pull that stuff out and spend just a few minutes. I read some notes on the cover of my yearbook with this one especially sticking out from the Assistant Pack Leader.

And I asked some others for a few words about Coach Grimes......some footprints left by Coach Grimes:

  • his loping run - he made it look easy. he took such damn long strides that it was hell for short people to keep up.
  • his irritation and aggravation at the members of our team who didn't "get it" and weren't out for track to win. Those that were there for social reasons. (You know the ones on your team I'm talking about!)
  • him nearly killing Shane Stone for hitting me on the inside of the knee with a baseball pitch when they were practicing inside. I had gone to get ice out of the concessions stand before practice and was walking back across the gym. Total accident on Shane's part, but that doesn't mean Grimes didn't flip!
  • speaking of shin splits...I remember telling Grimes how bad they were my sophomore year and him looking at me like "...and?".
  • Grimes leaning across the railing on the final turn at state track.
  • Grimes after a state track race. If he's proud, he couldn't say much. If he wasn't proud, you knew it.
  • Grimes protecting me from Lindsey after practicing hand-offs for the 4X800. Pretty sure he thought there'd be blood on his track. I didn't get the handoff right (duh), Lindsey yelled at me (duh), I threw the baton at her (unwise). Grimes appeared out of nowhere and announced that we probably were done for the day...
  • Most of all, I remember thinking that he had our back...thinking that for those of us who left all we had on the track/street/golfcourse on a daily basis, he'd fight any battle for us. He was like a proud peacock with his chicks. I remember knowing that regardless of talent, no one we competed against was in better shape or better prepared. They might beat us (occasionally), but they never worked harder than we did.
I know that most people referred to him as ‘Grimes’, but he was Dave to me. Sometimes, he was ‘Z’, but only if I really wanted to get his attention. I am not able to find the words to explain his quiet charisma, his strength, and his fearlessness. There was nothing he was afraid of. Nothing. He appeared to be tough as leather, but he relished the idea that his personality was a bit intimidating, especially to the kids. Especially to middle school kids! Those that really knew him understood how soft and tender he really was.
Dave was a giver. He gave to everyone that he came into contact with….his wisdom, his experience, his training philosophies, and his time. I appreciated that I was his priority when we were together, because even though we spent hours on the phone every day, we didn’t see each other until the weekends. Dave completely underestimated the impact that he had on people. I’m not sure that I’ve ever known anyone who brought as much goodness as Z did to the lives of others. One of the many gifts that he gave to me was teaching me to face my fear and be willing to take a risk by asking this one simple question: “Worst case scenario…what could possibly happen?” His words and encouragement forced me to pursue a new job, which in turn has led to my dream job. Whenever I’m faced with a difficult decision that involves some sort of risk, I can hear his voice in my head asking, “What are you afraid of? What’s the worst that could happen?”
I’ve never experienced a loss similar to losing Dave. One day he was here, living large, and then next he was gone. I’ve learned that some things in this life you don’t ever get over, you simply get through. I knew that he was an organ donor because strangely enough, we had a conversation about our wills and wishes, should something ever happen to either of us. His parents were told that he saved the lives of over 100 by supporting his desire to donate his organs. Organ donation is selfless, because it provides life for another without any sort of recognition. I know Dave wanted to continue to give and his wishes have been fulfilled. Recently, I met the woman who received his heart and I listened to his heart beating strongly in her chest. It was surreal. It might sound strange to say that for the first time in three years, I feel as though he is here, because he is. Still giving.


  1. It's amazing how a great coach's lessons can stick with us through our whole lives. I think anyone who had a great coach will never forget them and all of the time they spent helping shape us-not only as athletes, but as productive and great human beings.

  2. SO perfect. I love it. He sounds so much like my ag teacher, and your relationship with him reminds me of mine with my ag teacher. I love your line about how if he was proud he couldn't say much, but if he was not you knew it. Mr. Franklin was totally that way too!