Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I'm so proud of you seniors and your speeches. Every season I wonder how we will replace those seniors we are losing ... Its going to be especially tough this time around.

Here's my speech if you couldnt hear it well enough through allergy conditions ...

Greetings and welcome to the 2008 Cross country banquet.

First, let me just start by reminding everyone that this is allergy season. I’ve been having trouble with the high pollen counts and dust levels so if you hear a sniffle, just try to ignore it.

As I said earlier, please give a big thanks to the Kassuba’s and Hunts for all they’ve done for you r kids this year. As a coach, I’m in charge of workouts and busses and time schedules and racing. The Hunts and Kassuba’s have done so much over the last four years to help with camp, fundraisers, team dinners, banquet food, driving to Portage, and driving to the State Finals…. Many of these extra’s wouldn’t be possible without their help.

Also, I’d like to thank my family for letting me be your cross country coach. I’ve missed family weekends while I’ve been away at weekend meets. I’ve missed football games my son has played in. I missed sweetest day and forgot to send Mrs. Kalember flowers … I’ll try to make up for that … but thanks to my family.

First let me call up the FRESHMEN. Lucas Avenall, Sean Hope, Jake Pasternak, Zack Kammeyer, Nicole Wehner, Paige Hypio, Megan Borgeson, Dawn Pagels and Caila Cole. This is the future of Gaylord’s cross country program… These guys and gals have had a great learning experience. They’ve adapted to the rigor of running many more mile than they did in middle school and they’ve done it well. Back in the 8th grade they called 3 miles a LONG run. Now, they’re calling it a warmup run. Lucas, Sean and Jake all had turns on our varsity top 7 and earned their varsity letter as freshman. Very few boys can do this and it is a sign that boys team is going to be a lot tougher in the coming years. Megan and Paige also had some races where they competed with our varsity girls and did a great job for us. Dawn stepped in to replace our two graduating seniors and did an amazing job as our 5th girl. She had her biggest races and best times at regional and state and next year she’ll be earning all-regional honors with her experience gained this year. I’m hoping that over the winter and summer these young runners will catch the running “bug.” I hope they realize that greatness does not come from just participating in cross country. You can’t just show up and expect to be good. Greatness comes from running and running and running and running and living a life that is fitness oriented. Congratulations on a great first year and adapting to the tougher training.

Sophomores – come on up. We have Bryan Slocum, Joe Jones, Anna Kassuba, Amanda Olds, Krystin Dreyer, Cody Smith, Wade McMillion, Drew Pichan, Andy Frakes, Tyler Winowiecki, Zac and Caleb Wagar, and Sarah Drummond. These sophomores have improve a huge amount over last year. Bryan had a huge year improving almost TWO MINUTES over his freshman times. He stepped up in the big meets with big performances as our 3rd man. I believe Brian has improved so much because he’s caught the bug. Yesterday, the first day the season is officially over, Brian stopped by my room to get a workout plan for the winter. He wants to start training now… this is champions are made. Great season Brian. Joe Jones was new to running at GHS this year, almost like a freshman would be, but over the season he proved he was no freshman. He steadily improved from 13th to 10th to 8th and finally 5th man on the team. Wade had a rough start to the season but decided he really wanted a varsity spot and earned it by the time Elk Rapids rolled around. Andy Frakes is a new person this season compared to last. He’s now a disciple of exercise. He came into the season in better shape than he left it last year and it showed with his HUGE 5 minute improvement in times. I’m proud of your effort to make yourself the best you can be Andy. Tyler, Drew, Cody, Zac and Caleb finished this season with some great times. First, they all would have been varsity runners for several other teams in our regional or Alpena in our conference. They worked hard and showed us that they could give it their all. Caleb’s best workout of the year showed he had enough heart to finish as the 4th best on the team on the last 400m interval we ran – an impressive feat. Anna Kassuba and Amanda Olds were almost identical twins last year in their results and both improved markedly this season. Anna’s times and places were better in nearly every race and her state finals finish of 19:39 was by far her best race of the season. Amanda went from our 4-5th girl to our #1 girl in 4 of our races this season, ending with an all-state finish last weekend. Her 19:01 and 29th place ranks her as the 13th fastest runner in GHS history. And, now the good news…. We have her for two more years. Krystin Dreyer nailed down a varsity position this year after logging countless summer miles. Krystin is the type of CC runner every coach loves to have. She listens, she’s coachable, she’s smart and she puts the team before herself. Sarah Drummond was our JV captain this season and did a great job of leading them and guiding them at our JV races.

Juniors – Jayden and Savannah and Spencer and Colin. Spencer is new to GHS this year as a transfer from the UP. I almost made him a varsity runner the entire season based on this alone since I like the UP so much. I look for Spencer to be one of our top 7 next year with some serious summer running. Colin is the team scholar athlete. He’s not here to win races, he’s here to stay in shape, work hard, be ready for wrestling and tutor anyone who needs help on their homework. I love colin’s work ethic on the playing field and in the classroom. Both Jayden and Savannah played very important roles on our team this year as varsity athletes. Jayden was our #1 man in 5 of the boys varsity races and just missed qualifying for the state finals by 2 seconds. He improved over last season by an average of 30 seconds or so in every race and I look for him to be even tougher next year as a senior. He works his tail off all summer and the boys have elected him team captain. They value his work ethic and they know his quiet leadership style is a “lead by example” situation. Savannah had some issues with shinsplints this season but was within 20 seconds of her best time at the state finals. As a solid 6th runner she also beat many other teams 5th runner, making our margin of victory a bit better.

SENIORS – come on up. Wow, I’ve had a pleasure of coaching these athletes for four years. Its been a great four years and I wonder how we will ever replace them.

Jake and Dan. These two guys are the comic relief of the team. Whenever the going gets tough or the tension gets a little thick, we can always expect some prank or joke or tight fitting piece of clothing to lighten the mood. Its an important part of having fun on a team and I thank you guys for this. Also, they might have joined CC to “just get in shape for wrestling” but both have been serious varsity runners for us in many meets. They’ve got the will to win and always give their all.

Andrew has been the team captain for three years straight, and this alone says something about how the other boys on the team view his leadership. He leads by example, always giving his all and always putting forth a supreme effort. He is a two time all-regional and two time all conference finisher. He, like Colin is also a true scholar athlete. He takes his studies (but not necessarly always his homework) as seriously as he does his running. I know Andrew’s season did not end the way he’d have liked it to end. But, this is another lesson learned on the playing field. Sometimes the goals we set for ourselves are just out of reach, at least for now. I have a feeling that Andrew will achieve the athletic goals for himself someday soon – I know he will, he will make it happen through sheer force of will. I respect your work ethic and your desire Andrew – its stronger than nearly any athlete I’ve coached in 20 years.
Amber and Sammy have been together for the last 6 years of running so I might as well just talk about them together. They each have earned a combined total of 5 times all-state, 7 times all-regional, and 7 times all-conference honors. They rank as the #3 and #4 fastest girls ALL-TIME in Gaylord history. They both run all summer to be the best that they can be during the season. They have been a huge part of our success as a team and played an instrumental role in our state championship last year. But, it is not these honors which distinguish them from the rest of these people. Let me give you a quick example of why they are so special. At the Clare invite we run 4 separate races as grade levels with the seniors last. Before the freshman girls ran, Amber and Sammy went over and gave them some advice, talked to them and sent them off with confidence. They did the same with the sophomores and the juniors. They could have stretched and warmed up on their own and focused on their own race, instead they focused their energy on the TEAM. Its this type of TEAM first attitude that sets these girls apart. I could go on and on with more about these two young ladies but I’ll just let their 4 years speak for itself…. Well done girls.

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