Mentors

Coach Knippy with the JV GirlsAs many of you know, I am a high school cross country and track coach. The way I came around to this line of work is a bit circuitous – like many of the best journeys in life tend to be. The short story is a friend of mine, who I had run with in high school, invited me to coach at another school in the same district several years back and I have been in love with coaching ever since.

But it’s not easy.

I have worked hard to learn more and fill in the gaps littering my running knowledge. Sure, I’ve taken classes and gone to seminars but nothing has been as valuable as the on-the-job mentoring I’ve gotten through other coaches.

One such coach is Bill Knipmeyer. I met him last year when I first came to Littleton High School. A bit rough around the edges, Bill (or Knippy as most of the kids and other coaches call him) has been a fixture in high school running for almost 40 years. Honestly, I imagine that he has forgotten more about running than I may ever know.

While he can be somewhat brusque at times, the kids adore him. “When’s Knippy getting here?” “Where’s Knippy – I have a question.” “Knippy, what should I do about (insert specific running problem)?” He has answers for it all.

As a new-to-Littleton coach last year, he patiently taught me running routes around the school. This included the famed Knippy Loop, a 1.25 mile route near the school which we memorialized in our First Ever Knippy Loop Challenge. (For those who are curious, the challenge was held during a practice and involved pitting evenly divided teams on the cross country squad against one another to see who could run the most loops in order to earn “fabulous prizes.” It was a silly way to get some speed work in that allowed even our most inexperienced runners to feel competitive.)

Bill readily offered advice and continued to be a wonderful sounding board for my ideas. His historical knowledge of both the school and its cross country program was invaluable. I truly appreciated his insight on so many issues that popped up during the season.

A few weeks ago, I learned that he is moving to the Western Slope. In doing so, he will fall short of his goal of coaching track and cross country for 40 years in Littleton Public Schools. It’s a shame but he is on to new things. And while we will miss him, the Littleton High School running program is all the better for having had his involvement these many years.