Letter to My High School Coach

I recently learned my high school cross country coach had major surgery. After writing the letter, I thought I would share it with my readers, because this person had such a huge impact on my life.

Hi Coach,

Through the miracle of Facebook, I received an email from Adam Zajac, who received an email from John Healy, explaining that you just had quadruple bypass surgery. I hope you are recovering well!

In case you’re wondering, I now live in Arizona with my wife and two children, ages 7 and 4. I think we may have another runner in Seth; he has strong distance potential. Lael, the younger one, seems to be more of a gymnast.

As you may have guessed, I’ve moved a lot over the years. Here is where I’ve been, in order: Indiana University, Arizona, Florida (where I met my wife), California, Chicago and then Arizona again.

As I planned since high school, I’ve mostly been following a career in journalism. The exception being the two years I spent in Chicago helping out my brother with his future’s brokerage.

I currently work for myself trying to help journalists find jobs. More than 150,000 have lost their jobs in the last two years.

You will be glad to know that I still run, though not as frequently as I would like. Taking care of the kids (and work) severely cuts into that time. I also hike a lot, which is why I’ve favored western states most of my life.

I don’t know if you remember when you recruited me in junior high, but you asked, “What sport do you most want to do?” I said “Cycling.” You said, “There is no cycling team at Hoffman Estates, but you should join the cross country team.” Or something like that. As a runner, you helped me build confidence that I desperately needed, and I thank you for that.

During my 20s, I finally starting bicycling in earnest. In fact, I took six bicycling tours around the nation, sometimes with my brother and sometimes alone. Here are the routes:

  • San Francisco to L.A.
  • Fort Collins, Colorado, up the Poudre River and then down through Laramie and back to Fort Collins.
  • Rochester, N.Y., to the Maine coast and back. (more or less)
  • Seattle to Eugene, Oregon.
  • Lake Louise, Canada, down to Glacier, through Montana, Idaho and Washington before taking the ferry over to Victoria, Canada. (that was something like 1,200 miles.)
  • Portland, Oregon, to San Francisco.

I’m telling you about my tours because I don’t think I would have accomplished them had I not been a cross country runner. Those trips to Lake Geneva really helped! The real irony is that I rarely bike ride any more, but I still run and hike.

Because of my cross country experiences, I have been a lifelong athlete, and I thank you for that, too. I still hear you when I run or bike, “LEVI! Get moving!” (I think you used stronger language that that.)

Okay, enough of that sappy stuff. I hope your recovery is a Swift one.


Brett Levy (aka LEVI!)

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