I had a lot of teachers and coaches in my high school years that I am grateful for, but none so much as my cross-country coach, Jack Lintz.
I could call him Coach, but we all just called him Jack. Some people might think that a team calling a coach by his first name would lead to a lack of respect, but that was not the case with Jack. Maybe that was because it was hard to disrespect a guy in his forties who could still outrun most of his very talented high school team.
Going by his first name was not the only thing that distinguished Jack from a lot of other coaches. He was calm and soft-spoken, and not given to profane-laced tirades if we were performing poorly. He motivated the team, but he also expected that you could motivate yourself. The training he provided us was fantastic, and we all knew that if we put the work in we would be good. For some of us, being trusted and treated in an adult manner was revelatory, and those of us who were competitors blossomed. Jack’s methods were hard to argue with. Our very small but very driven team managed to win back-to-back state championships in Ohio, and one of my teammates was an individual state champion.
Running for Jack was great training for life. We learned that it takes time and training to become good, and that advanced preparation is important for meeting goals. Jack introduced us to mental training methods such as visualization that have proven valuable for success in the rest of life. I certainly do not run 500 miles in a summer any more, but I still get out enough to stay fit, and my positive experiences running for Northmont High School are part of why I still love to run. Many of Jack’s runners have gone on to run in college, and most have gone on to good lives. I am sure that many of them feel the same gratitude towards him that I do.