“Just like I know that there is a reason the sky is blue (wavelength of light and scattering and all that) I’m sure that there is a reason. But unlike a simple principle of physics, trying to unravel this mystery is a whole lot harder than trying to unlock the secret of the atom.” — Steve Morley, when asked why he runs.
For many of us, there reaches a time when we are not in our prime or we have simply reached a point where we feel a need to pass along our knowledge. The tradition is as old as time, the experienced lending a guiding hand to the new generation.
There are many complex characters in the world. Those who are hard to figure out or who are simply a round peg in a square world. Steve Morley is one of these individuals. Someone who I consider a friend but am never sure I will figure out his sarcastic character. Steve says he likes tell it like it is. He also claims hanging with two other sarcastic friends doesn’t help. But there is another side to Steve as well, when the sarcasm dies away a more thoughtful and giving side appears.
Steve is a runner and a coach.
Steve says he started running in school — he would bolt at the sound of the bell to be in the front door before his favourite TV show “Emergency” started. His real running and racing began back in 1979 and he was guided by well-known running books, The Complete Book of Running by Jim Fixx, and the Competitive Road Racer’s Handbook. “I still have both, and I have read both from cover to cover many times.” Steve’s sarcasm and sometimes rough edges may be due to being defensive. “I was picked on as a kid. We didn’t call it being bullied. I was picked on for several reasons. I suspect mostly because I was pathologically shy. I’m sure the reason I started running in the first place may have been to get away from the people who were picking on me. It eventually turned into a very freeing activity where I was completely in charge and nothing bad could happen to me. I became a track rat as a result of summer track. I felt like I fit in, even though I wasn’t very good. Everyone else was doing the same thing.”
Getting support from his parents, early encouragement from a British WWII veteran who would yell from the sidelines and early coaching from a friend’s father, Steve’s running progressed.
5 Miles 26:58
8 Miles 45:20
Growing up outside of Nova Scotia’s capital of Halifax, coaching was hard to come by. Steve longed to be coached by the well-known Kevin Heisler (now member of the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame) who coached some of the best runners in the province. Coaching and running seemed to go hand-in hand for Steve, while still looking for his own guidance he acted as his own high school coach while still a student.
Steve went on to win many staples of the Nova Scotia running calendar (ex. Natal Day races, Hantsport 6 Miler, Wolfville 8 miler, Valley Half Marathon, Joe Murray 6 miler, Bert Corkum 5 miler). Steve became a regular in the Halifax and Nova Scotia running community. After accepting a job at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Steve got to finally run for Kevin Heisler and says he learned a lot as a runner and future coach.
I met Steve in Halifax, and have fond memories of some quick-paced runs from the local running shop (Aerobics First). We are now both older. I write, Steve coaches. We have matured, grown and changed. I got hold of Steve and asked him to tell me about his running and why he coaches.
Why did you did you start coaching?
“To see the smiles on their faces.”
“To learn from my athletes. I was coaching a girl named Donna and one day she was racing on the track and she had this big smile on her face, and I yelled to her, ‘stop fooling around.’ She kept smiling. She won the race. The smile relaxed her. I’m not known to yell at races, but my athletes will tell you that the one thing I do yell is for them to smile while they race. This is very well known and so much so that as I made my return to track racing to do the steeplechase this summer, they were all there and all of them in unison yelled at me to smile. I looked over at them and yelled at them to warm up for their own race.”
“Brent was my athlete who started racing the 3000m in Grade 9, by the time he was in Grade 12, it was very apparent that he was a quiet leader. He had just won his first high school race, which was also one of his last high school races. They were giving out the medals and while he was waiting for his, he was talking with one of our younger athletes who was disappointed at his bronze medal. They were not aware that I was hearing this conversation, which went like this: ‘Just be patient, your time will come, just work hard.’ These were all things that I would have said to Brent over the past four years, and I was hearing them coming back to me. That’s why I coach.”
Why do you coach?
“To give back to the sport that’s given me so much.”
“There are nights when I ask myself ‘why do I coach?’ There are very few times that those happen. No doubt there’s politics, and athlete’s feelings, and different priorities in life, but I coach, to help them get better in their sport and to watch them grow up to become people that I’m proud to be around.”
The world needs more people to give back, to guide and coach the next generation of runners. We all have our own reasons for who we are and what we do. I am glad Steve does what he does.
Steve coaches young runners in Nova Scotia with his club YHZ Track and Field.
Run on Steve.
Do you have a story to tell?
See you on the roads or in the blogosphere.