Former Hinsdale South coach tracks Olympics for real-life dramatics
Updated: August 27, 2012 10:13AM
Dave Jackson jumped feet-first into Hinsdale South retirement as a teacher and assistant track coach by joining former University of Kentucky teammates at the U.S. Olympic Games Track and Field Trials last month in Eugene, Ore.
“It was truly a guy’s trip,” Jackson said. “We even took in ‘Animal House,’ which was filmed there.”
Jackson is keenly interested in distance events in the upcoming London Olympic Games. Those were his specialties in high school and college.
“The U.S. has a few guys who could surprise in the Olympics, but the Kenyans and Ethiopians are way ahead of us,” he said.
The world will be focused on South African runner Oscar Pistorius, who competes with springy artificial legs from childhood disability amputations. Pistorius will run in an individual event and be part of a relay team.
“He’s the real deal, not a novelty,” Jackson said. “He’s at a disadvantage, though, on turns.”
Jackson was fascinated by last month’s photo of a high school girl assisting an exhausted opponent across the finish line at an Ohio track meet.
“Runners are a select group,” Jackson said. “They understand what it’s like to run long distances. We don’t know if the stressed girl had been lapped, but it made for a dramatic picture either way.”
Former Hinsdale Central swimming coach Don Watson took in the U.S. Olympics swimming trials in Omaha, Neb.
“I had a great time,” said the nationally known Watson, who lives in drought-ravaged Austin, Texas. “I have a concern on how well the freestylers will do.”
Olympics swimming star Michael Phelps took some criticism from Trials teammate Ryan Clary at the University of Michigan training center.
“I saw somebody who has been asking to get beat for the longest time,” Clary said in a wire-service interview. “I saw a real lack of preparation. Basically, he was a swimmer that didn’t want to be there.”
Phelps admitted such, saying he had to refocus myself for the Trials.
Birdies and bogeys
Willow Crest Golf Course is the Sept. 22 site of the Hinsdale Central High School Foundation’s fund-raising, scramble-format tournament and barbecue at the Oak Brook Hills Marriott.
Proceeds from entrance fees and donations go to school scholarships and awards, including Jodie Harrison Memorial Teachers Grants and the Young Scholars and Fine Arts programs.
Tourney chairman is Brian Grzelakowski.
Golf information: (217) 260-1346.
Take a bow
The foundation has a best-in-the-country reputation, thanks to president Bob Mortimer Jr., vice-president Kyle Zake, treasurer George Kumis, secretary Sandy Walton, administrative assistant Jeanne Anderko and a 16-person board of directors that include former Red Devils football stars Grzelakowski, Kenny Boston and Mike Mangan.
Information: (630) 769-8278.
Former Cubs pitching coach Billy Connors had a knack of calming his pitchers down in tough situations.
“Cincinnati used to shoot off a cannon whenever a Reds player hit a home run,” Connors said. “I went to the mound once when Rick Sutcliffe had given up three homers. He said, ‘What do you want?’ I said, ‘Oh, nothing. I’m just trying to give the cannon guy a chance to reload.’ (First baseman) Mark Grace laughed so hard he fell down.”
Connors was a roommate of Tom Seaver when they were on the New York Mets.
“Tom loved rare wine,” Connors said. “I put one of his bottles on a window sill to keep it cool overnight, but the sun the next day turned it into mud. He was so mad he chased me out of the room and locked the door. I had to get a new room.”