Maggie Vaults Over the Moon

Author Pays Tribute to His Legendary Coach Bob Timmons

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That's me at left hoisting Timmie with my decathlon teammate, Steve Rainbolt, celebrating our Big 8 Championship in 1979.

That’s me at left hoisting Timmie with teammate, Steve Rainbolt, celebrating KU’s Big 8 Championship in 1979.

By Grant Overstake

My wife Claire and I are remembering the life of legendary KU Track and Field Coach Bob Timmons, who died August 4 at age 91.

Our lives were touched deeply by Timmie, who warmly welcomed us when we transferred to the University of Kansas in the winter of 1978. As 20-year-old newlyweds, we became the first married couple to compete for the track program.

KURelays100mDecathlon19792Claire was a standout sprinter/hurdler for Coach Theo Hamilton and I competed for Timmie in the decathlon. I wasn’t good enough to make the team in any one event but earned a pink and blue uniform by doing 10 events moderately well.

In 1979, I’d placed 5th in the KU Relays decathlon and looked forward to my senior year. But I was forced to forgo my senior season in order to fulfill my scholarship obligations at the journalism school.

KU sprinter Claire Overstake hands the baton to Lori Lowery.

Claire Overstake hands the baton to Lori Lowery.

I remember crying in his office that day, heartbroken. Before practice, Timmie called me up in front of the entire squad and shook my hand.

“Now Grant isn’t the greatest athlete,” he said, to no one’s surprise. “But he is a great writer who could wind up writing for Sports Illustrated someday. He doesn’t want to leave us, but it’s time for him to do what he does best.”

With that blessing, he sent me on my way, feeling inspired. And in 1980, a feature article I wrote for the University Daily Kansan earned the William Randolph Hearst Award, the college version of the Pulitzer Prize.

On the track and in life, we knew Timmy wanted the highest and best for us.

That’s why we loved him.

Read more about the remarkable life of Coach Bob Timmons in The New York Times.

2 thoughts on “Author Pays Tribute to His Legendary Coach Bob Timmons

  1. I’m sure Timmie enjoyed having you on the team, Grant. Thanks for the tribute to our great coach.

    Like

  2. Thanks, Grant. An excellent anecdote. RIP Coach Timmie.

    Like

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