Thursday, May 23, 2013


Many of you know that I ran cross country when I was in high school.  During that time I was privileged to by coached my Mr. Joe Haug.  For generations, Mr. Haug was a mentor, coach, teacher, inspiration, hero, and Christian example for hundreds of students.  Now, after 41 years of teaching and coaching, he is retiring.  This will be a great loss but to St. Dominic and to all of the future students who won't get the benefit of knowing him.  But it is well deserved.

Tonight there was a reception to honor Mr. Haug.  There were scrapbooks, letters, mementos and other cross country memorabilia.  Here are a few pictures I took while there.  These first two are some of the scrapbook pages from my years as a runner.  There were lots more-many of the same ones I have in a box somewhere but these contain some pictures I don't think I have.

This quilt was presented to Mr. Haug during his 25th year of coaching which fell during my senior year.  I have several of these t-shirts also in a box somewhere.
Being a math teacher, Mr. Haug loved to keep stats and had a whole packet of them to look through.  Although my best times no longer made any of the lists I was still pretty high up on these.  I may not have been the fastest, but it looks like I was pretty consistent.  I didn't think this was too bad after 41 years of runners.  Oh, and I guess it helps if you knew my maiden name was Warren.

Last year, to celebrate 40 years of cross country the school sent us a request for all runners to write letters to Mr. Haug about our memories and experiences from our years on the team.  I will leave you with mine.

Dear Mr. Haug,

It is with only the fondest memories that I reflect upon my time running cross country.  When asked to write about my memories and experiences as a runner I realized it might not be an easy task to put it all into words.  I guess I could reflect simply upon the tangible memories which exist in the form of a box of medals, old team photos, and state meet t-shirts packed away in my closet, but we all know it’s about a lot more than that.  

Cross country taught me about life lessons.  I learned about the value of hard work, dedication and persistence.  I learned that it’s not always going to be easy and sometimes you are going to do your best and still be disappointed. But then there are other days, where all it’s all worth it, and that feeling inspires you to keep at it and work even harder.  I learned what it’s like to work as a team, to be supportive and proud of each other no matter who finished first or how frustrated you might be by your own performance.

I’m also left with abundant memories of all the fun times we had on and off the course and the roads.  I remember running to the park to play, exploring the trails behind the neighborhoods, and even running the forbidden train tracks (yes, we did that).  I remember the friendships that formed on early morning bus rides, team slumber parties, and overnight trips to Liberty, IL.  I remember all the unusual rituals and good luck mementos. I remember being taught and teaching others the roads we ran for practice-showing them where the 3 mile run was, the five mile run, the mile markers and so on.  I remember passing on traditions and starting new ones and hoping I was able to help new runners the way I was helped when I started out.

Through all of this I was lucky to have a coach who supported us but wasn’t afraid to ask us to push ourselves while never expecting more than we were capable of us.  He not only reminded us that our best is all we can do, he accepted that and was proud of us for doing just that.  He was quick to support us both on and off the course and when there was nothing more left to be said he sent us off (into the world or just to the starting line of another race) with simple words of advice such as “do good” and “hurry back.”  In addition to all of this he provided us with an example of what it means to truly have a passion for what you do as well as personifying Christian values.

Every fall there are always a few crisp, clear mornings that make me stop and smile, and think to myself, “must be cross country season.”  I guess some things never change.  Congratulations on 40 years, hope this one is another good one!

Gotta run,

Nicki Warren Jesky ‘97 


Anonymous said...

Oh, Nicki, this was so sweet and eloquent and true! I'm glad Sarah shared it with me, and I'm going to send it to my mom and boys. I'm sorry that we are in Korea and had to miss the reception, and am glad you were able to go.
Kathy R.

Nicki said...

Kathy-the reception was really nice. I'm glad I was able
to go. I mentioned to Mr. Haug that all of you were in Korea, he said he had received a nice letter from you.