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Chagrin's Kirk lands HOF spot
Chagrin's Kirk lands HOF spot
By TONY LANGE
Joining Olympians and champions of all sorts, Chagrin Falls' Dave Kirk will be inducted into the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches Hall of Fame on January 27.
The former cross-country coach and current boys track and field coach arrived at Chagrin Falls in 1990. Since then, he has helped 69 Tigers earn All-Ohio honors and Chagrin Falls athletes advance to the state championships 41 times in cross-country, indoor track and outdoor track.
No one person ever gets themselves into the Hall of Fame, Kirk said.
"I don't see this as a Dave Kirk award, I see it as a Chagrin Falls award," he said. "It's for all those kids across the years. If there was a message that I could send to all of them, I would say, 'Hey you guys, this is for you. This is for you.'"
Chagrin Falls athletes have run their hearts out during the past two decades and for that, Kirk is appreciative, he said.
"I've seen kids run and lay there on all fours and throw up. One kid ran so hard, he passed out during his race. I have always felt like that kid did that for me," he said. "And it was just such a humbling thing to have people who would go out there and do that. It would have been much easier to say, 'That's too hard.' And give up. But Chagrin kids, they have never done that."
The OATCCC Hall of Fame started in 1969, making Kirk a member of the 44th class. He will be the second Chagrin Falls coach to be inducted.
Ralph Quisinberry was inducted in 1978. He coached track at Chagrin Falls from 1947 through 1966, during which time he won seven conference meets and coached one individual state champion.
Jesse Owens, who ran, hurdled and jumped for Cleveland East Tech High School and Ohio State University before going on to win four gold medals in the 1936 Olympics, is a member of the class of 1970.
A more recent member of the Hall of Fame is Kenston's Frank Gibas who coached the Bombers for more than three decades and was inducted in 1998.
Despite being a rival of Chagrin Falls for so many years, Gibas was the person who nominated Kirk.
Gibas will be giving Kirk's introduction on Jan. 27, Kirk said.
"It's very flattering that someone who you spent so many years trying to beat, and some years with more success than others, picked me," Kirk said. "Many perceive our schools as crosstown rivals and I guess we are, but there's a respect there that we've always had for them and they've always had for us."
In cross-country, Kirk coached the girls 1991 state champion team, the girls 1992 state runner-up team and the boys 1993 state runner-up team. In track, he coached the 2005 boys team that finished in sixth place at states.
Watching his athletes get up on the podium in Columbus is one of the most satisfying parts of coaching, he said.
"That's all we talk about," Kirk said. "We say to the kids, the goal of this program is to get to the state meet and stand on the podium. That is the goal. Even if we can get one kid there, that's your program standing up there. Get there."
Every one of his 41 trips to the state meet was unique and special in its own way, Kirk said.
On the other side, Kirk has kids who come out for track who are never going to get to the state championships, he said. To see each and every athlete hit his or her goal of a personal best time is always a moment Kirk is chasing, he said.
"There's so many days that you go out there and you say, that kid today was better than he's ever been on any other day in his entire life and it's always a privilege to stand there and be a part of that," Kirk said. "You know, you're jumping up and down with the kid and you're all happy and the people in the stands are like, 'What are you all excited about? That kid was last.' Well, you don't understand. He wasn't last. Today, he went faster than he's ever gone in his life. And for me, that's always been a neat moment."
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