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Hislop was a versatile master teacher

Legendary Weber track coach will retire Dec. 31

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I'm one of "Chick's boys" and proud of it ...

Charles "Chick" Hislop, Weber State University's men's cross country/track and field coach for the past 38 years, will retire Dec. 31.

I'm not one of his 26 All-Americans, or a major component of any of his almost two dozen Big Sky championship teams. However, I and hundreds of his other former athletes are likely big winners in life from his talented leadership and character building.

Let me try and illustrate.

Work ethic:

If you didn't know how to work hard before you joined a Chick Hislop team, you soon did. He pampered no one and was well known for getting the most out of his athletes.

I recall being kicked off the track twice during workouts of my collegiate career — for that day — because Coach Hislop felt I had saved up for the day's final interval around the oval.

His standard 10-mile cross country workout run to "Frogwater," an artesian well in North Ogden from WSU was legendary.

Before a particular October 1976 such run, Hislop warned his athletes that anyone not setting a personal best that day would have to run half-way back, another five miles to Ben Lomond High. Anyone not completing the 10 miles under 60 minutes would have run the full 10 miles back to WSU.

I recall doing a 56-minute time that day, but not exceeding my 54-minute best and so I ran an extra five miles that day. One other teammate didn't finish under an hour and he quit the team that day over that extra 10 miles.

(In 1971 as a Roy High School senior, I took my first 10-mile run to Frogwater as a guest with the Weber State team and that time even Coach Hislop ran with us. I finished the run in about 63 minutes, Hislop in 66 minutes— great for a then 35-year old. Hislop had been a star in his own college long-distance running days too.)

One workout, a 20 times 440-yard (400-meters now) consecutive runs around the track in under 70 seconds each, with only a minute's rest in between was one of Coach Hislop's most difficult. "Give your body too much rest in a workout and it will expect a rest during a race," was his philosophy.

Although this conduct seemed harsh at the time, in retrospect, I've always used such Hislop workouts as my all-time standards of difficulty. He believed in you and any life obstacle that came along later, you knew you could handle it.

Hislop didn't believe you had to work out on Sunday, but it was up to the individual. He said if he couldn't run you hard enough six days a week, so you needed Sunday off; that was your problem.

A master teacher and versatile:

Coach Hislop was a superb teacher and teachable himself. He was able to double as Weber's wrestling coach from 1973-78, learning mat techniques as he went.

He had also began that way in the 3,000-meter steeplechase track event, in which he was destined to become a word-class expert.

In his rookie steeplechase days of the spring of 1973, I recall taking the first water barrier jump of the early season. and somehow slipped, ending up flat on my back in the deep asphalt pit, waterless at that time. As I looked upward, there was Coach Hislop peering down at me. When he could see I was not hurt, he said something like, "Lynn, men, that's not how you do it."

Although I could never muster the speed to finish better than third in any steeplechase race, I did master the water jump, with his help.

He turned some obscure runners into stars. Three such examples were runners in my college days were: Al Yardley and Lynn Strong from Beaver ; and Dean Dean from Evanston, Wyo., who were probably not highly sought by other colleges, but Hislop made them standouts.

A legendary organizer:

Coach Hislop could put on a smooth, on-time track meet like no one. Even in his earlier Ben Lomond High coaching days, he had a reputation as a master event organizer.

Hislop was also a good father figure to his athletes and could provide wise advice on dating, college classes, etc., if asked.

I'm sure his many other athletes have better tales to tell than mine. but I bet we're all proud to be one of "Chick's boys."

Lynn Arave ran cross country and track at Weber State 1972-73 and 1975-77. He is a community-edition editor and writer at the Deseret Morning News.

E-mail: lynn@desnews.com