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Tragic Loss (Feb 20 2009, 06:19 AM)
 

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Tragic Loss

Published by
travis   on Feb 20 2009, 06:19 AM

I've known for years now that the greatest gift the sport of running, cross-country, and track and field has given myself and others is relationships. This is true of all sports, but I like to think that this is even more so in the sport all of us are a part of. People with the highest qualities imaginable constantly surround us. Even with such a high percentage of quality people in our sport, there are still those ones that seem to stand out.

The running community lost one of its best coaches Thursday, one of those coaches and people that stand out. I heard news of the passing of Erik Anderson today and was in complete and utter shock. I sat down just outside the athletic offices at Lane Community College and was just gripped with disbelief and overwhelming sadness. I sat outside those same offices I've spent hours upon hours trying to figure out ways to beat Erik Anderson coached teams and was instantly filled with grief. I was initially misinformed that Erik had died in a car accident and only now have I found out that this unfortunate loss has come in such a shocking fashion.

Erik Anderson is one of the better coaches I've ever met, but he was more than that. I instantly had thoughts back to this last November after the NWAACC Cross Country Championships, where his teams did what they always seemed to do. They won. I went up to congratulate him and he was so incredibly sincere and happy for how well MY teams had performed. That interaction summed up the type of guy he was in my mind.

Erik had a way about him that is incredibly unique. He was one of those guys who would kick your butt, but you couldn't help but like and admire. I remember last night I was contemplating how I might be able to go about beating Spokane in the fall. I had recently gotten excited that a couple of recruits that could be on my team in the fall and the potential for my squads, but I got to thinking about just how good Spokane is. I thought about how Erik Anderson was ALWAYS going to have that team running at an incredibly high level. Despite Erik Anderson coaching at a rival school and him beating me often, I've always had an incredible amount of respect for him. He was just one of those guys you knew did things right. He developed kids, he cared for his athletes deeply, and he not only made them better runners, but better people.

The interview I conducted with him last fall after NWAACC's shows a small glimpse into the talent, wisdom, and sincerity of Erik Anderson:
http://www.runnerspace.com/video.php?do=view&video_id=7629 .

There are many coaches out there that don't coach at big conference schools at the Division I level that are often times over looked in terms of their achievements and what they have been able to accomplish on paper and off. I coach at the community college level and I know how difficult it can be, that it can sometimes be a thankless job. Erik Anderson had absolutely mastered his craft. He accomplished so much in coaching and in his life. He was a veteran of Desert Storm, he was an All-American runner at Linfield, and he was one of the most accomplished coaches in the country at any level.

It's hard for me to imagine coaching in the NWAACC without the presence of Erik Anderson, although I know his presence will be felt each time his athletes toe the line for a race. I truly always got excited at the idea of competing against the guy. He made everyone around him better.

I want to wish his family, his athletes, his fellow coaches, and the entire Spokane community my deepest sorrow for the loss of such an amazing person. I will miss coaching against him and regret I was unable to learn more from Erik. He had a lot to share on so many levels.

Travis Floeck - Lane Community College Head Cross Country Coach

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