|Relationships key as Ed Fye builds on Doane traditions|
|Written by Wauneta Breeze|
|Thursday, 02 April 2015 02:48|
Doane Head Track Coach Ed Fye with sons Landon (left) and Zachary (right) and wife, Lisa. (Courtesy Photo | Ed Fye)
The Wauneta Breeze
Following his graduation from Wauneta High School in 1978, Ed Fye headed to Doane College in Crete where he was a member of the football and track teams.
Fye graduated from Doane in 1982 with degrees in elementary and physical education and then bounced around the country teaching, learning and training.
After a stint with the U.S. National Track team and competing in Europe, the call came to return to Doane.
Fye answered, becoming the defensive backs and kickers coach under new defensive coordinator Tom Hood, Fye’s position coach, and an assistant coach on the track team under his head coach Fred Beile.
Fye would spend 18 years as an assistant coach for both teams before being tabbed to take over for Beile and giving up his football position.
One of Fye’s favorite coaching memories is the back-to-back national championships the women’s team won while an assistant.
“Being the best at what you do is pretty special,” Fye said. “It’s a great feeling to know you’ve done something right.”
Fye said he was fortunate to learn from Beile, though the job has changed from Beile’s days at the helm. While Beile managed a staff of three coaches, Fye currently oversees 14 coaches and 135 athletes.
Beile’s foundation has remained strong under Fye and the tradition remains the same. Having a stable staff, who knows the traditions and motivations of the team, is important to Fye. These are the people who help the athletes realize “they are part of something special.”
Coaching from the heart
Fye’s biggest motivation to graduate from college was a desire to become a coach so he could help kids, whether it was on the field or off.
Fye said academics never came easy for him. Looking back at Senior Sensations he wrote his favorite class was study hall. As a student who struggled, he makes sure his door is always open for his athletes, whether the problem may be academic or personal. Thursday he spent time helping one of his student athletes with his academics before heading over for the first day of the four-day Doane High School Track Meet.
While Fye wants his athletes to have a great experience, Fye said it doesn’t always go smooth academically or socially.
As many can relate to, Fye said kids don’t always make the greatest decisions.
It’s important, he said, that the athletes know their coaches will be there to help them through whatever decisions they make.
“That’s when you start building great relationships, when they know that whatever they do their coaches have their back.”
As Fye’s wife Lisa said he coaches from the heart. Every thing the kids do is important, whether it’s on the track or off. Fye isn’t just showing up. He wants the students to know they are important and what they do is important, too.
On the field, Fye takes pride in studying his sport so he can be a better teacher for his athletes. Some of it comes from his experience in high school, when he was taught to pole vault off the wrong foot. Despite setting the Wauneta pole vault record, Fye wonders what he could have done with the correct technique.
During the late ’80s and continuing into the 1990s Fye would travel to Wauneta to host track camps.
Rick Einspahr, former Wauneta track coach, said Fye and his coaches helped a lot of area kids, teaching new techniques and helping the athletes get out of bad habits.
“It’s like magic,” said Fye. “The kids who work hard and make changes really take off.”
The affect is still felt on today’s Wauneta-Palisade teams.
WP head track coach Dawn Doetker remembers going to the camps and passes on what she learned.
“That’s where I learned to run,” Doetker said. “I loved those camps.”
More than 20 years after roaming the track competing for Doane, Ed Fye now passes on his knowledge as Head Track Coach for the Tigers. (Courtesy Photo | Doane College Office of Strategic Communications)
Love for small town athletes
The Doane track teams have a southwest Nebraska flavor. Between the mens’ and womens’ teams, six RPAC schools have or have recently had graduates on the Tigers’ team. McCook has also been well represented. Wauneta-Palisade is currently represented by Abbie Fanning and Jacob Maris.
Fye has enjoyed finding talent from smaller schools, kids he can relate to. He calls them “Rural Routers.” While athletes from bigger schools have many times specialized in one sport or one event, many of Fye’s Rural Routers have done a little bit of everything and end up doing well at Doane.
Fye said there are a lot of talented kids at smaller schools, but it’s hard to judge their abilities because he doesn’t know what their high school experience have entailed. He’s grateful for area coaches who keep an eye out for kids who should be a part of the Doane team.
He was especially pleased to have Gary Nordhausen’s granddaughters join the Tigers, first Mindi’s daughter Blair Dixon, a Wauneta-Palisade grad, and currently Wendi’s daughter Maddie Elder, a graduate of McCook.
Fanning’s grandfather was Clint McCallum, who hired Fye for odd jobs and rodeoed with the family.
“It’s pretty neat to be able to give back to those guys,” Fye said. “It’s nice to give back to the community.”
Fye has also given back to his country, serving as a men’s decathlon coach for the U.S. team at the PanAm games in 2013.
“It’s pretty neat to take your job and build enough relationships with coaches that they want you to coach the U.S. team,” Fye said.
The Doane experience
Fye finds his best recruiters to be the athletes who have been a part of the team.
The relationships remain important even after they move on. Many, such as the Nordhausens, are sending their kids back to Doane.
“They want their kids to have as good an experience as they did,” said Fye, who in turn works hard to maintain the same team experience and success.
Fye feels part of the team’s success can be attributed to the Doane facilities. A stable staff helps also.
Every year’s seniors are special to Fye, especially the heptathlon and decathlon athletes that he coaches.
“Every year I think there won’t be another group you can build that great of a relationship with,” said Fye. “But they end up going out and doing their thing and we find another group of great kids to build relationships with.”
This year’s group has been a special one for Fye.
While some teams need a push to build team morale, his current team “gets it.”
The team raised $1,000 for Christmas gifts for a less fortunate family, took part in Relay for Life and the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and raised money for a backpack program.
According to a Doane press release, Doane student-athletes from El Paso, Texas, volunteer to interpret for local Hispanic families during Parent/Teacher conferences in the Crete school system. Coaches and athletes also hold a youth day for track and field as well as run camps free of charge for the local youth club.
Fye said that although track isn’t usually a team sport, these types of activities bring the team together for a single purpose.
“It’s pretty neat to see,” said Fye. Thanks in part to these activities, the Tigers were named the NAIA Champions of Character prior to the start of the Indoor National Champions in early March.
Fye and Lisa have two sons, Zachary, a seventh grader, and Landon, a first grader.
Both are “pretty good athletes” who have a great relationship with their dad’s athletes.
Fye credits the team with raising the boys before practice starts and said it’s nice to have a good crew of kids to babysit the boys.
Lisa serves as middle school principal at Crete. Fye finds comfort as a father knowing that his sons don’t have to work as hard as he did in the classroom, thanks, in part, to his wife’s effort in working with the boys.
The family owns land around Crete where they keep a variety of animals, reminiscent of his and his wife’s childhoods on farms.
In the end, Fye said his family has all pretty much ended up in Crete. After Grandma Bea’s death, it was easier to care for his father, Bob, in Crete. Bob picked up his old habits from Wauneta, attending practices and Doane games.
Fye still enjoys coming back to Wauneta for a visit and walking up Main Street, visiting with people along the way like he would do after returning from the state track meet.
Fye said the Doane campus is its own small community and the town of Crete reminds him of Wauneta. Much like his trips up Main Street Wauneta, Fye can walk Main Street in Crete, stopping in at the coffee shops to see people and visit, though Crete’s Main Street is “a few more blocks.”
The theme of relationships comes back around. “I’ve enjoyed building relationships with the people of Crete,” Fye said.
Fye remains close to the Wauneta and southwest Nebraska area and has kept many strong relationships. He spent many years traveling back to help the Denkers with harvest until about 10 years ago.
No matter where he goes or what awards he wins, Fye keeps Wauneta close to his heart.
“I love Wauneta. It’s the greatest place on earth.”