Grade school is commonly remembered for sharing lunchables during recess and sneaking indoors during the winter. For Guy Schultz, however, he vividly remembers keeping his eye on the clock. He couldn’t wait to escape the name-calling by hitting the track. The tween from Timmons was 4'11", which was viewed as an irregularity by other kids.
He soon turned his ‘flaw’ into his strongest asset.
Schultz, now 5'9" has been splitting his time up at Western as head coach of cross country and assistant coach of track and field. He also works closely with athletes and employees from all faculties as program intramural coordinator. However, the man in charge of training athletes, hiring employees and maintaining the budget continued to endure a great amount of pain before turning tragedy into triumph.
Schultz was gearing up for the Sydney Olympic trials in 2000 by running up to 150 miles per week and following strict exercise routines. He was running in a road race in Hamilton when he stepped on a rock that cracked the medial tarsal in his foot. The brutal pain, however, wasn’t the first thought that came to mind.
“I was upset. I thought I had a chance," he says. "I was at the best shape of my life. My coach and significant other thought the same. But I guess it was good for me because I was getting into my mid-30s and it was time for me to move on.”
He dwelled on his stress fracture for a long time until he realized he needed to get a full-time job related to running as a way of self-fulfillment and giving back to the community. It was difficult enough to walk away after competing in the NCAA's or getting close to the Olympics, but, his struggles didn't end there. Even if Schultz has the opportunity to train athletes today the way he once trained himself before, he realized not all athletes have the same desires as he did.
“I think it’s because of everything going on in [students'] lives now,” he says. “When I was running there was a lot of other things going on around campus, [but] for them the Internet is a lot bigger than it used to be.”
Regardless of generational differences, running isn’t just a trip to the track — it’s about eating properly, sleeping well and taking care of one’s health. Training the athletes has become more than just a physical job. The runners can endure stress with practice, school and competitions; however, they know who they can reach out to. Schultz will play the role of "parent away from home" if the students are in need of a shoulder to lean on.
Schultz sees himself in his athletes, which is a part of the reason why he wants to lead them in the right direction.
He shares the same view with intramural coordinating.
Giving out a suspension to a referee could be a result of skipping a shift or getting into a fight. Schultz believes when students receive emails regarding their misbehaviour, they sometimes blame the person who sent the email before re-evaluating themselves.
“I remember someone once attacked me in an email saying ‘I don’t know what level of sport you played at but I played in NCAAs.’ [The attacker] didn’t know that I competed in NCAAs,” he says. “I guess I took it personally when I first started."
Despite students getting upset over suspensions, Schultz handles their reactions by ensuring growth and education. He helps them recognize their mistakes and take action for improvements.
Even though Schultz is extending his hand out as an outcome of running, he'll never forget his first lesson. He started running as a way to combat his struggles and now that attitude is what allowed him to overcome roadblocks. Schultz generated a positive mindset that motivated him throughout his journey today.
You can still spot Schultz heading to the track; after all, running was and will always be a natural healer for him.