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David Carr (right) and Sheri Huckleberry (center) pose with 1968 Olympic champion Lee Evans (left)

Photographer: Alex Higgins

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Lee Evans spoke to Coaching Education students and Patton College faculty and staff on April 10, 2014

Photographer: Alex Higgins

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Lee Evans inspired The Patton College of Education's Coaching Education students to become a famous coach

Photographer: Alex Higgins

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Olympic champion speaks to Patton College students


The Patton College of Education co-sponsored the 10th annual Sports in Africa Conference at Ohio University on April 10.

David Carr, associate professor, and Sheri Huckleberry, assistant professor, of The Patton College's Recreation Sport Pedagogy worked with the college's Diversity Committee and took full advantage of having so many sport pedagogy experts on campus when they invited Olympian Lee Evans to speak with their students.

Evans' record-breaking time of 43.86 seconds in the 400-meter dash in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City earned him induction into the Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1983. He is a Fulbright professor with more than 20 years of teaching and coaching experience.

Evans told the coaching education students to have the ambition to be a successful coach and be the best at what they do.

"I had the greatest coaches in the world," Evans said. "I always tell my post-university athletes, 'You have to think I'm the best coach in the world. I'm going to get you ready for this competition and you'll go to the line with confidence.'"

He explained that as new coaches, the OHIO graduates will have many skills they will have to learn on the job. They will work with a variety of personalities and will have to determine what motivates each athlete.

Evans spoke about his high school football experience.

"I'd have played 50 percent harder if the coach talked to me man-to-man rather than shouting," he said. "They'd shout when you did something wrong and when you did something right, they didn't say anything. Don't be that kind of coach. Let them know when they do something right."

He also shared the value of visualization.

"The best coach in high school was the one who talked to me" Evans said. "On the track he'd be telling me I could be an Olympic champion. I thought he was crazy. But he would always say great things to me. He motivated me to do good. He saw something in me I didn't. It's good to encourage athletes in all sports and get them to start believing and thinking about winning."

In addition to telling stories of his athletic and coaching career, Evans provided a glimpse of what it was like to be an African-American athlete during the Civil Rights Movement.

"We were taught to continually be aware," Evans said, "but we were taught to participate. Don't watch people marching for your rights go right by. We were athletes and couldn't participate in the marches, but we were with our people fighting for our civil rights. We decided if you make a victory stand [at the Olympics] you have to do some kind of protest."

This led to the well-known black power salute by the African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos during their medal ceremony at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. As they turned to face their flags and hear the American national anthem, they each raised a black-gloved fist and kept them raised until the anthem had finished.

The Patton College of Education and the Diversity Committee were excited at the prospect of bringing an informative and inspirational speaker to students.

"Anytime we can put an athlete or coach with outstanding credentials in contact with our students in coaching education, we feel there is a great opportunity for shared learning," Carr said. "Having Lee Evans, an Olympic champion and longtime track-and-field coach on our campus was one of those great opportunities. Not only was he able to share insight about being an athlete, being coached, and then coaching athletes to meet their performance potential, we were also able to gain insight into an important period of sport and cultural history."