Young runners learn why Angell coached at STMS for a quarter of a century |

Young runners learn why Angell coached at STMS for a quarter of a century

Steve Yingling

You really can go back in time – at least Austin Angell can.

For the past month, Angell spent part of his afternoons teaching a group of youths the finer points of cross country running.

In running circles on the South Shore, Angell is considered the authority on the sport. For 25 years he coached the South Tahoe Middle School cross country team to too many championships to list. That long tenure allowed him to coach present-day coach Karin Holmes and his 25 years of coaching service in the community has only been equalled by former South Tahoe High basketball coach Tom Orlich.

Angell has participated in the Boston and New York marathons, attended every California state track and field meet for the past 41 years and seen his share of U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials. He also had a long streak of attending Tah-Neva League middle school races snapped this fall because he was volunteering for, you guessed it, a running event: The Lake Tahoe Marathon.

But Angell’s impressive background initially had little significance on his latest pupils.

At first, the young men didn’t understand why someone five times their age was coaching them. Several of them came away from the first practice calling their new workouts: “Old Man Camp.”

But by the time they competed in the United States Track and Field Association Pacific Association Youth Cross Country Championships last Sunday at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, they understood why Angell wanted to coach them and why they’d benefit from the experience.

“He was a really good coach and he never really got mad. He really concentrated on cross country,” said STMS sixth-grader Brady Hiob.

Hiob learned more than running from Angell in the past month. Angell showed him one of the great attractions of San Francisco last Sunday: The Golden Gate Bridge.

“That bridge is pretty cool. It’s huge,” Hiob said.

The long drive from South Lake Tahoe to the Bay Area also gave Hiob the opportunity to learn more about the legend coaching him.

“I learned when he was in college he was a water polo player and he did a whole bunch of water sports, then he went into running and started running a whole bunch of races in New York and San Francisco,” Hiob said.

Angell enjoyed the opportunity to coach again and said that today’s preteens are only slightly different than the ones he instructed in three other decades. Some of them wear earrings and color their hair, he said.

Angell’s team – the Godspeed Wings – nearly qualified for regionals. Seven points kept the team from moving on to the next round of Junior Olympic racing.

A year from now, these same kids shouldn’t hesitate to ask Angell if he’ll coach them again. They realized that the older the coach is, the more knowledge they have to pass on.

– Tribune Sports Editor Steve Yingling can be reached at (530) 542-8010 or

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