Last month, I had the opportunity to attend my 20th high school reunion at Episcopal High School of Alexandria, Virginia. During my time back in Alexandria, I had the privilege of joining friends, family, colleagues, students, and former runners at the Groundbreaking of the Memorial Sites for Joe Halm and Ellie Halm '16.
Below you can find the words from my dedication and reflection about Coach Halm and Ellie:
Hello, it’s a pleasure to see you all on this very special occasion.
As you hear me say the words I and Me, know that it is you and we.
I ask that you close your eyes.
It’s a fall evening here on campus. I’ve done my mileage for the week, and I approach the start line behind the baseball dugout. I gather together with the team and get the last coaching pep talk. The parting words from Coach Halm, “Hurry back.” As I toe the line, I go over my instructed game plan…
Coach Halm told me to stay on the #2 runner from Landon’s shoulder and hang on, and that the #1 runner from Landon will return back to me by the 2nd mile.
I quickly say yes Coach.
The gun goes off, and I sprint down the stride away and make the left into the woods. I’m prepared, I’m confident and I’m not worried. But wait, the #1 runner takes off like a Jackrabbit and he’s gone! Ok, focus, #2 is right there, do you job, follow instructions.
I pop out of the woods, and I can see the red hair! Coach Halm is there with his clipboard to tell me my split! Boom got it.. yes Coach.
I continue down to the pond, but not before seeing Abby and Ellie cheer me on! Ok, focus.
I make my way down the hill, and I stay engaged and make my way around the dry pond… #2, and I start to reel in the #1 Landon runner, man... Coach was right.
Now it’s time to do work! The hill here at Episcopal is my hill. I don’t let anyone pass me on that hill! As I get to the 2-mile, Coach Chesson is there and I see Coach Halm jogging in place as he tells me to remain focused and he will see me at the finish.
I navigate up the hill, back into the woods, and as I make my way to the last stride away just before I make that right to sprint towards the baseball diamond's home base… there is Coach Halm, he’s there telling me to kick!!!!
Please open your eyes.
As a runner, Coach Halm was always there for me. He guided me with words of wisdom, best practices, and techniques that made me a better runner.
As a colleague and coach with him, he did exactly the same in a way that was loving, selfless, and amazing. Joe allowed me to step in and coach Abby and Ellie in a way that set me up to be the man that I am today as a father, and leader.
It is only fitting to be able to say that the man was there for us all in various capacities; at this turn, on this hill; at that cornfield; at one of those seated meals; a tutorial, and dorm!
Now, he and Ellie will always be here with us. While I still hear his voice and use his sayings and while I still hear “where’s my super suit” from Ellie in my ears. I appreciate it every time.
I close by saying thank you Coach Halm and Ellie for gracing us with your continued presence.