Blaisdell now coaches the daughters of his former track stars at WSU

Feb 23 2012 - 8:33pm

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(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner) Weber State track coach Jim Blaisdell (center) stands with WSU track athletes and their mothers, who he also coached, (from left) AmyLyn Schmidt, MaryLyn Schmidt, Courtney Garner and Karen Garner on Tuesday at WSU in Ogden.
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner) Weber State track coach Jim Blaisdell (left) checks out the record board with some of his current athletes and their mothers, who he also coached, on Tuesday in Ogden.
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner) Weber State track coach Jim Blaisdell (left) checks out the record board with some of his current athletes and their mothers, who he also coached, on Tuesday in Ogden.
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner) Weber State track coach Jim Blaisdell (center) stands with WSU track athletes and their mothers, who he also coached, (from left) AmyLyn Schmidt, MaryLyn Schmidt, Courtney Garner and Karen Garner on Tuesday at WSU in Ogden.
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner) Weber State track coach Jim Blaisdell (left) checks out the record board with some of his current athletes and their mothers, who he also coached, on Tuesday in Ogden.
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner) Weber State track coach Jim Blaisdell (left) checks out the record board with some of his current athletes and their mothers, who he also coached, on Tuesday in Ogden.

OGDEN -- Thirty-one years ago, a young Jim Blaisdell set up his office as the new Weber State University women's track and field coach. He had goals and aspirations, but they were for the present, and building a legacy that would lead him to coach his athletes' daughters wasn't part of the equation.

"You'd never think that would happen when you're coaching," said Blaisdell. "Then all the sudden it's starting to happen."

Blaisdell, 67, is currently coaching three multi-generational athletes -- young women whose mothers had such a good experience at Weber that they followed in their footsteps years later.

"I must not have been too ornery to have their daughters come," joked Blaisdell. "I'm sure that their mothers had a good experience here, enough that they wanted to have their daughters here, and I appreciate it."

MaryLyn Schmidt ran cross country for Blaisdell in 1988. Her daughter, AmyLyn Schmidt is a multi-event athlete and is the first multi-generational athlete Blaisdell coached.

"That was fun when I was recruiting AmyLyn and knew her mom," said Blaisdell. He said it's been fun to see the girls he once coached, now in their roles as mothers and supporters of their daughters.

MaryLyn credits Blaisdell as the reason she was able to finish college and said she always felt bad that she was able to run only one season for him.

"I always loved coach Blaisdell," MaryLyn said. "We always went to cross country meets and I would see Blaisdell, and I always thought, 'I would love for one of my kids to run for him.' That was in my head from when my kids were babies."

Now a junior that will be competing in the pentathlon for the Wildcats at the Big Sky Conference indoor championships this weekend, AmyLyn said at first she was reluctant to compete for Weber State.

"I wanted to make my own name, not piggyback on someone else," she said, citing her family's history at Weber (her dad, Ryan, played football for Weber and her grandfather, Ken, coached football at Weber). "But it felt right up here, and the coaches were awesome and convinced me to come."

Ashley Kealamakia, a freshman who will be running the 800 at the championships this weekend, felt the same. Her mother, Elizabeth, and father, Terry, both competed for Weber State in track and field in the early 90s. Elizabeth still holds Weber State records in the indoor 200 meters (24.00), 400 meters (54.31), long jump (19-08.00), triple jump (40-00.00) and outdoor 200 (23.8) and triple jump (40-10).

"Choosing a school was hard for me," said Ashley. "Part of me didn't want to go because it was what my parents did and I wanted to do my own thing."

Ashley, a highly recruited Arizona state champion in the 800, said that she always knew her mom favored Weber, but she was a little reluctant.

"The reason I was hesitant to go to Weber was because I was going to have to live up to her -- because she was amazing," Ashley said. But she said Blaisdell makes sure she knows she doesn't have to be her mother, and that the pressure is a good thing too.

"It's kind of pushed me to know she has a couple records," Ashley said. "I do my own thing in middle distance, and I want to set my own records. Part of me that wants to impress the coaches and wants to carry on that whole legacy."

"I was so excited when she was going to Weber," Elizabeth said. "We tried to stay out of it as much as possible and let it be her decision, but it was awfully hard. I knew it would be a really good environment, and I knew they would take care of her and it would be a really good experience for her."

Karen Packham Garner, who ran distance for Blaisdell from 1987 to 1991, said that they've always rooted for Weber State as a college choice for her daughter, Courtney.

"Of course we brainwashed her to think that Weber was the best school," she said, laughing.

Courtney, who also runs distance, said that it has always been WSU for her, but not because her mom ran there.

"I've always known I wanted to go to Weber," she said. When she was in elementary school, her dad worked as an ROTC instructor at Weber State. "We were always coming up here and doing things. I always loved coming up here, and Weber State is the only basketball team I can watch. It just felt like home."

Courtney said that running for the same coach her mom had and at the same school gives her a sense of pride.

"I walk out of the locker room and see her name on the (record) wall," she said. "It makes me feel like I can do better."

Karen said she is excited that Courtney is able to have the experience of running at Weber with coach Blaisdell and the other coaches.

"I have a lot of good memories from running and being there at Weber," Karen said. "Coach Blaisdell was a great man. That was a huge part of my life those four years, and some of some of those memories she's getting to make too."

The Big Sky championships begin today in Flagstaff, Ariz.

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