Many roles keep Hickman track coaches busy

Tuesday, April 28, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 4:01 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Stewart Johnson, left, the jumps coach for the Hickman track and field team, checks junior Alicia Wagner's form during practice.

COLUMBIA — Their daily routines are similar.

Wake up early. Go on a possible morning run. Eat a healthy breakfast. Get the kids ready for school. Get to school early enough to check e-mails. Teach for six hours. Coach track practice until 5:30 p.m. Make sure the kids get home from school and activities. Then dinner and evening rituals.

The next day, the same routine starts over again.

This is everyday life for two of Hickman’s track and field coaches Pete Doll and Stewart Johnson.

Both have many years of experience teaching and coaching.

And both teachers’ athletic careers began back in high school and college. Their level of knowledge in academics and athletics is well earned.

Johnson began teaching social studies at Hickman in 1994, and in 1995 he began coaching track and field at Hickman.

Doll’s story is similar; he began teaching mathematics in 2000 at Hickman, however, Doll’s teaching career didn’t begin there. Doll began teaching immediately out of college at Leavenworth High School in Leavenworth, Kan., in January 1994.  

Besides teaching at Leavenworth, Doll spent seven years coaching girls soccer while also volunteering for the track and field team for several years. He even worked as the head cross-country coach for two years. When Doll moved to Columbia, the routine didn’t change. At Hickman, Doll coached track and field, this time as a full-time endeavor.  

Being such a versatile parent, coach and teacher comes in handy for both Doll and Johnson. They both are fathers of two, coaches of nearly 20 and teachers to 130.

“I’ve always liked helping people understand things,” Doll said as he gave his seven-year-old son a push on his bike.

Doll is the mid-distance coach at Hickman. He says he likes working with that particular group because of the determination they have.

“Lots of days in the classroom, it gets frustrating but makes you appreciate coaching more, especially the distance kids because they have such a high level of discipline,” Doll said.

“I just want to be able to get athletes to their fullest potential,” Doll said. “Whether that be make the state finals, or break three minutes in the 800-meter run. Teaching them how to be a better runner is what it is really about. When you aim for that goal, it all falls in place.”

Johnson takes a similar stance. “I want them to be successful in whatever they do, receiving good grades or getting a personal record. Just doing their very best, that’s what its about.”

Johnson, a social studies teacher, credits his relationship with his students to a relationship he once had with a previous teacher.

“I had a very influential social studies teacher in high school who was also a track coach. He talked to us, not down on us. I have mirrored him in very many ways,” Johnson said chuckling.

Johnson’s students know what he does outside class, and he knows what extracurricular activities they participate in.

He describes his classroom as a “big family.” He tries to attend his students' outside-of-class activities, and in turn, they ask him about his track meets.

“The track is another classroom to me, the kids want to be there,” Johnson said. “Track practice is an extension of my day.”

When off school grounds, Doll and Johnson have busy family lives.

For Johnson, who jokingly calls himself the family man, his family support system is incredibly important. His wife, also a college track athlete, helps him take care of their 10 and seven-year-old daughters.

“Would I want them to run track? I would love them to," he said. "But, I want them to grow up and do whatever makes them happy.”

Doll agrees to the importance of family. “I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without my family, especially my wife.”

For Johnson track and field parallels the classroom in many ways.

“My little nugget of information for these kids is simple: Love life.”

And that is simply what Pete Doll and Stewart Johnson have been doing.

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