Remembering Mike Byrnes, by Larry Eder

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Mike_for_obit.pngMike Byrnes, photo by PhotoRun.net

Please read the wonderful obit on Mike Byrnes, from NSAF: http://www.nationalscholastic.org/article/1913.

The following are some of my recollections of a special person who was loved by many, and who influenced several generations in our sport.

Mike Byrnes was a character.

A character, in my mind, is one who is larger than life, and that describes Mike Byrnes.

Mike Byrnes, Jim Spier, Joy Kamani, Tracy Sundlun, Larry Rawson and a small group of friend, who loved the sport, have been influencing junior athletics for nearly five decades.

The National Scholastic Foundation, which was the predecessor of the NSAF provided more opportunities for high school and junior athletes through competitions in cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field. Their publication, Track Digest, in the 1990s, was a great advocate of the sport.

Before they rose to a level that the major footwear companies saw the importance of sponsoring their dreams, Mike, Jim, Joy and company raised money the old fashioned way: one subscription at a time. Good people doing good things. That, truly is the theme of our sport.

So, how to describe Mike Byrnes?

Mike Byrnes believed he was on a mission from the track gods. He was one of those people who acted first and apologized later. Jim Spier was the yin to Mike Byrne's yang. And that was good, heck, it was great. Jim and Mike were two of the most influential figures in our sport, and gave generations of high school athletes a chance to grow.

Before Mike and Jim and company, there was very little opp for high school athletes after season. The NB Indoor and NB Outdoor, formerly the Nike Indoor and Outdoor, plus the NXN, have all provided great opps for the countries finest young athletes to reach the next level.

What I admired about Mike was his genuine love of the sport and enjoyment of the events. His laugh was infectious, and his smile warmed a room, and many a track.

I will miss his phone calls from the early 2000s. A man with a huge heart, and love of his family and friends, I still have a golf cap from him, from Culpepper Golf course, I believe, that I keep in my office.

I wish more people were like Mike Byrnes. His heart was worn on his sleeve and his intentions were to grow the sport. He will be missed.

But the events he co-founded live on.

And the track gods continue to smile.

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