Touching Greatness, Forever Together-The Villanova Track Story-1961-1981, by Jerry Bouma
This is a review by Jeff Benjamin. Jeff Benjamin is our East Coast Senior Writer. He covers all things running for RunBlogRun and has been writing for us since 1990.
Book Review – “Touching Greatness, Forever Together -The Villanova Track Story -1966-1981
By Jeff Benjamin
Sometimes there are “alignments in the stars” so to speak, where events and inspiration can raise standards amongst many.
Villanova Track alum Jerry Bouma observed these special events and people firsthand and now he has enthusiastically been able to “bottle it!”
“Touching Greatness, Forever Together – The Villanova Track Story (1966-1981)” is Bouma’s passionately written account of that era when Villanova Men’s Track dominated in a time which came down to the leadership and coaching style of one man – James “Jumbo” Elliott.
A different-style coach than Oregon’s Bill Bowerman (Bouma devoted a few paragraphs to the few similarities and many differences) Elliott nonetheless achieved remarkable successes, helping lead to the rise of Wildcats legends such as Ron Delaney, Marty Liquori, Dave Patrick, Eamonn Coghlan, Sydney Maree, Mark Belger, Don Paige and a host of others!
Jumbo Elliott statue
In his inspiring writing, one can see how Bouma was influenced by “Jumbo” as well, and he also emphasizes quite correctly the one annual event where Bouma and his fellow Villanova tracksters would always feel what they saw as the pinnacle event – The Penn Relays.
Combining both fact and personal stories, Bouma regales the reader with many inspiring stories abs anecdotes along with some humor along the way. Many of the postscripts on these legends also give the reader a sense to reach conclusions on many of their favorites.
Bouma’s description of Elliot’s ability to bring out the best in almost anyone reflectively shines right back at the author’s passion and steadfast eyewitness devotion to an era that Bouma bluntly and perhaps sadly predicts can never happen again.
Those stars would have to re-align themselves once again.
However, fortunately for us, Bouma has at least captured that alignment and bottled it for all to see in his book.
That is a true testament to his devotion and passion.
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