BXC: Longtime Southport cross country coach Tom Hathaway dies at 79
April 23, 2012By E. Shawn Aylsworth of Hoosier Authority
The following was submitted by Carmel boys cross country coach Erhard “Doc” Bell …
It is with deep sadness that I announce the passing of a true coaching legend in Indiana running, Mr. Tom Hathaway.
Mr. Hathaway was the cross country coach at Southport High School from the mid-1960s until the early ‘80s. He coached three state championships for the boys in 1970, 1971, and 1975 and was instrumental in developing the girls program, which won state championships in 1979 and 1980 when it was a club sport and then the inaugural IHSAA girls title in 1981.
He would leave Southport to then coach for several years at his alma mater, the University of Indianapolis. However, he coached the majority of his runners while coaching for Ken Long and associates for the Mini Marathon Training Program and their fall Marathon Training Program.
He was an outstanding coach who has touched the lives of so many runners and individuals.
He was an outstanding runner himself and ran multiple marathons, having competed in a marathon in all 50 states for a total I actually do not know. When he came to me several years ago with severe hip pain, he was found to have severe degenerative arthritis and eventually had a total hip replacement – and was told by his physicians he should no longer run. Of course, he still ran marathons and ½ marathons!!
He then finished the Sam Costa 1/2 Marathon last year and afterward told his beloved wife, Jane, that he was not feeling too well. She had to convince him to go to the hospital, where he learned he had indeed suffered a mild heart attack from which he recovered. He was looking to run one more mini marathon when, this past week, he developed a heart arrhythmia that resolved.
He went home only to suffer a stroke April 20. He had improvement on Saturday but suffered a likely massive stroke Saturday afternoon at which time his condition deteriorated. He passed away Sunday morning, April 22.
I was truly blessed to have run for Mr. Hathaway while at Southport. I was a very unmotivated runner as a freshman and nearly the last runner on my freshman squad. Fortunately for my running career, Southport split into Perry Meridian and Southport and Mr. Hathaway stayed at Southport. He would come to me often in his biology class that year, telling me I could become a good runner. He truly believed in me before I believed in myself.
When I finally acknowledged his belief in me my senior year, I began to achieve success and, with my teammates, we were able to win the 1975 state championship which remains to this day one of the highlights of my entire life. To share such an experience with an outstanding coach and wonderful teammates is a true blessing. Our motto in 1975 was "You Gotta Believe," and today I realize that that statement involves not only belief in yourself and your coach but your belief in God.
It is all of these wonderful experiences I have been fortunate to have that I have attempted to take to my second career of being a head cross country coach at Carmel High School. While Carmel was one of our rivals in the ‘70s, my teammates and even Coach Hathaway often jokingly (at least I think so!) accused me of going to the "dark side" as I began to coach at Carmel. I am glad to say that they still accept me at Southport reunion functions!
My goal as a coach is to try to have a small fraction of the impact Mr. Hathaway had on me for my runners. For any athlete to have a positive influence from a caring coach is a blessing for both coach and athlete.
Please keep the family of Mr. Hathaway in your thoughts and prayers. His legacy will live on in the thousands of people he has touched. "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness" (2 Timothy 4:7-8) and "but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:31)
Services are pending at Singleton Community Mortuary and Memorial Center.