By Scott Franco
For those who know Bill Bravin, it will come as no surprise that one of his favorite sayings is “Summer miles bring autumn smiles.” That’s a runner for you … and that’s actually a guy who coaches runners, too.
“Throughout the years, Bill often said that a person is not limited by their level of talent,” says Jim Watt, who coached soccer at Hollidaysburg while Bravin was coaching cross country and helping with track over the years. “Success in running was about practice and an individual’s tolerance for pain over their competition. The winner is the person willing to sacrifice the most, work the hardest and endure more pain than anyone else. Those lessons matter as much today, if not more, than any other time.”
And now, at this time, the cross country booster club, and the Hollidaysburg Area School District, want to honor the man who resurrected the cross country program back in the 1970s, and who retired from coaching in the late 1990s. They want to build a state-of-the-art finish line and timing system to be placed at the senior high and name it after him.
Sheetz has donated the funds for the frame of the finish line, and booster club officials say they are still looking for other businesses and/or individuals to hopefully contribute. They are asking specifically for the timing system that is projected to cost $7,500.
“On the finish line a sign will bear Bravin’s name, serving as a permanent reminder of what it means to set meaningful goals and finish your race the very best way you can,” says Lauren Deur, treasurer of the booster club.
Alysia Watt, Jim’s wife and the president of the booster club, really feels Bravin’s commitment to helping hundreds of runners throughout the area over the year’s needs to be honored.
“The finish line is a point of pride for the running enthusiasts in our area and serve as a meaningful instant to honor Bravin’s commitment to young athletes and encourage future generations to give their all so they can give back to others,” she said.
Travis Singer, the current cross country coach at Hollidaysburg, knows how important having Bravin as a coach and a teacher has been to him and others over the years.
“Coach Bravin had the power of influence on all that came into contact with him and he positively influenced the lives of many people he has taught and coached,” Singer said.
A celebratory race will be held on Saturday, May 21, in Hollidaysburg at the senior high school to recognize Bravin and thank the donors and volunteers that are currently working on the project. They are asking if you can make a monetary donation to mail it to the school’s athletic office, in care of the cross country team, at 1510 North Montgomery Street.
“He is extremely passionate about running and helping kids,” Jim Watt said. “When I coached soccer, he was my go-to-guy for running drills. Soccer players can run between 7-9 miles in a match and fitness was a big competitive advantage for us because of Bravin’s advice.”
Nowadays, Bravin, who will be 80 in September, enjoys walking every day, attending cross country meets when he can and going out to breakfast and catching up with old pals according to his daughter, Kathy. She believes this honor brighten up his spirit.
“After all the hours and effort he has dedicated to his athletes, being recognized will make his day, his year,” she said. “Bill loves to be part of the action, socializing and sharing in the fun of the sport. Seeing his dedication acknowledged would be the icing on the cake.”
Want to run?
If you would like to compete in the honorary run on Saturday, May 21, in which Bravin will be recognized and the finish line/timing system will be unveiled, email any questions to email@example.com