The Trackmen Archives
Letter from UF Gator Walk Assoc. 2013
Wed, July 11, 2012 5:54:22 PM
Dear Mr. Dooley:
Your column of Sunday, July 8th, naming the 25 best Gator coaches, a Who’s Who list, has circulated amongst many former University of Florida, Track and Field athletes. I read an e-mail that Frank Saier sent to you on Monday and I wanted to join with my own commentary. In case you missed Frank’s email, I have attached it.
I ran track in the University of Florida in the early 1970’s. I wasn’t great, set no records, set no standards, but I was a good student athlete and an OK runner who became a Carnes disciple. My relationship with Jimmy Carnes grew, even greater and stronger after I left the University of Florida. I went on to work for Governor Bob Graham as Chief Legislative and Cabinet Counsel and Deputy Chief of Staff, and, at Governor’s Graham’s request, I drafted Jimmy Carnes to be the Executive Director of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Jimmy Carnes served in that capacity for eight years under Bob Graham, served in that capacity under Governor Martinez, similarly under former Governor Lawton Chiles and had a role under Governor Bush. I learned as much from Jimmy Carnes as I learned from my own father and I loved my father dearly. Jimmy Carnes led the University of Florida into greatness. While he may not have won a National Championship, without Jimmy Carnes, the University of Florida Track and Field Program, would not be what it is today. He had many All-Americans. Jimmy Carnes was recognized by the United States Olympic Committee when they selected him as the Head Coach for the US Track and Field Team that was to go to Russia for the summer games in 1980. It was his career at the University of Florida that allowed such selection. That was the time that President Carter vetoed our participation in the Olympic games for political reasons. Unfortunately, Jimmy Carnes did not receive another chance to serve as the US Olympic Coach but he went on to lead America’s Track and Field movement like no other in this country. His records at the University of Florida for dual meet wins and his record in helping create the Gainesville Sports Organizing Committee, as well as his creation of the Florida Sunshine State Games and other things, that I helped him with over his career, are legendary.
Ask some of the great track and field athletes of America, people like Frank Shorter, Marty Liquori, Dwight Stones and others, who the greatest track and field coach has ever been out of the University of Florida, and they would all say Jimmy Carnes. I bet if you ask current coach Mouse Holloway, he would say the same thing. I will be in Gainesville for the dedication of Jimmy Carnes Boulevard where hundreds will be there when we unveil the signs for the new road, which will be the street running in front of the track stadium. The legislation so designating the road is one of my proudest legislative lobbying achievements and one many will see, for decades to come, recognizing Coach Jimmy Carnes’ greatness. Simply an omission on your part, but one that should not go without notice or comment.
Ronald L. Book
Ronald L. Book, P.A.
18851 N.E. 29th Avenue
Aventura, FL 33180
email: [email protected]
Allan L. Hoffman, P.A.
Mr. Curtis Head
Gator Hall of Fame
Gainesville, FL 32501
Re: Gator Hall of Fame
I feel compelled to write to you since it appears that my nominees have been passed over again for the Gator Hall of Fame. I am sending this letter to you with the or the Gator Hall Fame. This letter took me about three hours to complete, you can see how important it is as hope that you will forward it to the nominating committee so they can consider some changes to the selection process for next year. it took a considerable effort to get this letter to you and I hope that you would share my thoughts.
I think it is important for you to know that I have had Parkinson’s disease for the past nineteen years. At present, I only have about five productive hours a day and this letter will consume about three of those hours. I do not tell you for your sympathy, but only to show you how important this letter is to me and why I think it should be important to the Nominating Committee for the Gator Hall of Fame. It took a considerable effort to get this letter to you and I hope that you would share and possibly agree with my thoughts.
I ran track in 1963 and 1964. I was an assistant track coach in 1969 and 1970. I was a pilot for the athletic department in 1968 through 1970 and I flew most of the football coaches around the “rubber chicken circuit” to meet football recruits and attend athletic banquets. I flew the Cross Country Team to their away meets andeserved as coach for some of the meets. All in all it was one of the best times of my life. It also gives me the right to nominate individuals for the Gator Hall of Fame.
Each year the nominating committee chooses several wonderful examples for the Hall of Fame and I am not being critical about the people selected. I just feel the committee should nominate more members each year to try to get some of the older, worthy Gators into the Hall of Fame before they get too frail to appreciate it. Very seldom does the nominating committee reach way down and pull out the name of a truly worthy and outstanding individual for nomination. I am talking about individuals from the early 1960’s and the early 1970’s. I have nominated three outstanding individuals who have not made it into the Hall of Fame.
The reason they have not been inducted is probably because I did not list all of their accomplishments. The reason I did not list the additional accomplishments is because they were only rumors. For example, I would like to point out several things about my nominees that were not available to me at the time of the submission of the applications.
Although Harry Winkler was on the United States Olympic Team in 1972 and 1976, which should have been enough to get him into the Hall of Fame without more, Harry may have been our first two time Olympian from the University of Florida. The rumor is Harry was instrumental in bringing an end to the Arab takeover of the Olympic Village. He was an expert in jiu jitsu, tae-kwon-do, head butting and ti bow (or tebow, I am not sure which) and he used these special skills to take back the Olympic Village. He apparently, without any assistance was able to bring the crisis to a quick end. No one is exactly sure how many lives he saved, but it was a lot. He has avoided recognition for his heroic acts to avoid further arracks on his family as the Arabs have sworn to take revenge.
Few people know that my next nominee, Steven “Pete” Rowe, was in military intelligence in South Vietnam. Three SEC gold medals should have been enough to get into the Hall of Fame, but apparently that was not enough and more of his story will have to be told. I will point out some still classified information I have heard, but have not been able to personally verify, because I was a civilian during the war. (I did have a secret clearance as a civilian working for the Air Force on the Minuteman Missile). The Rumor is that “Pete” was in a special envoy to North Vietnam and that he was the individual representing the United States in finally bringing the war to an end. Secretary of State Kissinger said at the time “Without the very able and capable assistance of Pete Rowe in ending the Vietnam War, the United States would still be over there slugging it out with them.” I would also point out that Pete went into the service at a time when it was dangerous just to go into an ROTC building on the UF Campus.
Last but not least is John Parker. John was an NCAA champion in the Steeple Chase and again this alone should have been enough to get him into the Hall of Fame. But apparently it is not enough. It was not enough that John had two novels on the New York Times best seller list at the same time. The rumor is John has been writing movie screen plays over the years and as soon as he submits them to a studio, they will appear at a competing studio with a new author, a slight change of name and then John gets no money and no literary credit. A few of the movies he thought up are American Graffiti, Star Wars, Gone With the Wind, and a sequel, Dances With Bikers. What does a guy have to do to get noticed? So what if John lost his scholarship in Basketball when he refused to cut his hair the way the football coach wanted it. Let me get this straight, the football coach took John’s basketball scholarship. What business was that of his?? Did John quit UF? No. John moved into the track field house, stayed at UF without a scholarship and won an NCAA or NAIA gold medal for UF in track. Isn’t this the type person we want in the Gator Hall of Fame?
Steve Spurrier won the Heisman Trophy and is in the Hall of Fame. He won the SEC and a national championship as a coach, but then he moved on to South Carolina. He stayed in the Hall of Fame and I do not have a problem with that because I know deep down, he is still a Gator. As a footnote, Steve won the Heisman Trophy the year all the black football players were in Vietnam. (Credit Tim Wilson for that observation). At the same time Steve was winning the Heisman Trophy, Ron Coleman, Benny Vaughn and Johnnie Brown were trying to smile at the white girls on campus without getting lynched, make their grades, and participate in varsity athletics. Ron and Benny were able to do it, but Johnnie Brown could not. Johnnie did not make his grades and was on the bus to Vietnam within 30 days. Any one of these fine gentlemen could have attended any black college in the United States and been a big man on campus. They chose to pave the way for the black athletes of today. Benny Vaughn and I integrated several rest rooms around the south when I flew the cross country team to meets. I would be ready for a quick departure with the airplane while Benny used the rest room.
Coach Carnes had a reunion of all the athletes and coaches before he passed away from cancer. It was held on the weekend of the SEC meet in Gainesville. I had the privilege of walking through the meet with Ron Coleman and I wonder what he thought when he saw these young black men waiting to compete in their event. None of them knew what a contribution and sacrifice Ron had made for them many years before. He was just another face in the crowd to them. I have to mention that both Benny and Ron are pilots. Unfortunately Johnnie Brown never could get it together. He is in Texas State Prison for sale of drugs. Johnnie was just another victim of integration.
Where is all this heading? Not everyone who should be in the Hall of Fame is an Olympic Champion or an All Pro Linebacker. Florida had never won an SEC title in football until Spurrier came along, but Florida turned out some great football players.
I plan to continue to nominate each of these fellows as long as I am able. Hopefully they will not be deceased by the time they are recognized. Surely an NCAA Champion, a two time Olympic participant and a three gold medal winner in the SEC meet should get some favorable consideration. I fail to see any cheapening of the award by granting three old men an honor they earned long ago. These fellows deserve this award. They may not have been on a championship team, but they were all champions representing the University of Florida. The reason the athletes of today get respect when they walk on to a playing field anywhere in America is because of the way these older fellows conducted themselves when they participated in their sport, so many years ago.
I hope that when the next nominating session comes around, you will agree with me that these me were great Gators and deserve a place in the Hall of Fame.
Allan L. Hoffman
Fri, July 13, 2012 2:14:59 PM
As a Gator Track and Field Athlete from, 71-73’. Gator Assistant Track Coach / Florida Relays Director 76-79
And a Florida Student Athlete, taught Fundamentals’ of Coaching by (Coaches), Beard, Bishop, Potter, Fuller, Hester, Tennant and Carnes,
to name a few.
I’M surprised when someone “states he is in his 50th year” of watching University of Florida sporting events!
Would omit one of the Greatest Gator Coaches in Florida history, (James Jerome, “Jimmy” Carnes), From your list.
“The Coach that Signed the first African- American to an Athletic Scholarship at the University of Florida”
Opening the door for so many more Gator Greats!
His Florida Dual meet winning percentage is .936, Florida was undefeated during my years, in Gainesville
Never lost a Track & Field meet to, Georgia, FSU, Ala, Auburn, GA Tech, LSU, USC, Miss State, Ole Miss,
(We went to Ohio State back then, Coach crammed 30 of us into the Blue Goose we flew up to Columbus &
whipped the Buckeyes butts in their brand new indoor field house)
Coach Carnes Coached several World Record Holders’ and Olympians’
Steve Williams, 100 Meters (Set on Percy Track)
Dave Roberts, Pole Vault (Set on Percy Beard Track)
University of Florida’s 2 Mile Relay World Record Team
Florida’s Shuttle Hurdle World Record Team,
Head Coach, USA 1980 Olympic Team
USA Olympic Assistant Coach, 1976’
A Member of 5 Different Sports Hall of Fames,
Never finished lower than Third in the SEC, Won a couple of Indoor titles.
No we didn’t win an NCAA Championship Back then. (But Coach Carnes did provide a lot of Guidance and mentoring
To a lot of us Gators, He was our Coach, Teacher, Father to his Children and Track Athletes, and a Humanitarian!
And He was always the first to ask you, “to tell me about how your family and yourself are doing and what can I do as a Gator Coach to help!
Including, Michael “Speedy Gonzales” Mouse” Holloway. That happens to also be an Olympic Assistant Coach.
“Thanks for including a Track Coach on the list”, but I feel several on your list even though they are all Great for our Gator Nation”
Still have a lot to do to rise to the level of Coach Jimmy Carnes.
Thank You for allowing gator track lettermen to voice our opinions on a good topic of discussion.
We hope to see a Gainesville Sun Columnist, At the unveiling of Coach Jimmy Carnes Boulevard shortly,
At this years Jimmy Carnes Invitational Track Meet and the Florida Relays.
Coach Doug Hill