Friday, February 22, 2013

Bob Raemore Remembered as Mentor and Coach

Longtime coach left his mark on IUP athletes

By MIRZA ZUKIC moz@indianagazette.net

Doc Raemore
As a dentist by profession, Robert "Doc" Raemore had no choice but to get in people's faces.

But during his longtime coaching career at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, he preferred to stay behind the scenes and let his athletes shine in the spotlight.

Raemore, 71, an Indiana dentist who also coached the sprinters and hurdlers on the IUP track and field teams for 34 years, died early Saturday [February 9th] after a brief and sudden illness.

"It's hard to get through this," said former IUP track and field and cross country coach Ed Fry, who coached alongside Raemore for 34 seasons. "This was pretty sudden for everybody because he thought he just had the flu on Tuesday. He went (to work) the next day for a little bit, and he wasn't feeling great so he went home. But he didn't go to the hospital until Friday, and they took him right away to (UPMC). … By Friday night he was in pretty bad shape, and he died at 12:01 Saturday morning.

"I can't tell you how many calls I've received already. And these are people from faraway places. He will be missed by the entire IUP track family."

Raemore, much like Fry, is a legendary figure in IUP track and field annals, and he was respected by former athletes far and wide.

In May 2008, after Sean Strauman won the NCAA Division II national title in the 800-meter run, he dedicated the championship to Raemore and Fry.

"The one thing I said to Coach Fry after I finished the race and he was handing me the trophy was, 'This one is for you and Doc,'" Strauman said at the time. "It's really good for me to end my season like that, but it meant more to finish like that for those two guys."

On Saturday, Strauman wrote on his Facebook page: "You were such an incredible coach, mentor and friend. Thank you for pushing me to be the best person I could be. I truly hope every time I stepped out on the track to run, I made you proud. You will be missed forever."

Brian Spickler, IUP's head track and field coach from 2002 to 2008, blossomed under Raemore as an athlete in the late-1990s after arriving at IUP with the billing of being a marginal athlete at best. By his senior year in 1998, Spickler had blossomed into a contender for the national title in the decathlon. Spickler was a two-time All-America selection in 1997 and '98 and earned the PSAC Athlete of the Year award in 1997.

Raemore, Manion, Drayton, Budd
"(Raemore) was one of the integral reasons why I had the success I had," Spickler said this morning from his home in Denver, Colo. "He not only helped me become the best athlete I could be, but be the best person I could be -- and a lot of other athletes. ... If he wasn't my coach, I would never have had the success I did."

A standout track athlete in his own right at Williamsport High School in the 1950s and Villanova University in the 1960s, Raemore began his coaching career at IUP in 1973, serving as an assistant to Fry until 1980.

Then, he served as the head coach of the IUP men's track team for five seasons before returning to his role as an assistant from 1985 until his retirement in 2007. Being a little-known assistant behind the scenes was just fine with Raemore.

"He was just happy coaching the sprinters and the hurdlers, and he loved doing it," Fry said.

"And of course, he had great success with it. He really enjoyed it. He had a great sense of humor and employed that in all his work. He just loved to see the kids succeed, and they responded to his coaching style."

"Just seeing the outpouring of support from all the athletes he touched, it spans across generations," Spickler said. "Even guys I ran with, their parents ran for Coach Raemore. It shows the effect he had, not only as a coach, but a mentor and someone they could look up to. It's neat to see the responses online and how much people truly did care for the guy, myself included."

In 2007, Raemore was named the NCAA Division II Women's Assistant Track Coach of the Year and the East Region Assistant Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track and Field Coaches Association.

During his coaching tenure, Raemore coached three national-champion sprinters -- Amber Plowden in the 100-meter dash and Derek Brinkley in the 400 hurdles, both in 2001, and Bob Babiak in the decathlon in 1990 -- several All-America selections, numerous Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference champions and even one future Olympian.

Jim Wooding, a two time All-America selection in the decathlon under Raemore, was a member of the 1984 U.S. Olympic team. He finished seventh.

Raemore is a member of the Pennsylvania Track and Field Hall of Fame as well the West Branch Valley Hall of Fame.

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