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From our archives: Farewell to an outstanding track coach

What we thought: 25 years ago

Published: Monday, May 19, 2014 1:15 a.m. CST

Note to readers – Sauk Valley Media reprints editorials and articles from the past as a regular Monday feature. The following items appeared in the Gazette on May 17 and 18, 1989.

Athlete the winner under Coach Dietz

Friday night, after his team had won its 26th North Central Illinois Conference track and field championship – and after his players had worked up the nerve to dump Gatorade over his head – outgoing Sterling High School track Coach DuWayne Dietz was the guest of honor at a post-meet reception.

More than just the Sterling athletic community was there. Coaches who had coached against him were there; some had played or worked under him before moving on to other NCIC schools.

Parents were there. Friends were there. Media representatives were there. They were there to honor a man who truly deserved to be honored.

DuWayne Dietz earned his honor by transmitting his time-honored values about hard work, loyalty and commitment to Sterling students in four very different decades. He had a simple formula: never ask of a player what the coach would not do himself.

When the Warriors ran their victory laps, Dietz ran with them. He may have had them practicing late at night, but he was used to that from his own childhood, when he would come home from practice, eat a late supper, do his farm chores, and run in the cornfields alongside the tractor he was supposed to be driving.

At times, he found it hard to understand why athletes were not as willing to make sacrifices as he was, but in coaching for 34 years, he consistently found a way to get through to young people, to get them to reach inside and put forth their best efforts. Many times they found themselves capable of more than they ever dreamed

Dietz also never forgot that the program was for the students, not the teachers. That is why the conference championships meant so much; those were for the team.

But when it came time for the state series, athletes did not necessarily enter the events that would pile up team points. They were allowed to choose the events which would give them their best chance at competing in the state meet – for many, a chance of a lifetime – even at the expense of team points.

In a large sense, no successor can hope to fill DuWayne Dietz’s track shoes. He is not a tough act to follow; he is an impossible act to follow.

Yet in another sense, Deitz has set a standard of how to run a program that will last long after he retires from coaching after the state meet.

He was a championship athlete at his alma mater, returned to it as a coach to teach championship skills and values, and he retires as a champion.

Well done, Coach. – May 17, 1989

Gorbachev’s

charisma

The photos have been moving on The Daily Gazette’s laser-photo machine, showing Mikhail Gorbachev standing in front of the Great Wall of China. A few months ago, when Mother Russia was still gripped by winter’s icy chill, he received a cool reception from Cuban leaders, but a warm reception from Cuban people under the hot Caribbean sun.

Wasn’t he just in London? Didn’t he pay ex-President Reagan a farewell visit fewer than 6 months ago?

About the only politician who has traveled farther in the past 6 months has been U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle, but that’s basically the administration’s way of keeping him out of sight and mind.

What is amazing is that wherever he goes, from Fifth Avenue to Carnaby Street to the Great Hall of the People, adoring crowds turn out. No politician has universally turned them out like that since John F. Kennedy.

He is not the first Occidental politician to visit Peking. But his admission that the Soviets deserved at least part of the blame for the deterioration in relations between Moscow and Peking this week was unprecedented.

Could you imagine Richard Nixon admitting in 1972 that the U.S. was at least partly responsible for poor relations with China between 1948 and 1972? Yet Gorbachev’s admission was tantamount to that.

It stunned the Chinese.

We have no illusions about the Soviets. The Soviet Union has not changed overnight. And there is no guarantee the taste of freedom Soviets are enjoying now will survive Gorbachev’s rule.

On the other hand, in his 4 years at the helm of the Soviet ship of state, Mikhail Gorbachev has emerged as the world’s most charismatic leader.

For U.S. policy makers, that presents a set of problems with which they had better deal quickly. In the world of propaganda, appearance is everything. – May 18, 1989

Leave city out

of this fight

Sterling’s City Council made a wise decision Monday night not to embroil itself in the Wallace School closing controversy.

Aside from the fact that the school is within the city limits, the city really has no authority over the school; it is in a separate taxing district, and voters mandate the school board, not the city council, to oversee school administration.

Citizens certainly are within their rights to ask the city to intervene; the city took the right course by choosing not to. – May 17, 1989

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