I first met Willi in 1964 when I joined the Trail Track & Field Club. Willi was always looking for athletes and I had done quite well at the Elementary School Track Meet and somehow I was invited to join the Track Club. 1964 was a very busy year as both Gerry Moro and Diane Gerace had qualified to go to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. To this day I still remember running 40 200’s with Diane Gerace in the rain at Haley Park.
Willi attempted to help all of his athletes to perform to the utmost of their potential, whether they were Olympians or just Club athletes. I remember Willi helping several athletes prepare for the BC Championships for the Physically Disabled. Willi liked the more technical events such as Pole Vault and Hammer Throw but his favourite area was the multi events. Willi also liked “team” events such as relays.
Willi didn’t always have good facilities such as the Fieldhouse that carries his name. Harry Haley and I lifted weights at Selkirk College when Willi worked there and then once he had retired we lifted weights in his basement. Willi actually created a weight room in the basement with help of his athletes. To do an Olympic lift you had to go into the “pit”.
Willi got me into coaching without me really knowing it. I was in my mid 20’s and still training to keep in shape and he started off giving me the sprinters to do the same running program as I did. As time went on Willi would have me coach the throwers and then the jumpers, giving me subtle hints on what was good and bad with their technique. Willi was way ahead of his time when it came to coaching techniques as even to this day when I take a coaching course or clinic they are still teaching things that he was doing 30 and 40 years ago.
In closing I would like to say that one of the reasons that I am still coaching the Track Club is to preserve Willi’s legacy.
~ Dan Horan