July 1, 2016

Mostly sunny

High school track: Jenkins to retire after this season

MEDINA — For more than 40 years, the last 11 guiding Medina’s boys track team, Bob Jenkins has been holding a stopwatch and teaching young men about track.

The veteran coach announced Thursday this season will be his last, as Jenkins plans to retire from teaching and coaching at the end of the school year.

A Youngstown resident, the 67-year-old reached retirement age as a special education teacher at Medina High School and felt it was time to move on.

“It certainly wasn’t the drive, because Medina is worth it,” said Jenkins, who spends around three hours of his day commuting. “But I’m at the age where state retirement starts to kick in and that’s a game-changer.”

Jenkins took the Bees job in 2003 after successful stints at his alma mater, Youngstown Ursuline, and as a volunteer assistant for Youngstown State University.

Jenkins has guided Medina to four conference titles — three in the now-defunct Pioneer Conference and one in the Northeast Ohio Conference — as well as seven Amherst Division I District crowns and three Amherst Regional championships, many of those trophies coming when pay-to-participate hurt his team’s depth.

The Bees have had at least three individuals at the state meet in every season Jenkins has been with the program. One of the highlights came in 2011, when he guided an underdog 4×100-meter relay to the big-school state title.

“They didn’t know me and were like, ‘Who’s this guy from Youngstown?’” Jenkins said of his first season. “It took awhile for my work ethic to be accepted, but it’s been fun. We’ve had a couple of undefeated seasons and some regional championships.”

In all, Jenkins was selected Gazette Coach of the Year for boys track five times.

What the coach is most proud of is the good portion of Medina standouts that moved on to collegiate careers at every level from D-I to NAIA, with former Gazette MVPs like Frank Shotwell and Donny Roys shining for Michigan and Ohio State, respectively.

“I really honor my seniors, though, by having them help the younger kids. It’s about paying it forward,” he said. “We’ve had good years and bad years, but I think my proudest moment was that we had 22 kids running in college at the same time.

“I can remember when Frank and Donny ran against each other in college and they sent me pictures. It really meant a lot that they thought of their old high school coach like that.”

As for the future, Jenkins won’t completely stop working and hasn’t ruled out coaching again. But for now he plans on being a fixture at his grandkids’ sporting events and spending time with wife Jean.

“It was a great time,” said Jenkins, who credited longtime assistant coaches Tom Fasko, Milt Place, Tom Krueger and Kevin Hutchinson for much of the program’s success. “It’s time for the program to find a younger coach who has the same energy I had and I know (Medina athletic director) Jeff (Harrison) will.

“I’m proud of all that we’ve accomplished, but if I’m down the road in a couple of years and see them jogging with their families, I’ll feel even prouder.”

Contact Dan Brown at sports@medina-gazette.com.