Photo contributed

Coach Jim Styck (right) stands with last year shot and discus athlete, Rusty Kuhlmann.

Since 1983, volunteer Watseka High School track and field coach Jim Styck has provided numerous athletes with his expertise in the sports of shot put and discus. In his nearly 40 year career as a volunteer coach, Styck has taught the fundamentals of throws events and coached a wide range of students of both genders who have gone on to be successful in their respective sports at a state level.

Watseka track coaches Troy Simpson and Rich Dickte said without Styck the program would look much different.

“I’m not sure Troy and I could host track meets as we do without Jim,” said Dickte.

“He goes above and beyond what most people might think a volunteer coach does. He is always the first one at practice and usually the last one to leave. Jim not only runs the discus ring at every meet but he gets everything set up which really saves us a lot of time. Jim is highly respected by all area coaches and everyone wants him to run the discus ring when we are at their meets. That speaks volumes of the pride he takes in running the discus ring.”

Simpson added that Styck’s dedication to the program has been apparent from day one and is one of the reasons the team has been able to have such success over the years.

“Jim has spent countless hours working with our athletes, helping them learn the throws events and fine-tuning what they have mastered,” he said.

“He has made a significant positive impact in not only our program, but in the sport region-wide as well. He is one of the key reasons we have successful boys and girls track teams not only on the field, but in life as well. I know Coach Dickte and I enjoy working with him and he is part of the family. It is hard to imagine what our program would look like without him.”

Styck began helping out with throws events in 1983, giving eventual state record-setter Jeff Wood pointers on his technique.

“Basically, when I started out I was just a helper,” said Styck. “I asked coach Guinnee at the time if I could make a suggestion to Jeff and he said sure. So, I got in there and started showing Jeff what to do and what not to do, and that’s where it all started.”

Styck, a retired maintenance worker, has been disabled since 2006 and although he can no longer throw, he has developed alternative methods in order to demonstrate the proper way to throw.

“I always have a senior or other kids that I’ve brought up and understood the technique to demonstrate for me,” said Styck.

“I’d love to be able to throw, but I just can’t anymore. The older you get, it happens. But you’ve got to bring up these kids to help them understand how to throw properly.”

One of the things that keeps Styck coming back year after year is the willingness of the kids in the program who are eager to learn.

“The kids keep me young,” Styck said. “I’m 67 years old but I continue to watch them and help them. I’ve had a tremendous run with kids going to state. So, any time I can help them or give them a little advice is good to me and just warms my heart.”

Between the three coaches, Styck said the success is truly a group effort from each end.

“Coach Simpson and Coach Dickte are just as passionate as I am,” he said.

“Our success comes from the combination of the three of us doing what we can do to help these kids do better. The other two coaches are very thoughtful and we have a great group. Our success is because of the three coaches, not just one coach. We help out each other.”