A GENTLE GIANT GONE

Bert Lyle,….. Dr Bert Lyle,…. died last week. For too many, his passing will be the same as his living, unnoticed and unappreciated except  for a very few who were fortunate and blessed enough to have enteracted with him and have him enter our lives. I referenced Bert in a previous blog in connection with a piece about Usain Bolt. Bert was as advanced in what he did as Bolt was in what he did. The biggest difference was Bert labored off stage and generally in the background. Just exactly what did Bert do ? First of all, as Director of Athletics and Track Coach at Texas Women’s University, he was a pioneer in women’s athletics well before Title IV ever become the law of the land. He hosted the first national track and field championships for collegiate  women in the late ’60s at Texas Women’s University,… before Title IV was even enacted in 1972 .

The fact that he was out ahead of the curve is the singular most revealing thing about him. He was athletically ahead of his time, and the rest of us so-called coaches were left scrambling trying to catch up. He was one of the very first coaches to look at women’s track and field from a scientific perspective. He was into biomechanics before it became the buzz word for coaches wanting to sound and appear knowledgeable.  He was a liberal racially,…. when being  “liberal” was not used and abused by racists and conservatives in the manner  it is today. He was a gentle man of the South, at a time when most gentlemen of the South ( and North ), were neither, and would disavow and deny the ideals and ethics he embraced with such quiet dignity and distinction. His tolerance was educating and enlighteninging,….not because he preached it, but simply because he lived it without fanfare, fervor or furor . He was what he was,.. because he simply was what he was. He never saw fit to embellish or even explain who and what he was. He simply lived honestly and  happily in the knowledge that he knew his stuff and enjoyed sharing it with others.

With Bert’s passing another fountain and reservoir of passion for the sport has left us. There will be no closing of the waters behind his passing because he occupied such a large area and took up such a big place for those of us who knew him and benefitted from our association with him.   

I can not say ” good bye ” to him because I see no good in his passing. So perhaps “…so long Bert..” is better because of the long time he has influenced some of us,…………. and the the long time he will continue to do so.

 Brooks T. Johnson

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