By Dan Dafoe
Editors note: In this column Port Angeles’ Dan Dafoe provides memories of the lessons he learned from his former Crescent High School physical education teacher and coach Jim Maynard.
WHEN JIM MAYNARD arrived at Joyce in September 1963, 29 Crescent High School boys had no idea what to expect.
Twenty-five years old and incredibly fit, Mr. Maynard was our new physical education teacher and coach. From the beginning, we didn’t know how we would survive the workouts that loomed every school day. Although he had served aboard a submarine in the Navy, we thought he might have been an Army drill sergeant.
He demanded discipline, respect, and our very best effort as we ran countless miles on the backroads of Joyce. But he was not the kind of coach that barked instruction from the sidelines. He led by running with us, imploring us to always keep pushing.
By late October it started to make sense. Apparently confident in our progress, coach Maynard challenged his friend, the cross-country coach at Central Kitsap High School, to an unofficial dual meet on a 2-mile course laid out on Camp Hayden Road. We didn’t beat them but came close, amazed we had done so well.
And on Nov. 16, 1963, Crescent sent its first-ever cross-country team to the University of Washington Invitational at Green Lake in Seattle. The only Class B school in attendance at the statewide meet, Crescent placed 24th, beating South Kitsap and Tahoma high schools.
We didn’t win many games that varsity basketball season, but we might have been the best-conditioned team in the league.
In the spring, track and field season concluded our surprising year. In Ellensburg on May 23, 1964, Gene Kreaman became only the third athlete in the 42-year history of Crescent High School to make it to the state final in any sport. Competing at the combined Class A/B Track and Field State Championship, Kreaman finished fifth in the 880-yard run.
In one school year, coach Maynard transformed the way we trained, what we thought of ourselves and what we believed might be possible through dedication and hard work.
Coach Maynard stayed for two years at Joyce, then moved on to Roosevelt Junior High School in Port Angeles. There he taught physical education and health, making a difference in the lives of thousands of kids.
Leading again by example, he routinely ran to work at Roosevelt from his home at Four Seasons. His students quickly became familiar with the running route known as “The Big Block,” a daily challenge probably few of them forget. They were also exposed to related interests of coach Maynard such as ballroom dancing and the importance of learning how to swim.
These insights were provided by Rick Ross, who attended Roosevelt and is now associate dean for athletics and student life at Peninsula College. “I was personally inspired by many educators,” Ross said in a letter from December 2017, “but perhaps none more than coach Jim Maynard. His impact is legendary and the topic of conversation at possibly every Port Angeles High School reunion, as we reflect on his incredible career as a junior high school physical education instructor.
“His influence not only inspired many of our community’s top athletes,” Ross went on, “but also all of us ordinary people … ”
One of those top athletes was the Roughriders’ Steve Phillips, who finished second in the 880-yard run at the 1973 Class AAA Track and Field State Championship in Seattle.
Coach Maynard returned to Joyce in 1983 for the remainder of his career, teaching elementary school until retirement in 1996. Our three sons were fortunate to have had him as their sixth-grade teacher.
Now 80 years old, Jim Maynard is fighting a rare form of cancer. Although his days of working out and running are in the past, he is still leading by example of doing his best and never giving up. Helping others realize their potential has been the signature of his life. On many of us, he left a lifelong imprint.
Thank you, coach.