A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
A Senior Olympian Still Coaching And Competing
MARYLAND — A former Department of Agriculture employee, who never missed a day of work throughout his tenure, went from training thoroughbred horses, exploring track at age 35, to training student-athletes in track and field.
Meet Larry Colbert.
On a hot, humid day in July, at the Eleanor Roosevelt High track in 1989, Dr. Gerald Boarman, the incoming principal, informed Colbert that several coaches had decided to coach at the University of Maryland, and that he needed an assistant sprint coach.
During this juncture, Larry Colbert Jr. was attending the school in Greenbelt, Maryland. His father accepted the offer, and the rest is history.
For 17 years, Colbert and his staff made the Raiders a track and field powerhouse. Former runners, such as, Elgin Gordon, Ebony Robinson and Jermaine Lewis competed in Russia and Spain.
The Raiders won multiple county and state championships, countless of athletic scholarships were earned, and lawyers, doctors, teachers, pro athletes, Olympians, businessmen and coaches were produced.
Prior to reporting to the Prince George’s County Sports and Learning Complex, in Landover, Maryland, his job site, he stops by Glenarden, where he established an elite, nationally known summer track organization, to clean up a popular barbershop parking lot.
As an assistant field house manager, Colbert’s tour of duty starts at 6:00am until noon. Bill Sheehan has been a general manager at the Sports and Learning Complex for six years.
“From ages 2 to 90, Larry has touched many lives here, he extends their lives, and some of the kids he’s nurtured work here,” Sheehan commented.
Nowadays, you will observe Colbert cruising to Bowie State University, only minutes from his lavish home.
In 2006, Michelle Latimer, a first year head coach at Bowie State University, offered the two-time hall of fame inductee, a coaching position during the Junior Olympic Nationals held at Morgan State University.
Upon his resignation at Eleanor Roosevelt High, Colbert was highly sought after by many high schools. But, following a discussion between him and soul mate, Marlene, he grabbed the golden opportunity near home.
“I was a little apprehensive at first, but after speaking with coach Michelle Latimer, who has such a sweet personality, I felt this was the place for him to be,” says the first lady.
Derek Carter, the Bulldogs athletic director, takes no credit for hiring the Senior Olympian. “The way he cares about young people, he’ll make an impact on track, and in their lives,” says Carter.
Developing the Bulldogs track program where they can attract an insurmountable of talent from the metropolitan area is Colbert’s primary concern.
“The university itself has a lot to offer, it’s a beautiful campus, constantly growing,” says the world recorder holder.
Agnes Chase, a former D.C.I.A.A. high jump and hurdles champ at Dunbar, made All Conference in 2004. “He’s excellent, and I treat him like a grandfather, who helps me to get better with my endurance and speed workouts,” said Chase.
Colbert mentioned the attitudes and personalities on campus are far different from those in high school. “The student-athletes here know their purpose and how to achieve it, in order to reach the next level,” he tells BASN.
The assistant sprint coach turned 70 on February 6. In a new age group, he hopes to establish more records, maintain good health, and compete in all major indoor and outdoor meets, before performing at the World Senior Championship in Italy.
This past summer, Colbert won the 100, 200 and 400 meters at the Potomac Valley Championship in northern Virginia. “Making a comeback from a major injury in 2003, I am quite pleased with my overall performances,” said the trendsetter.
At age 61, Colbert ran a 10.85 in the 100 meters, which was recorded as one of the “Great Penn Relays Performances.” He’ll compete at the Penn Relays in April.
This weekend, Colbert, Bob Lida, Dick Camp and Richie Rizzo will represent Sprint Force of America in the relay races at the Prince George’s County Sports and Learning Complex.
Without a sponsor, he manages somehow to support himself. Next month, the man, who has a 60- year old body frame, will appear at the New Balance Amory Track Meet in New York, the Eastern Regional Championship in Ursinus, Pennsylvania, and Boston for the Nationals and the Texas Relays in Dallas.
His wife knew from the beginning that he would run until he could no longer run.
Colbert trains at the Sports and Learning Complex in the morning and at Bowie State University in the evening. Running for 35 years for the love of the sport and maintaining good health, he trains under Stan Mullins for major track meets.
“Larry is going to tear it up in the 70 age group, our relationship is like no other and he’s never out of shape,” says Mullins, a D.C. Retired Coaches Hall of Fame Inductee.
A candidate for the Reginald F. Lewis History and Culture Museum in Baltimore, and the subject of a documentary, Dr. Taft Terry, executive director of the museum believes there exists opportunities at the museum for our mutual benefit.
Quite frankly, he’s more than worthy.