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Home arrow Opinion arrow DAN MOODY LEAVES BIG SHOES TO FILL

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DAN MOODY LEAVES BIG SHOES TO FILL

GIVING POINTERS: Dan Moody takes Enterprise runner Krista Stangel aside after she broke a record at district. Moody retired this June after nearly 20 years at Enterprise High School. Stangel was one of his best athletes this past year, finishing third at the 2003 1A-2A state cross country championships, and second in both the 1500- and 3000-meter runs at the 2004 2A state track and field championship. (The Observer/RAENELLE KWOCK).
GIVING POINTERS: Dan Moody takes Enterprise runner Krista Stangel aside after she broke a record at district. Moody retired this June after nearly 20 years at Enterprise High School. Stangel was one of his best athletes this past year, finishing third at the 2003 1A-2A state cross country championships, and second in both the 1500- and 3000-meter runs at the 2004 2A state track and field championship. (The Observer/RAENELLE KWOCK).

By Dan Jones

For The Observer

Records and awards only show Dan Moody's success as a coach.

But his purpose has always been to help the kids.

"More than trophies, it is just great to let them find out what they are capable of doing, that is more of an accomplishment," said the long-time Enterprise track and field and cross country coach.

Moody embodies the traits of dignity. The man has always been a warrior, a competitor, a defender of what is right. He's grizzled with age and experience, but an indomitable spirit still remains.

Moody, the physical education teacher at Enterprise, retired in June after spending nearly 20 years there. He still wants to come back next year to help out with the track and field team. "I don't know if I could totally get out of it," he said.

Moody will be difficult to replace.

Wallowa cross country and track coach Jess Turner summed up Enterprise's attachment to their living legend best.

"I would hate to be the coach that steps into his shoes. They are huge shoes to fill," he said with certainty.

One of Moody's star athletes, Krista Stangel, an incoming junior, said, "I don't think anyone can replace him."

Moody has earned respect because of his special skill connecting with his kids. He wanted to be a juvenile counselor when he was in college, but his adviser steered him into education.

He was raised in Baker County, the son of a construction worker and homemaker, and bounced around to Baker City, Richland and Halfway, eventually graduating from Pine-Eagle High School.

He played football, basketball, baseball and competed in track for three years. He was state champion in the 100-yard and 200-yard sprints his senior year.

After attending Treasure Valley Community College and Western Oregon University, he landed his first teaching job in Bandon.

He bumped into a former dean of students at Treasure Valley who, it turned out, was the superintendent at Bandon Middle School.

After a year and a half at Bandon Middle School, he taught in Sweet Home for four years. He moved on to Wallowa High School where he taught social studies and coached football, track and wrestling from 1980 to 1982.

After that ... "I got married," Moody said.

He has three kids who have all graduated from high school, and who have all competed in track and field.

Stangel had Moody as a PE teacher and track and cross country coach. She said the atmosphere he creates drives kids to succeed. "He always had us ready when we needed to be, he just knows what needs to get done."

Being prepared for the big races is what made Moody the best, said accomplished Union coach Tom Hayes.

The two legends tried to figure each other out for 20 years, and neither let up in the field of competition.

Hayes, who retired in 2002, said, "The most shocking thing that ever happened to me was about a year or so ago. Dan came up to me and hugged me. I hug my sons, my father, my friends, everybody! But the thought that Dan Moody might actually like me? We had battled tooth and nail so long and at so many venues, that was a good feeling."

Hayes said Moody's successful teams can be credited to many people, but Dan was what made them great.

"In my estimation he is about the most underrated cross country coach in the state of Oregon," Hayes said. "Only about five years ago people started to recognize that. By and large, it's because of Dan Moody."

The local coaches seem to agree Moody just knows how to win.

Wallowa coach Turner said Moody's athletes have great trust in him and respond to his teaching methods.

Hayes said he has a sincere respect for Moody because he was always challenging authority and showing nothing but heart.

Moody became cross country head coach in 1991. His teams have placed at state several times, and last year, Enterprise had the best boys' and girls' teams combined showing of any 2A school at state. He said his most memorable moment at Enterprise High was in 1996 when the track and cross country squads racked up consecutive championships.

Chris Lozier, a 2004 Enterprise graduate, competed in track and cross country under Moody. "He put together kids who didn't necessarily want to run, or kids who thought they never could," Lozier said.

Lozier said that Moody contributed out-of-pocket expenses, like spending thousands of dollars on pole vault pits.

"We have more parents at away meets than the parents at the home events of other schools," Moody said. "It is tremendous. They really follow their kids."

Moody has gone through and conquered many challenges, but has yet to feel the full impact of retirement. "I won't know until it sets in next fall."

He senses that, even with his success, time has been lost. The retirement, and the recent death of his older brother, have forced him to stop and evaluate life again.

"I want to be able to enjoy some things, I know that. I am an avid outdoorsman, I love to hunt, and am looking forward to doing that," Moody said. "The one reason for getting out was my brother dying at such a young age. Life may be shorter than what you might think. I am trying to enjoy my kids a little more because I have not been with them as much I would have liked to have been."

So what was the coach's secret after all?

"You try to learn from your past. It is hard to remember all the kids and teams that you've had, and try to remember the times. I think back and am honored. But it is always looking forward," Moody said.

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