By Gary R. Rasberry
In all the hullabaloo about the demise of the Coldwater gymnastics program, I'm going to do something that nobody in positions of power at the school has apparently done before, during and after that meeting on Tuesday night.
That is to say this:
Thank you, Jane Diller.
For over 30 years, you have run the Coldwater gymnastics program with a touch of class and a love of the sport that a few other coaches around this area need to show.
When I started as a writer 111/2 years ago, one of my first major assignments was covering the Coldwater gymnastics team. As I walked into the gym to cover my first gymnastics meet, I introduced myself to Jane, who greeted me with a smile that could light a gym and a warmth that showed she really did appreciate my presence.
That was during the 1993-94 school year, the year the Cavalier team went to the state tournament and finished a respectable sixth in the standings.
That didn't end my working relationship with Jane and the program.
I followed the team even when I wasn't doing much for the newspaper. Heck, one time I went right from my job at Charlie's Pastries, showered up at home and make the 90-minute trip to Dublin just to watch Jane's daughters Melissa and Lindsay Simons compete at the state individual tournament on a Saturday.
When I came back to writing and my responsibilities increased. I volunteered to cover the annual Cavalier Invitational and do the annual previews for the team. Even if I got home at 4 a.m. after putting the Saturday paper to bed, I would be there at 10 a.m. as the meet began.
No matter when I saw Jane, be it at a meet, the annual preview or just out and about, the greeting was the same as that first meeting. It was always a "Hi Gary" in a voice that could put someone into insulin shock because it was so sweet.
Not only was it sweet, it was honest. She really was happy to see me.
I have dealt with coaches who wished not only that I was not there, but sometimes after losses, wished they were somewhere else.
When Jane said she's happy to see someone, she absolutely means it.
No matter the result, when I talked to Jane about her team, it was all positive. She always praised her team, and the other team as well. When I talked to her for previews, she worked hard to make sure that everyone got a mention. She never wanted to leave anyone out.
Her whole family -- Lindsay, Melissa, her husband Dan, the younger children Justin and Nicole, her parents Lou and Ann Brunswick and her brothers and sisters -- were always nice to me when they saw me out and about.
Then there were her other kids, the girls that went out for gymnastics every year. No matter what their skill level was, she supported them fully and cheered them on in their routine.
There may not have been any Mary Lou Rettons on the team, but they were all winners to the people that mattered: the teammates, the coaches and the parents and family.
And speaking of the gymnastics parents, I have never seen as loyal a group ever in covering sports. There was never any confrontations with the coach over playing time, no blatant backstabbing. No booing of participants or coaches. Just a love and support of a program that never got as much credit for the betterment of students as it should have received.
I know I will see Jane out and about in the years to come, but I will miss our meetings when gymnastics season comes around. I will miss the phone calls about how the girls did at a meet. I could be working on a number of different items and the calls you made into the office were never a bother.
If the love for the sport that you have had for over 30 years could be bottled and sold, every coach should be required to purchase at least one bottle.
So, as a sportswriter and someone who has been an observer of sports for years, thank you, Jane, for being a positive role model for a lot of young girls over the years.
Thank you for being so gracious to myself and everyone else at the Standard whenever we came out to cover meets.
And, most of all, thank you for giving a large part of your life to keep alive something you love.
I know that many others in Coldwater are wanting to say thank you as well.
Too bad none of them are on the school board or in the superintendent and principal's office at Coldwater Exempted Village Schools.