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Published: Tuesday, 2/23/2010

Woodmore track coach gets surprise of the year

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Mike Pendleton uses his business and people skills to help Woodmore's track program. Mike Pendleton uses his business and people skills to help Woodmore's track program.
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Upon returning home from a coaches clinic in Columbus last month, Mike Pendleton sifted through the goodie bag he had received and began to peruse a magazine.

Listed in The Runner were Ohio's track coaches of the year. Unbeknownst to Pendleton, he was one of them. "I'm just kind of glancing down to see if there's anybody I know," he said.

Although surprised to see his name in print, Pendleton is sure of the reasoning behind the honor. In his six years on Woodmore's staff, including the last two as head coach, he has helped raise what he guesses is about $70,000 for the program.

He also has raised a seemingly never-ending line of standout throwers within his household. Emily and Erin, both competing at the University of Michigan, have combined to win the last six Division III state discus titles, and his other two daughters, high-schoolers Carly and Megan, have shown serious promise in the sport.

"He helped get a lot of stuff for the track program," Erin, a UM freshman said. "It wasn't just about the throwers, it was for all of the kids so they could get better equipment."

Pendleton was honored as girls coach of the year after a seventh-place finish at last year's state meet. Eastwood's Gary White was recognized as boys coach of the year after the Eagles won the Division II state crown in the spring.

Upgrades under Pendleton's care include a new track with a two-lane expansion from the old surface, pole vault and high-jump pits, hurdles, and more weight room and training equipment.

Pendleton, who owns and runs the Elmore antique shop Once Upon A Tyme, has used his business sense and people skills to elevate the Wildcat program, Erin says. To raise money during last year's Suburban Lakes League meet at Woodmore, Pendleton approached area business owners with a marketing concept involving T-shirts to be sold at the meet.

"With times being tough, if you walk into a business and you ask them to give you money, they won't," Pendleton said. "Part of our success is in marketing. People like to have their name out there, so I've gone to businesses and asked if they'll sponsor T-shirts. They've been more than willing."

The biggest moneymaker over the last two years has been a throwing clinic held at the school. With the help of sponsors, Pendleton has brought in former U.S. Olympians John Powell (discus) and Brian Oldfield (shot put) to instruct a group of as many as 100 athletes. Of course, Emily, a four-time state champ, and Erin, a two-time state champ, are there to help. This year's clinic is April 18.

"We've turned out a lot of good throwers out there," Pendleton said. "I'm really happy with some of the progress the kids have showed since they've been coming."

Erin and Emily will vie in the Big Ten Indoor Championships this weekend at Penn State. Emily, a junior, is the reigning league discus champion (outdoor), and Erin has registered a stellar indoor season, finishing second in the weight throw in two invitationals.

"It's really good because [Emily's] there to push me and I'm there to push her, so we're constantly getting better," Erin said.

Contact Ryan Autullo at:

rautullo@theblade.com

or 419-724-6160.



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