FREDERICKTOWN — There are plenty of medals, plaques and other awards to measure what Denny Stevens has done in 30 years as the cross country coach at Fredericktown.
For what he has meant to a generation of physical education students, the testimonials are everywhere.
“He is the most genuine person I know,” said Fredericktown track coach Bob Geiger, who works side-by-side with Stevens and is expected to take the reigns of the Freddies’ cross country program next fall. “He packs about 26 hours into a 24-hour day. He created a legacy and, if you ask former athletes about him, they don’t mention what (time) they ran. They mention how much they enjoyed the experience. They talk about how much they respect and enjoy running for him.”
The cross country program at Fredericktown stands as a living legacy of his work.
“We’re not just talking in terms of conference championships, state meets or those kind of things, which he has had plenty of,” said Fredericktown athletic director Kirk Manns. “We’re going to miss him in terms of his relationship, which he has developed, with the kids. It’s about the message that he gives the kids. We’re going to miss him all around — as a coach and in our school.”
Stevens cherishes the friendships, the relationships and the memories of 30 years.
“The memories are fabulous,” said Stevens. “Working with the kids has been wonderful. I have really enjoyed teaching and coaching. It was a passion. The people I have worked with have been fabulous. The teaching staff, the coaching staff and my assistants are part of such wonderful memories.”
The family atmosphere that Stevens built in Fredericktown is based on letting every member of the team know that their contribution is important.
“He understands the importance of participation,” said Manns. “He is always challenging the kids to be the best that they can be. He has had great success and great participation over the years. And he has been able to take the runners with more talent and make them better runners.”
When the Freddies said thank you to Stevens for 30 years of hard work, they did it with a twist.
“We actually had a big retirement thing for him in December,” said Geiger. “We had about 250 people. He didn’t know. It was a surprise. His daughter made a big, PowerPoint presentation. She had actually interviewed people like his mom, his brother (Dan) and the people who ran for him. I had all of his statistics compiled.”