HUTCHINSON, Minn. (WCCO) — If you’re going to do something for 50 years, it pretty much goes without saying that you better like doing it. And if you’re going to do it with the same person all that time, you better like them, too.
“We were the only two people in the Hutch Cafe staring at each other about halfway across the room, and finally we struck up a conversation,” Len Lasley said.
That was back in 1967. Len and Lowell Himle were in town to interview for teaching jobs in Hutchinson.
“I came here right out of college,” Len said. “We both did.
They became fast friends and, in the fall of ’67, started their new careers as teachers and track coaches on the same day. They’ve been at it, ever since, with 2017 marking their 50th year together as coaches.
“I know lots of coaches that have coached 50 years. Not a lot, but a few,” Len said. “But for two of us to be doing it together for 50 years, I think that’s pretty unusual. I’ve never heard of it.”
Len’s the head coach, and Lowell his faithful assistant. In a practical sense, it’s really more of a partnership — each handling the events they’re more qualified to lead. Both have been honored as Coach of the Year in Minnesota.
“I didn’t know if I’d be in Hutchinson over three years at the time,” Len said.
So why keep coming back, all these years later?
“Why stop?” Len said. “To me, I think it’s really kept me young and kept me going, and I could be sitting at home and eating potato chips, and watching reruns of Gilligan’s Island, but this keeps me going and I love it.”
“It’s really been the kids that I’ve worked with that keep you coming back,” Lowell said. “I’ve had some awesome athletes over the years.”
A lot has changed in track and field over the years — 50 years will do that — and they’ve had to change along with it.
“We’re doing a lot different workouts than we used to do,” Len said. “We used to grind them into the ground, think that volume was the answer.”
It’s their ability to adapt that has allowed them to stay successful.
“You keep up, or you get lost,” Lowell said.
But after all this time, one thing has never changed: the amount of fun they have doing this together. They say they’ll keep doing it as long as they can.
“You get older, you enjoy the days, each one as they go by, a little more,” Len said.
A hundred years combined, and counting.