Leg­endary coach still does it his way

North Penn Life - - SPORTS - By Tom Layberger

SFor Mont­gomery Me­dia o much has changed the past 50 years or so that to doc­u­ment what has tran­spired in world af­fairs or what has changed in the life­style of the aver­age Amer­i­can would be an ex­haus­tive task.

How­ever, as the days, weeks, months, years and decades have been shed from the cal­en­dar, one thing has re­mained the same: Bob Shoudt does things his way.

From the likes of Billy “White Shoes” John­son at Chichester in the 1960s to Tony Dar­den and Ron Liv­ers at Norristown in the 19T0s to, much more re­cently, Tay­lor El­lis-Wat­son at Spring­side Ch­est­nut Hill Acad­emy, the T1-year-old has in­structed and men­tored gen­er­a­tions of young men and women dur­ing a dec­o­rated ca­reer as a high school, col­lege track and cross coun­try coach. Suc­cess has fol­lowed Shoudt wher­ever he has gone, lend­ing val­i­da­tion to the fact that his way must stand for some­thing good.

“I don’t think my coach­ing has changed at all over the years be­cause, even though the kids (to­dayF might be dif­fer­ent, I re­ally be­lieve they still want dis­ci­pline,” said the King of mrus­sia res­i­dent, who has been coach­ing at Spring­side since 2008.

The prod­uct of men­nridge High and a mem­ber of the class of ’64 at what was then East Strouds­burg State Col­lege em­barked on a coach­ing ca­reer that would ul­ti­mately land him in seven halls of fame. Shoudt coached mul­ti­ple sports at Mor­risville High (in Bucks Coun­tyF through and af­ter col­lege and he be­gan to set his sights on a life­time of coach­ing when he took over the track pro­gram at Chichester High in 1966. He wanted the po­si­tion to serve as a launch­ing pad to big­ger things.

“I wanted to be a col­lege coach by the time I was 30 years old, so tak­ing that po­si­tion at Chichester was a ca­reer-ori­ented move,” said Shoudt, who led the Spring­side girls cross counWUy WHDP WR LWV fiUVW-HvHU In­ter-AC ti­tle last fall.

Shoudt did not quite reach his self-im­posed timeline of be­com­ing a coach at the col­le­giate level, but he more than made up for it by win­ning nu­mer­ous con­fer­ence ti­tles dur­ing two stints at Ursi­nus and one at Vil­lanova.

Be­fore he moved on to Ursi­nus, Shoudt spent a decade coach­ing sev­eral great ath­letes in high school. It was at Chichester where he coached John­son, who would at­tend Wi­dener where he vir­tu­ally re-wrote the school’s football record book and also starred in track. John­son made a name for him­self with the Hous­ton Oilers in the National Football League. He also played for the Fal­cons and Red­skins, but it was with Hous­ton that he was a dy­namic re­turn spe­cial­ist and re­ceiver who per­formed the “funky chicken” dance in the end zone af­ter scor­ing. None of it may have been pos­si­ble with­out Shoudt, though.

“Bob Shoudt was a great mo­ti­va­tor who made my ath­letic ca­reer what it was, bar none,” said John­son from his home in Du­luth, Ga. “He was an ex­cel­lent coach and a great teacher. He was de­mand­ing, but in a nice way. He worked hard and you wanted to work hard for him.”

Shoudt and John­son stay in touch fre­quently and two catch up in per­son when John­son re­turns to the mhiladel­phia area, which he does on oc­ca­sion.

“Af­ter all th­ese years we are still very friendly,” said Shoudt. “He was an un­be­liev­able ath­lete. Billy wore the white shoes, but he was not any kind of a showoff at all through high school. He never drank and he never used drugs and he is one of the best per­sons I have met in my life.”

Af­ter three years at Chichester, Shoudt moved on to Norristown where he led the track pro­gram to four state ti­tles. In 19T3 Norristown be­came the fiUVW VFKRRO LQ WKH VWDWH to cap­ture the Eastern National In­ter­scholas­tic Team Cham­pi­onship. As much as Dar­den and Liv­ers con­trib­uted to the Shoudt’s suc­cess with the Ea­gles, both con­tin­ued to star af­ter high school. In 19TT Dar­den helped lead AULzRQD 6WDWH WR LWV fiUVW NCAA cham­pi­onship and, two years later, he won the 400 me­ters at the man Amer­i­can Games. While at Norristown, Liv­ers was one of the best in the na­tion at the triple jump, some­thing with which he con­tin­ued to ex­cel as a three-time NCAA champ at San Jose State.

“It was a su­per ex­pe­ri­ence and we had a lot of suc­cess,” said Shoudt of his time at Norristown, where he re­mained in var­i­ous ca­pac­i­ties while coach­ing else­where be­fore re­tir­ing from the dis­trict in 199T. “They were fun times to look back on. My chil­dren were grow­ing up at that time and they hung around the track and the ath­letes. It was re­ally a neat ex­pe­ri­ence for me and the fam­ily.”

Shoudt’s daugh­ter, Cyn­thia, and son Robert Jr., not only grew up around the oval, but also ran at Up­per Me­rion. Robert went on to be a three-year cross coun­try cap­tain at Ursi­nus dur­ing Shoudt’s sec­ond term in Col­legeville. Th­ese days he out­races the com­pe­ti­tion when it comes to com­pet­i­tive eat­ing and has set sev­eral records in that area. The el­der Shoudt and his wife, Betty, will cel­e­brate their 50th an­niver­sary next May.

“She has put up with me for a lot of years,” said

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