By Randy York, The N-Sider
The ultra-close friends/catalysts behind Nebraska's rich tradition in men's and women's track and field over the last 22 years, Frick and Frack won't be on the same track this summer. They, in fact, won't even be together as coaching sidekicks anymore because Maxwell is retiring and moving to Austin, Texas, with his wife.
Whenever I had the enjoyable opportunity to eat lunch with those two legendary Huskers at our training table, I used the historic names of Frick and Frack to honor their deep roots as friends and coaches in the sport they love most.
Let the record show that both saw their nicknames as rather comical. Their smiles were worthy honors for Father Time, even though both act half their age. Billy will be 74 on Dec.10 and Gary will be 73 on June 30.
The countdown continues for Maxwell, who will be honored on Monday, July 10 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Devaney Center hospitality room. The event is open to the public.Three weeks later, on July 31, Maxwell will officiallly retire.
Gary Pepin: Billy Maxwell Could Be Known as an Unadulterated Recruiter
I asked Pepin to measure the impact of his long-time friend, especially since both have been inducted into the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame. “Billy could be known as an unadulterated recruiter,” Pepin told me. “He was always a strong team player and was concerned with recruiting in all event areas. Billy felt that his biggest strength was recruiting, and the athletes that he brought to Nebraska made significant and lasting contributions to our total-team effort.”
Longtime Nebraska assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Matt Martin agrees with Pepin. “When I look back at more than 20 years of working with Billy, the things that will stick with me the most are his passion and dedication," Martin said. "Coaching isn't just a profession; it's a way of life, and Billy has embraced the lifestyle wholeheartedly. Whether it was scanning results, flying all over the world to recruit, or meeting with a young person who's having problems, Billy has always been willing to do all of the assignments that come with the job."
Recruiting Coordinator Martin Marveled at Maxwell's Wide Range of People
Maxwell never wavered in his approach. “One of the first trips I took with Billy was to the Penn Relays,” Martin said. “He went to bed at 10 and woke up at 6 every day, so he could scan the newspaper for all the latest news.”
That moment helped Martin realize the daily routine that leads to accomplishing any goals you set in life. “I have often marveled at the wide range of people and personalities Billy connects with,” Martin said. “To me that's the best sign of a person you can trust your child with.”
Make no mistake. “Coaches have more memories of highs and lows and agreements and arguments than you can ever share,” Martin said. “But one thing I am certain of is that Billy will impact my process as a coach, evaluator and recruiter for the rest of my career, and I am very thankful for that.”
Director of Operations: Maxwell Measures Excellence in More than One Way
“Coach Maxwell leaves a tremendous legacy on track and field,” Nebraska Director of Operations Da'Nelle Earl said. “He's been an incredible recruiter and coach and he's left his mark on the sport he loves so deeply.”
What sets Maxwell apart is “his ability to connect with so many athletes from all different walks of life,” Earl said. “He pushes them to succeed on the track and in the classroom as they transition into life after athletics.”
Earl said Maxwell is passionate about helping all student-athletes achieve goals they never thought attainable. “The numbers don't lie. His success is irrefutable,” she said, adding that Maxwell is “a legend and one of the best there has ever been. I'm so excited for Billy and (wife) Kay as they begin this new adventure in retirement together,” Earl said. “I am honored to have had the opportunity to work with him for the past 12 years, and I am so grateful."
Olympic High Jumper Dusty Jonas: Maxwell Developed Great Young Men
Dusty Jonas (above) is a Husker high jumper who competed in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. He believes that Maxwell's record speaks for itself. “He's been a consistent part of our program since 1996,” Jonas pointed out. “He consistently developed great athletes but most importantly, he also developed great young men.
“His consistency is what has made him a great coach for so long,” Jonas said. “With Billy what you see is what you get and that hasn't changed in the 22 years that he's been at Nebraska. It has been an honor to compete and coach for this team while he has been a part of the program.
“Personally, Billy taught me many lessons that I will carry with me for the remainder of my life and the remainder of my career as a track and field coach,” Jonas said. “His legacy at Nebraska won't be the records that his athletes achieved. His legacy is how he touched every one of his athletes' lives in a very positive way.”
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