By Alan Sorensen
My aunt and uncle in Dickinson, N.D., e-mailed me with the news last Saturday that my high school biology teacher and track coach bequeathed his worldly possessions to his alma mater, Dickinson State University. Not large by today's standards, his $750,000 gift was the largest single donation in the school's history and made the front page of the Saturday morning edition of the Dickinson Press.
That's just the kind of thing anyone who knew him would expect from Douglas Hyke. Hyke, who taught at Havre High School for 35 years, died in June at 73.
Though I was no great shakes as a jock, I did do better on Hyke's track team than I did in his classroom.
Try as he might, Doug was unable to make biology fun or exciting for me. Even his starfish dissection failed to intrigue me.
But track was another matter. Coach insisted that we do calisthenics and run a little to get in better shape. And he insisted that the sprinters, milers, hurdlers, jumpers and weight men work on their specialties. But after the 20 or so minutes of jumping jacks and sit-ups, couple of laps around the track and 20 minutes of working on specific event techniques, athletes had the freedom to play with other events.
On cold, snowy and blustery early spring days, we could be found in the gym using a springboard and the climbing rope to twist and propel our bodies over the pole vault bar onto foam rubber-filled burlap bags in the corner of the gym.
Doug Hyke made track and field fun, and in the process, he won four state Class A team titles. He also coached some of Havre's finest athletes: Glenn Havskjold, Harry Lippy, Lowell Gorseth, Larry Curtiss, Steve Stillar, Greg Angstman, Skip Grodahl, John and Dennis LaBonty, Spencer Yates, Mark Nelson, Roger Kiesling, Tom Chestnut, Dave Aageson, Dick McLean, Mike Kucera, Keith Johnson, Craig Adams, Jim Katt, Grant Compton, John Timmons, Doug Lutz, Barry Damschen, Noel Henderson, Danny Schaller, Greg Mapes, Ken Kiemele, Kurt Grimm, Randy Abdallah, Tom Raunig, Bob Bronson, Dave Cobb, Jeff and Jim Hagener, Leon Shortman, Ned Malone, Benji and Ken Stromberg, Stacey Dobson, Tim Ranes, et al. (I'm looking forward to hearing from readers about all my omissions from among Doug's stars.)
Of course, there were an awful lot of really fine athletes during those years who did not participate in track and field. Many of them were Doug's charges on the football line or devoted their talents to swimming, wrestling or golf. Most still had him in the classroom.
During Doug's years, few Havre High athletes went on to play college football or basketball (Harry Lippy, Jerry Morse, Mickey Nelson, Dave Cobb were among the most notable exceptions), but several of Doug's thinclads went on to distinguish themselves at the collegiate level.
Tim Ranes stopped by the office the other day and filled me in about Hyke's retirement from coaching. Hyke called it quits at the end of the 1974 season, Ranes said, in part because Havre High had moved up to Class AA.
Among Doug's last wishes was his desire that no memorial service be held in his honor. It was granted.
I went to the school Tuesday morning to look at some of the trophies his teams won. What I met upon my arrival were locked doors. It seems the campus is locked down during the day and any entrance to the school must be made through the north entrance.
As I walked into the school of my youth, I wondered what Doug would have thought of that.
In other local news, the Havre High School marching band is performing in Bozeman this weekend at Montana State University's homecoming. Go Blue and White.
It should be noted here, too, that two Havre High grads were among the royalty at UM's homecoming a couple of weeks ago in Missoula. Jon Swan, whose dad, Dr. Bob, was an honored alumnus at the festivities, was crowned homecoming king. Also, Beth Hayes was selected as a queen candidate.