Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Honoring El Paso Eastwood Coaching legend Doug Littlejohn

The below if for Coach Doug Littlejohn being recognized as a "Coaching Legend" at the Horizon ISD Cross Country Invitational on Friday September 16, 2016.

Coach Doug Littlejohn first came to Eastwood High School in 1969. After only teaching for a couple years he started coaching Cross Country in 1971. While a relatively new program/sport to many schools and athletes Coach Littlejohn started having success quickly sending several runners to the State Cross Country Meet during the 1970's. Eastwood really came into their own under Coach Littlejohn as a Cross Country powerhouse in the 1980's. The 1983 Boy's team finished 7th at the state meet after taking the District 2-5A title. That was the beginning of a very successful decade for Littlejohn. The 1984 Boy's team lead by Mike Montes and Joe Messer captured the Region 1 Cross Country Championship in Lubbock TX, then capped the season with the bronze medal at one of the most competitive state meets in TX history. The next 2 seasons, 1985 and 1986 had Littlejohn coached squads ranked in the top 10 in the State making a 4 year span of top-10 State ranked boys squads.

 (1983 Boys with Coach Littlejohn)

Taking a cue from the Boy's squads the Eastwood Girls team solidified themselves as a force to be reckoned with on the State level. The 1987 Bridgette O'Toole/Monica Sanchez led team replicated the 1984 Boys accomplishments and also captured the Region 1 Cross Country title and earned the bronze medal at the State Championships. The next year saw the Sanchez led squad take 4th at the State Meet, only 2 points out of their 2nd consecutive state medal. The next season was his last year coaching cross country.

 (1987 Girls with Coach Littlejohn)

Now that I have set the history, I started at Eastwood in the fall of 1982. I looked forward to being trained by the man who led Eastwood to the 1981 Region 1 Track and Field title. To this day that is the last El Paso team to ever capture the big school title at the region level in Track and Field. No other coach has accomplished that since. I knew he was a great coach, that was never in doubt. What I gained that I didn't expect was a man who still serves as an inspiration to me this day. In High School he was a second father to me. I still think of him this way in terms of how much I respect and regard him. He trained us to be race ready and competitive but he also taught us to be "life ready" I credit Coach Doug Littlejohn with many of the "right" decisions I have made in life. Under his watchful eye, I gained many lifelong friends that I hold onto to this day. He taught us to respect our rivals and that is something I think we certainly did as many of the long term friendships our team built with competitors last to this day.
I don't get to El Paso often these days but when I do a trip to see Littlejohn is a must. To my Mentor,   but most importantly, my COACH.You put Eastwood  High School Cross Country on the map as a state powerhouse in the 1980's on both the Boy's and Girl's level. Congratulations on this well deserved honor. Enjoy your day, I'm sad I can't share it with you.
-Joe Messer- XC-1982-85

Coach Littlejohn:  Life Coach

It's amazing how fast 30 years have gone and not a day goes by where Coach Littlejohns guidance and leadership continues to resonate. 

He not only mentored and pioneered a winning culture at Eastwood that thrives today,  he molded and inspired his teams to believe in themselves , to view failure as opportunity and insisted hard work drives results.

As I speak for the XC Class of 85' , THANK YOU!  Your legacy continues to play out to this day and inspires me to be the best husband, father and leader that I can be. 

God bless to you and your family 

-Mike Montes-XC-81-84

When my close friend, and former teammate, Joe Messer, informed me that Coach Littlejohn was being honored this weekend, I was thrilled. Then Joe asked me to write a few lines to commemorate the celebration, and I was humbled, and excited at the same time.

During my high school years, other than my father, Coach Littlejohn was the single most influential man in my life. He taught me so much about running, and made me understand the concept of such words as "team," and "pack running." Now, I am a high school coach and I find myself yelling the same words to my current teams. Each time I echo his words, a smile comes across my face. I live by the motto, "WWLD," what would Littlejohn do? Each time I give one of my runners a nick name, I think back to the nick name that Coach Littlejohn gave me, and in my defense Coach, my butt really wasn't THAT big!

However, his teaching went way beyond the cross country course. He taught me about the character of a man, and made me want to be a better person. I can't think of a more deserving man to receive such an award. Congratulations on this wonderful, and much deserved, award, Coach Littlejohn! It has been a long time coming.

Johnny "Big Nalga" Frias- XC-82-85

Coach Littlejohn-a 'Second Father' to many-I still hear that statement about him all these years later. He will always be 'Coach'--not 'Doug,' or 'Littlejohn' or even 'Mr. Littlejohn'--always 'Coach.'

He had the ability to be tough and supportive at the same time-his athletes respected him for that. He made you want to be better than you thought you could be-in track and your personal life.

I'm thankful for his guidance and enjoyed running track and CC for him at Eastwood
- Rick Oropeza-XC- 84-87

 Coach Littlejohn always walked around timing our team during practice with a stop watch. I would always see him over exaggerate pushing the stop button every time we passed our stopping point. He would tell us how our times were a record pace at practice.. "Great time guys!" he would yell out. Boy, did that make me feel proud of our group, my teammates. I would later find out he was making us believe we were running faster than we really were. From what I understand he would stop the time early and act like he was stopping it at a specific moment. That would explain the over acting of the stop watch when we ran our timed runs. However, that made us that much better during our cross country meets when it counted the most. He had us believe that we could outrun the competition, as a team, with these fabricated times in our minds. Well guess what? It worked. You see, we are taught in life that the outer world is more real than our inner world. Coach Littlejohn taught me that the opposite is true. "Running is 90% mental and 10% physical" Coach Littlejohn would tell us. What happens inside our minds, our thoughts, our dreams....ultimately becomes our reality. This is what determines how the outcome will be. We create our world in our minds. And those thoughts are fulfilled even before they are acted out in life. Coach Littlejohn never showed us our times on his stop watch. I never looked at his stop watch, or for that matter, knew if it ever worked. I do know that Coach Littlejohn has impacted my life and has molded me into the individual I am today. He is more than a coach to me, Coach Doug Littlejohn is my mentor. Thank you Coach for the ride......it was great!
- Henry 'Baybee' Garcia better known as Mijo to Coach Littlejohn -XC-83-86