COLORADO SPRINGS — Long-time cross-country coach Alan Versaw began his retirement campaign by delivering packages for UPS during the Christmas holiday. The best gift he ever delivered, though, was teaching kids how to be better runners — and humans.
“He’s very invested in us as people, and not just athletes,” said Tanner Norman, who graduated from The Classical Academy in 2017. “It’s 22 years of kids coming through his program, and every single one of them has been influenced by him. It’s been a very positive influence he’s had on our lives.”
The soft-spoken Versaw will never admit his humility, and he’s fine with that. Twenty-one state championships speak for themselves.”Maybe it’s a little like steering a rocket ship,” Versaw said. “You’re guiding it, but it has an energy all (on) its own beyond anything you put into it.”
He won 14 titles as coach of the TCA girls team and an additional seven leading the boys. The kids may have done the heavy lifting, but consistency over two decades led to a thirst of wisdom from other programs.
“We would all walk behind him in a little pack (at the state championships),” said 2019 TCA grad Katie Flaherty. “Everybody would stop and talk to him and ask how he was doing. We were just Versaw’s girls hanging out in the back waiting for our coach to tell us what to do. But everyone wanted to talk to him because he was the greatest and he knew everyone.”
“People talk about how many lives that coaches touch, and it seems like one of the nice things people say about coaches until you stare it in the face,” Versaw said. “Then you realize, ‘Oh, that really is what happened here.'”