By Todd Hummel
The Daily Item
For thirty years, Fred Lenig has called Blue Jays’ Stadium home.
Be it on the field in the fall as an assistant football coach or in the spring as head boys track and field coach first before becoming the girls coach for Central Columbia, Lenig has spent plenty of time coaching.
However, that all comes to an end — hopefully for the Selinsgrove resident — when his girls track team’s season wraps in two weekends at the PIAA meet at Shippensburg University.
Lenig thinks it’s the right time for him to step down for two reasons: the Blue Jays’ girls track is in good shape and the girls that were freshmen his final year of teaching will graduate in June.
“They are going to lose Ellen (Shepard) and Graycie (Juckes) and they will miss them but there is a strong group coming back,” Lenig said. “The girls that are seniors this season were freshman the last year I taught before I retired. I got to know this group really well.
“I figured it would be a good time to leave.”
Lenig is certainly leaving on top as the Blue Jays’ completed what Lenig believes is the school’s first ever undefeated dual meet season in girls track, claiming the Heartland Athletic Conference-Division II title outright. It’s the third time in five years Central Columbia has won at least a share of the conference title.
The Blue Jays also have some high hopes for the post season with a group of sprinters led by Shepard, who has medaled at the PIAA meet each of the last three years. Central has to be considered one of the favorites to win the District 4 Class AA team title.
Central Columbia also just finished its first season on its brand new all-weather track. Blue Jays Stadium was remodeled completely by donation with an artificial turf football field and new track.
Lenig began his track coaching career at his alma mater, Selinsgrove, helping Don Wilhour coach the boys team and helping start the girls track team at Selinsgrove with Donna Prince.
He moved on to Central Columbia where he coached the boys team for 10 years, before taking a year off.
“I wanted to spend time with my kids, go to their AYSO games (and) things like that. I volunteered and helped with the hurdlers in 1995,” Lenig said. “They talked me into taking the girls job in 1996 and my kids said they didn’t mind and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
If there is one regret for Lenig is just small one. He’ll finish his career with 97 dual-meet wins.
“It might be nice for one more year, but its fine with me,” Lenig said. “It isn’t important.”
Lenig doesn’t think he can get around as well as he used to with knee and back issues. He said he’s notices at most at one of his favorite parts about track season – the invitationals.
“Everybody says those things are too long, but I really enjoy them, but I just can’t stand that long anymore,” Lenig said. “It tends to be a burden.”
Though it doesn’t sound like Lenig intends to miss many Invitationals or even Blue Jays track meets after he retires as coach as the word retirement implies.
“I plan on volunteering as a coach next year. (Central Columbia) only has (four total) coaches between the two programs. I think it will take some of the burden off the other coaches. It can spread you thin,” Lenig said.