Pat Logan: an appreciation for a man most unique

BHS 4x400 relay teams after the finals at the 3A State Track and Field Championships in Pasco on May 24, 2008. Girls placed  second and the boys placed  fourth. (L-R): Stephen Vassiliadis, Ian Shiach, Anthony Carter, Austin Hallet, Pat Logan, Lizzy Brackett, Sylvia Stellmacher, Courtney Odell and Maddy Sheldon. -
BHS 4x400 relay teams after the finals at the 3A State Track and Field Championships in Pasco on May 24, 2008. Girls placed second and the boys placed fourth. (L-R): Stephen Vassiliadis, Ian Shiach, Anthony Carter, Austin Hallet, Pat Logan, Lizzy Brackett, Sylvia Stellmacher, Courtney Odell and Maddy Sheldon.
— image credit:

The terrible news spread like wildfire among the Bainbridge running community: Pat Logan was dead, the victim of an apparent heart attack on Monday morning while he ran his beloved trails at Hidden Cove.

Pat Logan had coached several Bainbridge High School state champions, but more importantly, he inspired thousands of runners during a coaching career spanning nearly half a century to not only love the sport but also to achieve excellence. Not necessarily excellence in terms of winning races, but excellence in terms of realizing their potential as runners and as human beings.

And with Pat, it wasn’t about padding a resume or boasting about what his kids had done. He genuinely cared for them and his excitement was in watching them achieve marks that in many cases were far beyond what they thought they were capable of reaching.

A couple of years ago Pat announced his retirement. I wrote a letter to the editor, thanking him for his service. I should have known better. One might sooner expect the Clintons to abjure politics. A few weeks later I was running the trails. There was Pat, stopwatch in hand, timing half a dozen eager young runners.

Pat’s approach wasn’t for everybody. Some kids didn’t respond to his coaching methods. He could seem harsh, overbearing, too demanding. And he definitely rubbed some parents the wrong way as well. Pat was so committed to running that he couldn’t understand why kids with talent wouldn’t do everything in their power to nurture that talent.

But Pat was hardly one-dimensional. His passion for running was leavened with a great sense of humor. He was very aware of what was going in the world around him. And he was a seasoned world traveler, in particular Italy and Austria.

I don’t know if he ever went to Greece, where he would have been a perfect fit. He is an ideal exemplar of the ancient Greek virtue of arête, which originated in Homeric times and means “being the best you can be” or “living up to your full potential.”

Pat exemplified arête in his own person. Short and stocky, he fit almost no one’s vision of a runner as he shuffled along in his trademark socks and sandals when he wasn’t on the track or trails. Yet by sheer force of will he made himself into a very good runner, and when he wasn’t working with kids he worked hard to maintain the high personal standards he set for himself.

The ancient Spartans had a saying when their warriors set out for battle: Come home with your shield or on it. On countless occasions, he and his kids returned with their metaphorical shields, knowing that they had done the best they possibly could whether or not they been victorious.

It is therefore tragic that on the morning of Nov. 17, 2008, Pat Logan came home on his shield.

Yet is also fitting that Pat died doing what he loved with a burning passion. As the poet Dylan Thomas wrote, “Do not go gentle into that good night.” Up until his last moment, Pat was pushing against the limitations of his body, pushing to live up to the quest for excellence that animated his entire being.

Here are a few selections from the many tributes to Pat:

“Pat lived by his own rules. When he arrived at practice one day with his lip split open and gushing blood from a weight-lifting accident, he refused my repeated offers to take him to the doctor or hospital. He had a job to do and nothing was going to get in the way. But what I loved most about Pat was his passion. It was spread around in many ways. He loved his dog so much, telling me that he couldn’t stay longer on his annual trips to Austria because it would kill his dog of loneliness. He understood and was encouraging, when many other teachers and coaches didn’t, what it meant to Sylvia to compete in 4-H with her animals.”

– Terry Samilson

“His love for running, coaching and his determination to win were clear. With his booming voice ingrained inside our heads, he sparked a fire inside all of us, previously unknown. He molded us into the athletes we didn’t know we were capable of being. His memory is forever imprinted in our minds and in our hearts.”

– Michelle Baggett and Zena Hemmen

“What made Pat such a great coach was not how hard he pushed us (although believe me, he pushed us hard), rather it was the pure joy displayed on his face every time he saw one of his runners top their personal best. You knew just by that look that he wasn’t volunteering his time to relive past glory, but to make each one of us the best we could be.”

– Zach Ainsley

“Pat was like a dog rooting for a bone, always looking for raw talent to mold into a polished athlete. He coached to win with the tenacity of a champion. It was his life, ingrained into every cell of his being.”

– Cathy Tarbill

“He was a truly unique man and a real force of nature. I have never met anyone with his passion and dedication to coaching and the people he coached. He gave selflessly of his time, talent and knowledge with absolutely no thought of personal gain or recognition.”

– Garry Osmond

“Pat was the most generous and dedicated coach I have ever had or met. He had practice nearly every day no matter what the weather conditions. He gave rides to and from practice so kids could make it, and when kids were sick he would go to the gym after his regular practice with the team and would give the sick kid a separate workout. He will be missed by his family, his athletes, and anyone who knew him. He affected the lives of many athletes and their families.”

– Isabel Ferguson

“During my senior year Pat took a state-caliber swimmer, a national-level debater, a former (weight) thrower and a kid who only had enough speed for the two mile and turned us into the best 4-by-400 relay team in the state. Pat did this time and time again. Pat’s spirit will live on in all our hearts and I know he will be there to watch the generations of young runners still to come.”

– Bevan Taylor

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