The state track meet was supposed to be this weekend, and normally that is where Mike Zier would be.
Twenty years ago he showed up for his interview at Beach High School and administrators said they also needed a girls track and field coach.
He told them he took a class at Mayville State on coaching track and the rest was history.
This year, with everything that has transpired over the past few months, he is instead at home.
“I am sad. I am also remembering the state track meets of the past and 20 that I have been to before, and the good memories I have had there,” he said. “I feel terrible for the seniors throughout the state and country who weren’t allowed to compete. We always told kids this won’t last forever and make everyday count, and the stuff coaches say, but usually we get through a season when we say that. That really holds meaning this year.”
One thing about track that Zier enjoys is seeing students compete in individual events that go toward the team score.
Athletes may need to make sacrifices for the team in which races to run, and they are competing against themselves to make certain times.
Another thing is that everyone is a starter in track and field. In other sports the word “starter” may be a big deal, but everyone competes in track.
“Ultimately, when you run a race, you are competing against yourself. That includes mentally and physically, and you want to get a better time and do the best that you can,” he said. “There is no finger pointing at the end of the race. You are the one who did the long jump or scratched. That is tough for adults and young kids. There is no scapegoat. We all want to blame someone and with sports like track you can’t blame anyone.”
While he was originally planning on just coaching football, the track and field job is something that means a lot to Zier. It has shaped him into who he is today.
“Professionally, it is the most surprising, and satisfying and rewarding experience I have ever had. I never set out a goal to do this,” he said. “That is the beauty of life, you get into something and it becomes a passion.”
Since he was not able to coach track this fall and school has been online, this spring has been trying. He is a people person who enjoys talking and seeing others, and now his daily life is sitting in front of a computer screen.
He is hoping that life can get back to normal soon and due to missing the season, he plans on giving back to the community by hosting track camps as soon as it is safely possible.
One thing he has learned during the pandemic is that he will not take anything for granted ever again.
“The toughest part is if you are a people person then you need to be around people. I used to really enjoy my weekends where it was quiet and I could sit down and watch movies and play with my football cards,” Zier said. “I don’t think I’d enjoy a whole life of that though. I have to get out. What I learned is that I am not going to take those opportunities for granted when we get back to normal. Whether it is football, track or school, I won’t take it for granted.”