Bob Stephens made sure his runners developed a rhythm.
Whether at Hammond, Bloom Trail or Gavit, Stephens took it to heart.
"We had a lot of fun is what I remember most," Stephens said. "We used to sing popular songs when we went out for our runs."
"A 10-mile run, we sang a lot of songs. that was back when I could run with the kids," he said.
Stephens retired as the Gavit cross country coach, capping off a great coaching career at three high schools in two states.
"A lot of great athletes, great kids. It was a lot of fun," Stephens said. "I worked with and coached against some great coaches and athletic directors. Most of them (athletic directors) were great because they cared about the entire athletic program."
He succeeded Dan Candiano at Hammond in an era when the Wildcats had one of the top programs in the country and were featured in Sports Illustrated.
He won 63 consecutive cross country meets from 1976-1981.
At Bloom Trail, Candiano, the school's athletic director, hired him to coach girls cross country and track. His track teams were third and fourth in 1982 and 1983, respectively, in the Illinois girls Class AA state meet.
He also won 45 consecutive track dual meets in the old SICA East, which had track powers Thornton, Thornridge, Thornwood, Homewood-Flossmoor and Eisenhower.
"We ran against the best at every school I was at," Stephens said. "The old Lake Shore Conference, that was tough, and the SICA East, well that was just loaded."
Stephens got his start as a track star at Morton, under Nick Luketic. The quartet of Stephens, Wes Lukoshus, Rudy Skorupa and Barrrett Luketic set a school record in the mile relay of 3 minutes, 24.6 seconds.
"Nick Luketic was a big influence on my going into coaching," Stephens said. "He pushed us, and Dan (Candiano) gave me my chance when he asked me to help him out at Hammond High. We had Carey Pinkowski, Rudy Chapa and Tim Keough, three of the best ever."
He graduated from Purdue University Calumet and started teaching at Eggers Middle School. He and his wife, Alice, also a Morton grad, have been married for 38 years. They have two children, Kathryn and Rich.
Stephens is still coaching -- fishermen instead of runners. He has worked four years at Cabela's in Hammond and loves it.
"I love talking with and helping fishermen with finding Sonar equipment or GPS systems," Stephens said. "For me, it is being educated on the (marine) items, so that I can best answer or help someone with a question."