By Drew Terhall
GREENVILLE — One of Greenville’s own is being inducted into the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches Hall of Fame this year. Tim Atkinson is a member of the 2023 OATCCC Hall of Fame for his 33 year career at Tiffin Columbian High School, Heidelberg University, Liberty Center High School and most recently at Patrick Henry High School.
Atkinson said it was a dream and goal of his to reach the hall of fame once he started coaching during his senior year of college at Heidelberg.
“I was really lucky when I started coaching, right off the bat, I had two mentors that were Hall of Fame inductees,” Atkinson said. “Milt Place and Ron Martin were both Hall of Fame inductees. So naturally, I thought, ‘Someday I want to be like them.’ Here it is 33 years later and that goal is achieved.”
Atkinson was a part of the Greenville cross country in 1983 that was the first Greenville team to reach the state championships. They finished third that year.
During his years at Greenville, he appreciated the kind of coach his high school coach was. Atkinson was coached by Dave Cummings. He said Cummings was a good mentor who knew how to push his athletes and was a kind person. Cummings would open his house to his athletes on the weekends and they would all hang out together.
When Atkinson had his chance to coach, he knew how he wanted to approach the position.
“When Milt had contacted me in college I thought, ‘I would like to coach the way coach Cummings had coached me.’ That’s how I modeled my coaching after,” Atkinson said. “My wife and I, over the years, have host them (athletes), made pizzas for them. It’s been more of a mentor situation rather than coaching for me.”
His coaching style helped him lead to a hall of fame career. Between both track and cross country, he coached teams to: 18 League Championships, 22 District Championships, 18 Regional Championships, 22 OHSAA State Meet team appearances, two Girls Division III State Cross Country runner-up finishes and three Girls Division III State Cross Country Championship finishes.
Atkinson also coaches individuals who earned: 12 District Championships, 3 Regional Championships, 20 athletes to receive All-Ohio Cross Country honors, an individual who earned All-Ohio Track and Field honors, 10 state qualifiers and two cross country state runner-ups.
For his track resume, Atkinson had four relay teams earn All-Ohio Track and Field honors and had 10 state qualifying relay teams. While the assistant Track and Field coach at Heidelberg, he had six athletes set school records and had the first national qualifier in the 10,000 meter run for Heidelberg.
Even with those accomplishments, Atkinson said the highlight of his career for him was to be able to coach his two daughters and son throughout their high school careers. One of his daughters, Brittany Atkinson, was a two-time cross country State Champion.
Atkinson is currently coaching both cross country and track at Patrick Henry High School. He said he enjoys being able to coach his track kids all year round, something he didn’t get to do at Liberty Center.
He took the opportunity to coach cross country at Patrick Henry so he can be a mentor to a younger coach. Atkinson said he plans to coach a few more years before letting A.J. Wagner take over.
“It gave me an opportunity to mentor a young coach the way I was mentored,” Atkinson said.
Atkinson will officially be in the OATCCC Hall of Fame after the association’s annual banquet on Jan. 27.
Contact Daily Advocate sports editor Drew Terhall at [email protected]