ebay beats headphones War taught local track great Harry McKnight that little things matter
Harry McKnight sat in his favorite chair chronicling his big life. Standout high school athlete at East. Marine who came under fire on Okinawa in World War II. Varsity O pole vaulter at Ohio State. Longtime teacher and coach at East and Walnut Ridge. Air National Guardsman who lent medical support during the Wall Crisis 1961. Co founder of the Ohio Track Club.
One story after another, each account topping the next. Big. Bigger. Biggest. And when our interview time was nearly up, when the chuckles stopped, the emotional flashbacks ended and the animated gestures ceased, the 91 year old Columbus resident leaned forward to share the secret of life attention to the small things, he said, a knowing smile sneaking from the corner of his mouth. the small things that will get you killed. Or save you. taking me on a journey of incredible size and scale, McKnight pulled it back, explaining that even the tallest skyscraper begins with a single brick. Ignore the details, no matter how small, and the gigantic never takes shape. The soldier never makes it off the Pacific island alive. The athlete never rises above average. The coach legacy dies on the vine. Everyone misses out.
Instead, McKnight has paid attention to the small things, and his former students and athletes, the Columbus community and the nation have benefited. The latest of many tributes arrived Dec. 2 when United States of America Track and Field honored McKnight and Jim Lorimer with its first Alumni Hometown Hero Award at the Jesse Owens awards banquet in Columbus.
impacted the future of women track and field in America, so when you do that it goes on forever, said Laurie Barr, who became part of the Ohio Track Club in 1971 after McKnight and Lorimer opened the club to women in 1959, before even most high schools offered girls track. gave his life to the sport, and his wife,
Barbara, was right there, too. and internationally, it is Barbara who brings out the scrapbooks to brag on her man. And it is Barbara who makes sure to point out that Harry works out three times a week and still does push ups like a champ, including at this year Ohio State Army game when he joined members of OSU ROTC in doing a push up for every Buckeyes point scored.
But that kid stuff compared to the ups and downs McKnight has dealt with since coming to Columbus from Detroit at age 2.
His stories are, in a word, mesmerizing. And no matter the scope, they all start with a small action that led to a bigger insight.
One such little story that resulted in a huge save:
It is early 1945 and McKnight is sweating his way through Marine basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina. His drill sergeant orders him to step forward and turn face. Except in the stress of the moment Harry turns left.
comes up and starts kicking me in the shin, McKnight said, wincing at the memory. says, swollen one is your right side. I was very careful from then on. ahead a few months to Sugar Loaf Hill on Okinawa, where 240 men from C Company went up and only 16 came back down, making it among the bloodiest battles of the war. McKnight was part of a machine gun platoon with the 6th Marine Division when he found himself positioned between two friends atop a ridge, looking down on nine Japanese machine gunners.
He picks up the story: can see me and I start picking them off. Got eight but could not find the ninth and the sergeant who followed us up yells, we gotta move out. I tell him there is one more and the guy laying next to me, (Wilford) McDermott, stands up and I say, get down. There one more. And he says yeah. pause and a swallow.
between the eyes. Crap. a track coach,
McKnight relied on the small things to achieve big results. Like where exactly to hand off a baton in the relay exchange zone. And he always had his athletes best interests in mind.