Monday, June 25, 2012

Skyline High School Math Teacher Doubles As A Track Star

The Olympic Diving Trials were on television the other afternoon and my daughter says to me, "My former* math teacher is competing at the trials. In something long distance--the marathon or something."
"The marathon?" I said.  "Do you think maybe it's the steeplechase?"
She gave me the "I don't know" shrug.
"What's his name?" I asked.
"Mr. Nowitzke."

Note the Skyline blue shirt!
Now the reason I said the steeplechase (do you even know what happens in the steeplechase?) is that I remembered something that happened. . . umm. . . about four years ago.

Four years ago, in early summer, I was invited to sit on a Community High School interview team for a new math teacher. We did three interviews. One of them was by phone. The interviewee had a good excuse, though. He was competing in the 2008 US Track and Field trials for the Olympics. In steeplechase.

So I remembered that. Nowitzke didn't get the job at Community (phone interviews are hard!), but I guess he got hired at Skyline shortly afterward. And at the 2008 trials, he came in 10th in the 3000 meter steeplechase. That 2008 phone interview is my Olympics brush with fame.

Watch the 2008 Steeplechase final here:

Nowitzke was an All-American runner at EMU
I don't think Nowitzke is the only Ann Arborite who is going or has gone to a 2012 US Olympics trial, but I'm pretty sure he's the only Ann Arbor school teacher this year! (He is also an EMU graduate; that's where he ran track and field and cross-country. So sure, Ypsilanti, you can take some credit too.)

This year, Nowitzke returned to the Olympic trials. Unfortunately, he didn't make it into the Steeplechase finals. (See the results here.) The first 14 advance and he came in 21st. Still, in my book it's pretty impressive to make it to the Olympic trials, not once, but twice.

And that's not all that is impressive. In fact, by focusing on the Olympics part, we might actually miss the most impressive part. Being a new teacher is a lot of work. Most new teachers don't have a lot of extra time during the school year. And conversely, many people who go to the Olympic trials don't even hold full-time jobs, because being an elite athlete also requires a tremendous amount of dedication and time. Juggling those two things--being a new teacher and being an elite athlete--is tremendously difficult. 

Corey Nowitzke, if you can do those two things at the same time, you can probably do anything. We expect great things from you! Today, Corey Nowitzke is probably mostly feeling sad that he didn't make it to the final heat in the steeplechase, and he won't be going to the Olympics. You can make him feel better though. Tell Corey Nowitzke that you're proud of his hard work by emailing him at

*Former, in that she is now a graduate of Skyline.
**And by the way, my daughter wasn't completely wrong about the marathon connection. Corey Nowitzke won the Detroit Free Press half-marathon in 2011.

1 comment:

  1. Hello,
    My name is Tanya Wildt and I am the community engagement editor for Heritage Media in Saline. We produce eight local weekly papers and are online daily. Part of my job is to recruit new bloggers for our blog page. We link to local blogs and include a short paragraph and photo about your blog for our readers to see. All we ask is that you add a Heritage news widget to your blog. Please take a look at our blogs page, and if you are interested, I’d love to help get your blog set up on our site. You can contact me at Thank you for your time.