Amy Deem’s life full of passion

Passion has defined Amy Deem’s feelings for track and field at every stop she has made along her route through her life.

Deem’s love for the sport started at an early age, her dad ran and she was always racing people as a kid.

“It (track and field) was really just something for me to try,” Deem said. “It wasn’t until I got to Hamilton that Coach Mollendick taught me how to jump hurdles and helped me develop my passion for the sport.”

Her affection for her craft continued to grow during her time at Parkersburg High School. The hurdles continued to call to her under the watchful eye of PHS legend Susan Gardner.

“She really loved what she did,” said Gardner on her recollection of Deem’s time as a Big Red. “She was so enthusiastic and she put in the work and you almost had to throw her off the track.”

Just how hard was it to “throw her off the track.”

Well … A broken limb couldn’t keep her from competiting.

One of Deem’s favorite memories of her time as a Big Red stems from the unfortunate incident.

“I still remember it very well and I can’t remember anything,” said Deem laughing. “We were at the last track meet of the year in 1984 at Laidley Field and I fell on the eighth hurdle of the 300 and broke my arm.

“Usually when people find out their arm is broken they are like ‘Oh no.’ But I was determined to compete and help the team and I remember Coach Garder worked everything out so I could compete.”

Deem long jumped, ran the hurdles and in relay events as the Big Reds went on to win the team title.

“We set the relay up so she could run last and receive the baton with her good arm,” said Gardner. “She just took her arm out of the sling and competed. Not many kids would do that. She was just tough physically and mentally. And just a pleasure to coach. No one was going to outwork her.”

Those characteristics carried over to her time as the head coach at University of Miami of Florida. Deem took over a program on hard times in 1990 and turned it into one of the best in the country.

During Miami’s time in the Big East, the leader dominated the Coach Staff of the Year Award, winning it seven times in nine seasons. The Hurricanes’ dominance continued when they made the jump to the ACC in 2005.

Prior to the 2013 track and field season, Deem helped guide the women’s track and field team to one of the most dominating performances in USA Olympic track and field history. The team won 14 medals, including six gold, four silver and four bronze. Overall, she was part of Team USA who won more medals and gold medals than any other nation at the Games. Three of her former athletes – Murielle Ahoure, T’erea Brown and Lauryn Williams – competed in the Games. Ahoure (100m, 200m) and Brown (400m hurdles) reached the finals of their events, while Williams earned gold as part of the 4x100m relay pool.

“Amy just had the characteristics of a coach,” said Gardner. “She was mature beyond her years and anybody that had ever been around her or worked with her could tell you it is no surprise she has been as successful as she has been because she possessed those those types of characteristics and there was nothing impossible for her.”

One doesn’t have to look hard to see why the PHS Sports Hall of Fame selection committee tabbed Deem as an honoree.

This stands as the third time Deem was elected into a hall of fame. She was voted into the University of Miami’s in 2006, and is part of the Class of 2017 for the United State Track and Field and Cross Country Association.

“I have no idea what the selection criteria was,” said Deem. “I was solid high school athlete and my career really took off after that as a coach… I am very honored my body of work has warranted this honor.

“I was very surprised and then to be honored with not only Nick but with my coach that is kind of overwhelming and humbling at the same time.”

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