Tim Pelan has been the Hoquiam High School track coach for 12 years. A 1986 Hoquiam graduate, Pelan teaches U.S. and World History and is also an assistant football coach at his alma mater. He and his wife, Pam, have two children, Tim, Jr., 18, and Emilee, 14.
While you had competitive experience in age-group track, you played high school baseball at Hoquiam. What figured in that decision and what brought you back to track?
When I was growing up, we had a competitive track team called the Grays Harbor Greyhounds. I competed for them during the summer from seventh through 11th grade. When I entered high school, I chose baseball in the spring, thinking I had a greater chance of competing in college playing baseball.
As it turned out, I ended up playing football at Willamette University. The Greyhounds gave me the opportunity to pursue my passion, which is track. I traveled all over Washington and Oregon competing in numerous meets.
Your track teams have traditionally had exceptionally good turnout numbers. Given the presence of several other high-profile spring sports, what have you done to sell track at Hoquiam?
Our track numbers have historically been higher than most sports. I try to promote a fun and competitive atmosphere.
One of my major beliefs is that success breeds success. In track, every athlete competes at the varsity level and I let kids know that they are important to our team regardless of their ability.
You and your staff have the reputation of not only turning out competitive teams but also making the sport enjoyable for the athletes. What have you done to promote the latter atmosphere?
This has been one of my major hurdles. Spring can be a miserable time to be outside.
Over the years, I have created different practices to keep things fun. During March, I take our team to the YMCA for swimming practices. It is a great change of pace.
We also have “game days” in the gym and occasional team dinners. Keeping practices short and efficient also helps keep the kids motivated.
What coaches have been the greatest influence on you?
Throughout my playing and coaching careers, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many great coaches. The one coach that had the most influence on me was former Hoquiam head baseball coach (and current Aberdeen assistant) Lem Elway.
During my high school career, Lem taught me to not only be competitive but to be mentally tough. That’s the one attribute that a lot of kids today lack.
The other coach that has taught me a lot and I admire is my longtime assistant Phil MacNealy. Phil has been around coaching track since I competed in middle school. He is a wealth of information and a person that I trust.
Your son, Tim Jr., is one of your top athletes. What are the advantages and disadvantages of coaching your son?
When it comes to coaching your own child, there are definitely many pros and cons. I’ve had the pleasure of coaching my son for four years in football and track.
What I have done in track over the years is when Tim needs specific instructions, I usually have my assistant Phil deal with him first. This avoids the issue of dad being overbearing.
If there was one thing you could change about high school track, what would it be?
The one thing I would change about high school track, if possible, is the perception of the sport. Many people, especially parents, get caught up in the sports in which youth coaches promise kids scholarships and success.
Track is a sport that helps you become more athletic. I wish more kids would try it in middle school.