Familiar face at Meet of Champs
As he does on the track by serving as an official, Halpern remains active in the classroom by working as a substitute teacher. Events such as today’s meet are especially enjoyable.
He said he remembers not only the names of all the athletes he’s coached but also the years they ran for him. Runners he’s coached — as well as plenty he coached against — stop to greet him at meets. Some introduce him to their own children who are now running track.
One of his fondest coaching memories is of a 1990 class L track meet held at Londonderry High. Halpern’s team trailed until the final event, the 400-meter relay, in which the Londonderry anchor came from behind to win the race and give the Lancers the title by a half-point. People in the stands jumped out of their seats, and officials used a video to verify the finish because the entire meet hinged on the outcome of that race, Halpern recalled.
In his role as starter, Halpern is focused on making sure every runner gets a fair start and keeping the meet moving. But he still takes time to alleviate jitters at the starting line with a comment or a joke.
Skills obtained in the sport benefit runners far beyond the track, Halpern said.
“In track, to be good as an athlete you’ve got to motivate yourself,” he said. “If you don’t, you’re not going to succeed.”
“I get the best seat in the house,” he said.