FORT MYERS, Fla. — At first glance, it may seem like an empty track at Dunbar High School.
But in the background, practice goes on. And right now, it has to, as its team rallies behind one of their own.
“He’s helping raise a generation of kids here in Fort Myers and he’s just a real positive to the whole community.”
A community hoping beyond hope for the return of its beloved high school track coach. Guy Thomas, the head coach of Dunbar High School Track, is in critical condition after contracting Covid-19. His absence from the track has not only been felt by his student athletes, but by those within the community as well.
“He’s a dad to all of his athletes and the community needs men like Coach Guy Thomas,” says John Rinkenbaugh, owner of Run Florida on McGregor.
For Rinkenbaugh and many runners throughout Fort Myers, the running community is pretty tight knit. The local running shoe store is used to seeing avid runners walk in and out its doors. Runners like Coach Thomas.
“Because of him and some of the other coaches at Dunbar, I really felt compelled to support their program because Dunbar doesn’t get as much love as some of the other high schools in the community as much as it should," said Rinkenbaugh. "It’s a great community high school and Coach Thomas has done a lot to build that program and that school and its reputation.”
It’s that close knit feeling that is bringing the running community together, standing behind Thomas as he battles Covid-19. To really understand the impact Thomas has had at Dunbar, all you have to do is look at its team.
“Coach Thomas had two of the top hurdlers in the United States on the program and they’re both going to Division 1 programs- Division 1 program North Carolina A&T that is one of the tops in the country," Rinkenbaugh said. "To have two athletes do that in the course of one season, it’s pretty amazing.”
While those around Coach Thomas continue to pray and hope for the best, they simply want one thing. And that’s to see their local coach back on the track.
“I know a lot of us are praying for him and are hoping for a great outcome for him and his family.”