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Llano coach Steve Golemon impacted thousands of lives over five decades

Llano coach Steve Goleman

Llano High School head cross-country and distance running coach Steve Golemon, 77, lived by many sayings, including 'Enjoy the run, enjoy the day, for no one is guaranteed more than presently exists.' Golemon died Oct. 19, 2021. Courtesy photo

Llano High School head cross-country and distance running coach Steve Golemon lived his life doing what he loved, even coaching his teams at the district meet a little more than a week before his unexpected death.

Golemon, 77, died Tuesday, Oct. 19, just eight days after the Lady Jackets cross-country team won the District 25-3A championship and the boys’ squad finished third. Both teams advanced to the Class 3A Region IV meet.

During his more than five decades of coaching, Golemon led a number of students to state titles and impacted the lives of thousands of young people.

“I don’t know how we’ll ever figure it all out,” said Matt Green, Llano Independent School District athletics director, regarding the number of Golemon’s individual state champions. “There’s a saying that a coach impacts more kids in a year than most will in a lifetime. Impact – he got to have that. We’re all sad because he’s gone, but he left a huge impact on our kids.”

The Texas Girls Coaches Association named Golemon its 2020-21 Subvarsity Coach of the Year. During the course of his career, he guided six teams to state championships, including the 2000 Lady Jackets cross-country team.

Golemon previously coached at Llano High School from 1992-2005, and Green enticed him back in the summer 2018. His other coaching and teaching stops included Woodsboro, Giddings, Georgetown, and Bandera, where his teams won four state titles.

“He’d forgotten more than most coaches will ever know,” said assistant cross-country coach Casey Kendrick. “He and Myra (Golemon’s wife) love Llano. They love their church family here. They felt welcomed here. They enjoyed spending their time doing cross-country meets here.”

Kendrick said she spent many happy hours with Golemon, including working the concession stand with him for the Llano High School volleyball matches. Their conversations have helped shape her as a coach.

“He knew how to push your limits,” added Kendrick, a 1997 Llano graduate. “And then, when he got you to your limits, he pushed you past them. It was about his students. He always cared about every person he came in touch with. He saw so much potential in people they never saw in themselves.”

Llano cross-country runners
The 2021 Llano High School cross-country runners and assistant coach Casey Kendrick (kneeling, left), Gorge Godinez, Eli Jordan, Chris Utley, Keegan Bush, Gwyn Burnett, Maddie Morrison, Tori Rusche; Russell Nelson (standing, left), Aiden Guido, Jackson Turner, Isaiah Bush, Briley Crow, Loralee Downey, Ciara Hays, and Catalina Isbell pose in front of a sign with one of head coach Steve Golemon’s favorite sayings. Courtesy photo

Green and Golemon had talked throughout the week after the district meet as the cross-country coach was making hotel and meal reservations in Corpus Christi, the site of the regional contest. Green said Golemon presented him with a detailed itinerary of what the runners would be doing, how they were preparing, what time they’d board buses, where they would eat their meals, and other activities.

“He was giddy,” Green said. “He was excited and working with me to set plans to go. They were raring to go. He was really feeling good.”

On Oct. 16, things changed. Golemon was airlifted to a hospital for a health emergency. Green, who rushed to the Golemons’ home Oct. 16 as soon as he received the call, met with the high school runners the morning of Oct. 18 to inform them “the outlook was bleak.” 

The longtime educator passed away a few days later. 

His funeral is 10 a.m. Oct. 30 at Riverside Church of Christ, 625 Harper Road in Kerrville. Donations may be made to Arms of Hope, a nonprofit dedicated to transforming “the lives of disadvantaged children,” at 21300 Texas 16 North in Medina. A celebration of life will take place at the Llano High School stadium on a date to be announced.

Kendrick and coach Barb Burnett, who splits her time coaching at Llano junior high and high school, will lead the cross-country teams until their seasons end.

Despite the loss of their head coach, the runners turned to one of Golemon’s sayings, “Will it to happen,” for comfort and motivation. The saying and a patch in his honor will adorn their jerseys.

That spoke of the students’ character and commitment as they continue to prepare for the regional meet, Green said.

“They’re highly motivated to run for their coach,” he said. “They’re going to perform well. They’re well trained. They’re going to run their guts out for coach Golemon.”

Looking back at Golemon’s career, Green offered this assessment.

“He got to live the dream. I think he coached 52 years,” the LISD athletics director said. “That’s remarkable.”