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Hecker Takes Over Head Coach Position for Track
Written by Ernie Quatrani Correspondent
2015-03-11

Upper Perk high school sprinters race around the parking lot at the school Monday afternoon getting ready for the upcoming season under new head coach Byron Hecker.

                Byron Hecker closed the door on his careers as an educator and track coach last spring when he retired from his job as an industrial tech teacher at Upper Perk. So he thought.

                When spring track season began last week, there was Hecker, now head coach Hecker, beginning his 19th year as an Upper Perk track coach.

                "I retired from coaching after the 2014 season, because I knew that I was going to retire from teaching. The plan was that my wife would also retire in March of 2015 and we would travel. She changed her mind and decided to work for another year or so. That left me with a little free time on my hands," Hecker explained.

                Hecker had already declined to take the track job when Upper Perk Athletic Director Steve Perlstein called over the winter. But about a week before the season started, Perlstein called again, and Hecker relented.

                A familiar face around Upper Perk since his teaching debut in 1996, Hecker has worked as an assistant under several Tribe track coaches, including Todd Niemann, whom he is replacing.

                Hecker also spent 13 years as Upper Perk's winter track coach.

                Track has been an integral part of Hecker's life since high school. He was primarily a sprinter at North Penn and Grove City College, but he also did hurdles, threw the shot put, discus and javelin, and long jumped.

                "As an adult I competed up until I was 50 or so. I ran for the Philadelphia Masters track club and also ran unattached in AAU meets during the summer," Hecker related.

                He also coached at Upper Dublin before making his love of track a family affair.

                "I coached my son Brian and several of his friends in the shot put, discus and javelin."   Brian competed  in the Junior Olympics when he was 14.

                In Hecker's view, the real value of track and field is that it prepares the participants for life in a way that the classroom cannot.

                "Just like other sports, it teaches teamwork and demands self-sacrifice in order to obtain success. That self-sacrifice might be overcoming minor pain and discomfort through developing self-discipline to push yourself beyond what you have previously achieved. It might be by expending yourself in order to win." 

                The veteran coach also pointed out that a track athlete learns about taking ownership for his or her performance.

                "If you are successful, you can take the credit. If you fail, you have nobody to blame but yourself. I believe that that helps to build maturity in a person."

                Hecker knows all about the ups and downs of life having served in the military as an Air Force pilot, working briefly as a police officer, and teaching at Upper Dublin before becoming an hydraulic system designer for Asplundh Manufacturing.

                There he designed "aerial devices and equipment for the tree service industry.  I also performed field design modifications and accident investigations."

                Ever on the move, Hecker started his own woodworking business in 1983. He ran Hecker Woodworking for 13 years before tiring of it and returning to teaching.

                "After I retired from Upper Perk I reopened Hecker Woodworking. My desire is to work three days a week or so as a semi-retired cabinetmaker. So far, so good."

                Assistant coaches Dave Dusza, distance runners, and Steve Keyser, sprinters and hurdlers, will be helping Hecker. Dusza ran at Souderton and in college and student taught at Upper Perk last fall. Keyser is a veteran coach at Upper Perk who has also helped with the winter program.

                Perlstein would like to designate separate head coaches for the boys and girls teams, but, so far, Hecker is overseeing both.


 

 

 

 

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