Here in our corner of the world, we marvel at the efficiency of one of our own, Randy Sharer. His desk provides clues as to why.
Reference books, notebooks and an aging but invaluable “Little Gold Book” — used for metric conversions to feet and inches — are neatly bound by bookends.
On the opposite side, a two-tiered metal tray is filled with stat sheets, past results and/or details of upcoming events. Tucked behind the tray are school records provided by area coaches. Some are older than others, but if needed, they are within arm’s length.
Everything has its place.
Walk by and you think, “I wish I was that organized.” Walk by at the right time — that is, when the desk drawers are open — and you realize, “I’ll NEVER be that organized.”
The middle drawer contains past rosters published in The Pantagraph for a variety of sports, each set neatly trimmed and held together by a large paper clip. Among those on top are “1993 football” and “Boys basketball 1988-89.” Should the need arise to see who played guard at Olympia in 1989, info is at the fingertips.
The bottom drawer is filled with files for every sport you can name, separated by tabs such as Cross Country, Intercity soccer, Intercity previews, Football, State Track, Track Honor Roll, Wrestling, Yearbooks, Media Guides, College Track, Softball, etc.
All of this explains the existence of not only a Pantagraph Track Honor Roll each season, but an All-Time Track Honor Roll for boys and girls that is continually updated. All-time area records for swimming (again, boys and girls) also exist because of these next-level organizational skills.
Now, they have produced a book.
It wasn’t easy, mind you, even for someone who in seconds could provide you with the area’s fastest 800-meter time in 1992.
Randy is our go-to reporter for boys and girls cross country, volleyball, boys soccer, girls swimming and Illinois State volleyball in the fall; for Illinois Wesleyan women’s basketball, wrestling, girls basketball and boys swimming in the winter; and for boys and girls track, girls soccer and college track in the spring. He also covers cycling, road races and a myriad other sports throughout the year.
Somewhere in all of that, he found time to write the biography of Craig Virgin, an Illinois native who became a two-time world cross country champion and three-time Olympian.
A Lebanon High School and University of Illinois star in the 1970s, Virgin became the gold standard for distance running in our state and beyond. The 322-page book titled “Virgin Territory: The Story of Craig Virgin, America’s Renaissance Runner” is available in hardcover ($28), softcover ($18) and e-book ($9.99) versions at craigvirginbook.com.
The book was more than eight years in the making, a result of Virgin’s busy schedule and the full load Randy handles here. It did not happen overnight, but that it happened at all is testament to organization, dedication, time management and a deep-rooted love for running.
You see, the author was a runner as well, placing seventh in the 1977 Class A state track meet mile run for Prophetstown High School. He also was a four-year distance runner at Illinois Wesleyan before joining The Pantagraph in 1981.
So yes, this was a labor of love. It was labor nonetheless.
Granted, others have written books while holding down full-time jobs. Yet, in this department we understand how full Randy’s job is and how adept he is at navigating it. We see it every day.
The desk tells you a bit about how he does it. The book is evidence as well, and judging from excerpts it is, like subject and author, a winner.