MAPLE CITY — Back in the late 1960s when Greenville High School didn’t have a track, Paul Christiansen ran track for the Yellow Jackets.
“The current high school, they didn’t have a track so we ran around the parking lot,” Christiansen said.
But his love of track continues until this day. He was rewarded with induction into the Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Christiansen has been a track coach at Maple City Glen Lake for 36 years. His teams have been pretty good, as his girls and boys teams have combined for six state championships.
“I’m just really lucky to be at the right place,” Christiansen said.
Christiansen remembered some of the early years of track at Greenville.
“We didn’t have a track so every meet was an away meet,” he said. “Back then we didn’t have very many meets. At most you would have two. It’s different now. I think a lot back then you did something else but added track. I had a real nice experience in high school sports.”
After he graduated, Christiansen spent three years as the manager of the Michigan State men’s basketball team, and that got him the coaching bug. After his graduation from MSU, he interviewed as a teacher at Glen Lake.
“Back then, teachers, part of your interview was ‘you’re going to be a teacher and what?’” he said. “They don’t do that now. That was expected back then. The interview was two-thirds what I was going to teach and one-third was what was I was going to coach.”
He’s coached various sports at Glen Lake, spending most of that time as both track coach and basketball coach. Christiansen is also a member of the Basketball Coaches of Michigan Hall of Honor, which is the Hall of Fame for assistant coaches.
“I did 25 years of JV and middle school basketball,” he said.
But he loves track.
“I was lucky enough to be the coach when we won it (a state championship) in 2002,” he said. “We had a lot of talent and it all came together at the state finals. Equally as strong to me was I was able to coach all three of my daughters at a state championship. Two of them was in track and my youngest daughter was in golf.”
Christiansen is coming back for a 37th season this spring. Will he continue after that?
“When I started I started a plan that in every spring I would look at the year and evaluate whether I wanted to keep doing it,” he said. “I really take it year-by-year. When I rejoined the track group, I joined as a retiree. 37 years later I’m still hanging in there. I just really enjoy it. Being around kids, they give you some enthusiasm that it just rubs off.”