It was a startling goodbye for family and friends of Indiana State University track and field, and cross country coach John McNichols.
But living a life filled with love and harmony, it’s a goodbye that leaves the community inspired to be their best.
At today’s celebration of life at the Hulman Center, we heard from so many today who loved John McNichols. There’s no question that he coached as hard as he loved and that he’s now among fellow legends.
So many great things were said about McNichols, that we hear from those who knew him best.
“I still think back in awe of the great powers he possessed, but really there was no greater power than the way he loved.
I can’t tell you how many times his advice to me about difficulties with others was simply just love them to death, if they aren’t going to do what you want, love them more, of course this is why we’re all here today,” son, Matt McNichols said.
“We all gave running a shot, probably because we wanted to make him proud.
I was slow and awkward, didn’t have the right build, and I hated every single second of it, and I could tell he knew I was horrible, but he encouraged me to keep trying of course.
A couple of years ago I actually decided that I liked running, I took it up again and I was running in the crossroads half and dad showed up to support me, as I ran by, I waved at him, I smiled real big, gave him a thumbs up, I was so proud of him, so proud that he’s my dad. So proud to have his support because he was always there,” daughter, Rachael McNichols said.
“Even though he’s not here with us, I’m going to do my best to be daddy’s little girl and in any situation, I’m going to stop and think, how would John McNichols respond,” daughter, Janie Szabo said.
“It’s going to work its way out as grandpa would say, he lives on in his teachings, his family, his friends, so he’s not gone, he’s just somewhere else right now, and we’ll see him soon enough,” grandson, John Gabriel McNichols said.
“I wish i could sit with him and reminisce, I wish I could help him walk as an old man, I wish i could’ve caught him as he fell.
Godspeed dad, I assume you’re in line at the pearly gates with Muhammad Ali, David Bowie and Princess Leia, I never would have imagined it, but now we know, you are a legend,” Matt McNichols said.
We also heard from McNichols’ siblings and friends today, everyone had only great things to say about this man and how he revolutionized Terre Haute into a Cross Country community. Now his children are inspired to leave behind the same legacy in honor of their father, his oldest, Matt, says he plans to open an indoor soccer facility for Terre Haute.
Donations can be made to the Indiana State University Foundation, John McNichols fund. Donations will support future student athletes at ISU.