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It’s been said you should never follow a legend. You’re better off being the person who follows the person who followed the legend.
But what if you’re kind of a legend yourself when you take the reins from the previous legend?
Such is the case in Cascade.
It was announced earlier this month Phil Kauder would replace Bob Davidshofer as the high school boys’ and girls’ cross country coach at Cascade High School.
Davidshofer was synonymous with Cascade cross country for more than 50 years, coaching the boys’ team to six state titles (three at Aquin) and the girls to nine championships.
“How many people can say they won state titles in five different decades?” Kauder said in a Gazette story on Davidshofer’s retirement. “There were a lot of kids that would have run to the end of the world and back for Coach.”
Count Kauder among those.
Kauder may be the brightest star among Davidshofer’s many pupils. A 1979 graduate, Kauder ran in four state cross country meets (as a freshman at Aquin), placing seventh and ninth, respectively, as a junior and senior.
He went on to an All-American and Hall of Fame career at Loras College, placing fourth and third, respectively, in the NAIA indoor 3-mile run in 1983 and ’84. When he graduated from Loras, he owned school records in the three events, including the marathon (2 hours, 35 minutes, 41 seconds). His personal best in the mile, three mile, 3,000 steeplechase, 1,500, 3,000, 5,000, 10,000 and marathon still rank among the best in Loras history.
He later was a constant contender in local and regional road races and, upon turning 40, ran state record times in the 10-mile, 20K, half marathon and marathon.
Legendary stuff in the world of running and road racing.
He’s also a proud “born and raised” member of the Cascade community. One of 10 children, the Kauder name carries some weight in Dubuque County.
And who better to take over for “Coach” than one of his finest students.
“If anybody knows his system and what works ... it’s me,” Kauder said. “I always understood him.
“But how can you ever measure up to Bob?”
Throughout our conversation, Kauder rarely mentioned Davidshofer’s name. He was simply “coach.”
“That’s what everybody calls him,” Kauder said.
Now 60, Kauder isn’t just an outstanding runner. He’s also got an impressive coaching resume that includes stops at Anamosa — where he was regional girls’ track and field coach of the year in 2013 — and, of course, Cascade. He’s worn many hats at Aquin and the high school and still is coaching basketball and serves as volunteer athletics director at Aquin.
He’s looking forward to coaching kids he’s watched grow up in town, at Aquin and at Fillmore Fairways Golf Course, where he’s worked on the “outside crew” since retiring as director of activities at the Anamosa State Penitentiary.
“I feel really comfortable with the kids coming in,” Kauder said. “Working with kids who want to run is fun for me.
“I just hope my enthusiasm doesn’t scare the kids. I hope I’m a familiar face to them.”
Davidshofer was known for his high-mileage workouts and Kauder himself famously ran around 3,000 miles a year while at Loras. But Kauder knows times have changed and, through his own experiences, knows runners need to listen to their bodies.
“The kids need to run,” Kauder said, but he will emphasis “reasonable training (with) reasonable increases” in mileage.
And, “if something’s not right, you have to speak up.”
In the past, some runners “didn’t want to tell ‘Coach’ (when hurting) because they thought they’d let him down,” Kauder said. “The kids that ran for him thought they were indestructible.”
That will change, but one thing that won’t is the simple uniforms. Kauder made sure to mention that — the outline of Iowa in the middle of the shirt and the geographically correct star representing Cascade with CASCADE CROSS COUNTRY above and below — is here to stay.
“This history and the background ... it does mean something to me,” he said.
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