Blueprint for success: Fairmont’s Bob Bonk

Blueprint for success: Fairmont’s Bob Bonk

FAIRMONT, Minn. (KEYC) — Sports may be on pause for now, but Sports Director Rob Clark is catching up with some of the area’s most successful coaches to talk about what it takes to build a positive culture.

This week, we take a look at Fairmont’s cross country and track and field head coach, Bob Bonk.

Bob Bonk has coached for nearly 50 years.

In his time at Fairmont, Bonk helped coach the Cardinals to numerous state titles, but those championships aren’t necessarily what Bonk judges as a good season.

“I think the thing that strikes people that they would think is most important, we’ve won 11 state championships and been to state many times in both sports, but something I get a thrill out of is setting personal bests. We keep very close records of once a student starts in 7th grade of a personal best in every event. We acknowledge that. The day after a meet, we might have 90 personal bests for the meet before, and we have them all stand up, clap for them and say what it is,” said Bonk.

While track and field is made up of a bunch of individual events, the Cardinals preach ‘we’ before ‘me’.

“We do try to emphasize a little bit is that we’re all in this together. Whether you’re the first person or 71st person on the team, a good effort is expected in practice because that makes such a difference. We don’t have a tent because I want people at meets to be involved in the meet even when they aren’t competing. We try to think of others as well as ourselves in the sports. That ability to do that is important in life,” said Bonk.

The other big takeaway is delayed gratification.

“I think so often in our world where everything is at your fingertips and so quick, I think it’s hard to work your buns off in some cases all summer to be successful in October or something like that. I would say the late gratification piece, and that helps them when they go into careers, relationships, college. To be able to know what you do today might not help you today, but it might 6 weeks from today, or two years from today. That’s something I think everyone gets out of the program,” said Bonk.

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