Honor his legacy. Support his passion. uscb community to honor retiring coach kimball with lk5k race


A wry grin stretches across Larry Kimball’s face, and his eyes glimmer.

“You know how much it cost to run Boston my first time?,” he asks. “Two dollars!”

That was in 1967, and an 18-year-old Kimball finished in just under 3 1/2 hours – four days after running 26.1 miles in 3:15, “because my coach wanted to make sure I could cover the distance.”

That was the first of more than 40 career marathons for Kimball – the most recent one in Virginia Beach in 2007 – and the first of his nine pilgrimages to Boston.

Kimball’s coaching career has been just as impressive, spanning nearly five decades – and numerous sports. He will retire from coaching full time on June 30, stepping down as USCB’s head cross country and assistant track & field coach, but his influence and legacy will continue. Kimball will remain involved with the program in an advisory role and lead fundraising efforts to bring a track & field complex to campus. To honor his legacy and support those fundraising efforts USCB has created the Larry Kimball 5K (LK5K) presented by Mortgage Network. The inaugural race will be held April 2 on USCB’s Hilton Head Gateway Campus in Bluffton.

“I’ve never worked with a coach who was as passionate about their sport and about getting their sport out to everybody than Larry Kimball,” USCB Director of Athletics Quin Monahan said. “Larry is absolutely dedicated to that, so what better way to honor Larry than establishing the LK5K?”

Kimball, right, in the 1978 Grand Isle Marathon


Kimball’s love of running began early. He recalls attending a University of Vermont cross country meet with his father at age 2 and catching the bus to watch the Catamounts race numerous times throughout his childhood.

But it was Boston that spurred his obsession with distance.

The seed was planted as a child listening to Boston Red Sox games on WBZ radio on Patriot’s Day, when traffic reporter Joe Green would break in with marathon updates from the “Green Machine” traffic helicopter. The next day, Kimball would run out to buy all the Boston newspapers – the Globe, Herald, and Record American — and devour all the race coverage.

Kimball rattles off decades-old Boston Marathon facts with easy confidence, and there’s no need to fact-check him – he is a walking encyclopedia of New England sports trivia and all things Vermont, a running joke among virtually everyone who knows him.

His love for his home state goes both ways. Kimball was inducted into the Run Vermont Hall of Fame in 2010, an honor earned through his achievements not only as a runner and a coach, but also as a race organizer.

Kimball was an accomplished runner, boasting an impressive personal-best of 2 hours, 35 minutes in the 1979 Boston Marathon following a successful collegiate career at Carson-Newman College in Tennessee, but his contributions to the sport stretch far beyond his running prowess.


Kimball was fresh out of the Army National Guard in 1970 when he was offered his first coaching job, a volunteer assistant position at Burlington (Vt.) High School, launching a career he never saw coming. Kimball coached high school and college basketball, was a soccer referee, and coached track and cross country runners at various high schools as well as the University of Vermont and St. Michael’s College.

His coaching accomplishments are impressive. His cross country teams at Burlington High School and Bellows Free Academy Fairfax won state championships, and he coached three national qualifiers at Vermont and seven NAIA All-Americans and 98 All-Sun Conference performers (so far) at USCB. He was voted the Sun Conference Women’s Track & Field Coach of the Year in 2013. When asked about his legacy, though, Kimball doesn’t mention any of those accolades.

“The kids,” Kimball says, misty-eyed. “Making sure they’re successful and have a good experience and go off into the world and be good citizens.”

He has an impressive track record on that front, too. Five of Kimball’s student-athletes at USCB have been named the Sun Conference Champions of Character Award winner for their respective sports, and more than 90 percent of student-athletes who have spent at least 1 1/2 years in his programs have graduated. Kimball hasn’t missed a graduation ceremony during his tenure at USCB.

“He made it feel like it was home here, even though I’m far from home,” said USCB senior Jaime Thomas, a fellow Vermont native. “His care for your well-being is always his No. 1 priority, especially with his athletes, but really with everyone he knows.”

When Betsy Douglas, now a three-time NAIA All-American for the Sand Sharks, was looking for a school where she could run and get a nursing degree, it took only one meeting with Kimball to know she had found the right fit. In retrospect, she doesn’t think she could have balanced such a demanding schedule without such a supportive coach.

“I just love him as a human; he’s someone I admire and I want to be like,” Douglas said. “He really does mean the world to me. My life is 1,000 times better because of him. Just getting to be a part of it before he retires means a lot to me.”


When Kimball moved to the Lowcountry in 2006, he planned to “play golf and retire,” but he couldn’t kick the coaching bug.

Within a couple of months, Kimball had introduced himself to Kim Abbott, then the director of athletics development at USCB charged with launching the school’s athletics program, and helped organize a road race as a fundraiser for the fledgling program.

A few days after the race, Abbott offered Kimball a job as her assistant director of athletics development and charged him with starting the cross country program.

“I’d hoped something might come of it, even though I didn’t have a plan for it,” Kimball said. “It just kind of happened.”

From that point forward, Kimball helped Abbott build USCB’s athletics department from the ground up, from selecting a mascot, association, and conference, to coaching the 7-v-7 co-ed soccer team in the Hilton Head recreation league and everything between.

“He’s a Sand Shark through and through,” USCB Director of Athletics Quin Monahan said. “Larry has been pretty synonymous with USCB Athletics, and he’s created quite a legacy for himself.”

Kimball’s reputation precedes him, and his list of contacts within the running world seemingly is endless. Thomas made her way south to USCB because of her own connection to Kimball, who coached her middle school coach in college, and has seen first-hand the respect Kimball commands from his coaching counterparts.

“All coaches from every sport from a lot of different schools know who he is,” Thomas said. “I’m sure that it’s not only going to be hard for people at this school, but it’s going to be hard to not see him at races for people at others schools, as well, because he’s that well-known to everybody.”


When Kimball announced his retirement, the USCB community immediately knew it was an occasion that called for something special.

The LK5K was the obvious tribute. That it would also help kickstart the fundraising efforts Kimball will head up after his retirement made the event doubly meaningful.

“Larry has said to me many times that he’s not leaving until we build a track on campus, and I think he’s pretty serious,” Monahan joked. “With that in mind, we thought, well, if we are ever going to get rid of Larry, we better build a track. The sooner we build a track, the sooner he can move fully into retirement.”

With the help of Rob Fyfe at Palmetto Running Company, the USCB athletics staff organized the details of the race without Kimball’s knowledge and invited numerous friends, family members, and alumni to a surprise reveal on campus. As soon as the group dispersed, Kimball went to work routing a 5K course on campus and inviting practically everyone who has crossed his circuitous path over the years.

“I hope we get a large number of alumni in for the race,” Kimball said. “And I hope we get the word out that we’re very serious about getting off on the right track for building a track & field complex on campus.”

Three weeks after the LK5K, Kimball and head track & field coach Bernard Gaither – his hand-picked successor who served as a volunteer assistant for four years under Kimball – will head to Miramar, Fla., with realistic hopes of a Sun Conference championship. A month later, the NAIA National Championships in Gulf Shores, Ala.

And then?

Just like when he retired from Verizon in 2003, then moved south to kick up his feet three years later, Kimball knows himself well enough to know he won’t go quietly into the next phase of his life.

“I don’t think it’s the final chapter. I don’t want to say I’m going off into the sunset, because I want to continue to do other things,” Kimball says, citing his desire to continue working with USA Track & Field and coaching local runners. “I always say I left my ego at the door years ago, so whatever I do, it will be for the love of the sport.”

Created By
Justin Jarrett

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