ENOW – Barry Olhausen
With another Tomato 5K in the books for East Nasty, we thought it would be appropriate to introduce and thank one of our favorite Potato to Tomato (P2T) coaches and East Nasty of the Week, Barry Olhausen!
Barry was born at Smythe’s Clinic in Tiptonville, Tennessee in Lake County which ironically later became the funeral home. His hometown is Ridgely in Lake County, and he still has a house there. Other than college, Barry spent his first 52-years in Ridgely. The county just celebrated getting its first red light, and before you ask, yes he pretty much does know everybody there.!
In middle and high school Barry was not necessarily known for his athletic achievements. Just after running his first Country Music Half-Marathon in 2015, he and high school classmates went on a reunion trip to Chicago. As Barry sported his commemorative tech shirt, the running joke (get it!?!) was, who would have thought that 45-years after graduation Barry would turn out to be “Most Athletic”. Truth be told, back then, and pretty much now, he was more of the club-joining, after-school-job, Sunday-school-attending, book-reading, friend-reliant type.
The University of Tennessee at Martin is Barry’s alma mater which were Vols when he started then became the Pacers before his graduation and now are the Skyhawks. Not surprisingly, his roommate is a lifelong best friend (it happens to all of us who become his friend). When asked about his college experience, Barry said, “It was a humbling experience to learn that I wasn’t nearly as smart or as well-adjusted or as sure of the world as I assumed myself to be. I learned that beer tasted pretty good, that it was pretty helpful to actually attend class, that the world is vast, diverse, and complex, and that even away from home people are generally pretty nice. “ Some great teachers challenged his thinking and helped to his next step in professional life.
A public educator for decades (Barry is old if you haven’t figured it out yet), he considers education it to be the noblest profession. We agree! Currently he works for the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS) as Assistant Executive Director. Prior to this he taught middle grades, was a district administrator and then, Director of Schools in Lake County and later served as the Executive Director of Instructional Leadership for the Tennessee Department of Education. It is Barry’s honor and pleasure everyday to interact with and be inspired by school leaders across the state.
Barry’s love for running started because he was trying to be like the cool, young, skinny kids at work. About 5-years ago, around the age of 59, he signed up for Mayor Dean’s 5k challenge (his group coached by Nashville Running Company’s, Lee Wilson). Later, he tried the C25K Tom King training through NRC (coach, Mike Clark), followed by the East Nasty C25K (coach, Juanita Taylor). He realized that were it not for such superstar coaches and finding a group of people to enjoy running with, he would have never stayed with it. You hear that, East Nasty, it’s you who make running so awesome!!!
Without a doubt, Barry’s biggest accomplishment in running happened 3- years ago when he was asked to coach in the East Nasty P2T training. Making it up Mt. Nasty the first time was an awesome achievement and finishing a half marathon in 2015 was a thrill, but nothing has given him more satisfaction than working with other fledgling and new runners. He will tell you that he gets far more out of it than the participants do, but scores of East Nasty, Lasty Nasty, and Happy Running People runners know the real truth – Barry is a great friend, extremely patient, has a generous smile and soul, and encouraging and showing up for others is his super power.
Barry learned of East Nasty about 5-years ago through those young, skinny, very fast friends at work and immediately assumed there was no way on God’s green earth that he would ever, EVER be a part of such a group. It never even entered his consciousness. But today Barry happily reports that of the many groups he’s been a part of (professionally or recreationally), East Nasty is the most nurturing and supportive. It’s like his very own personal version of “Cheers” – where everyone knows your name and you always feel better after being there.
So raise a glass and cheers to you, Barry, our ENOW!!