Dan O'Brien

, Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Tue, July 31 2012 at 4:30 PM, Updated: Tue, July 31 2012 at 4:45 PM

People in Klamath Falls are having plenty of Olympic memories this summer about gold medalist Dan O'Brien, including one of O'Brien's former coaches...

Former Henley High Football coach Lee Schroder says he hasn't had too many players wind up on a 'Wheaties' box...

"He's the only one - (laughs) - Dan's the only one that made a Wheaties box."

Schroder says that O'Brien didn't give too many hints of greatness early on...

"I first met Dan when he was just a skinny little insignificant kid wandering around the halls in Henley.  You'd never guess what he was going to turn out to be."

Schroder notes that O'Brien really developed between his junior year in 1983, and his senior year in 1984 - when O'Brien became a football standout...

"Dan had so much more speed than most of the people that were trying to defend him that it wasn't really a contest."

Schroder adds that O'Brien also faced some challenges.  "Dan was the kind of guy, you'd have to kick him in the butt about six times a day, but he would respond to that.  He wouldn't hang his head and pout, he'd say, 'Okay, Coach' - and we'll get it done."

O'Brien now passes along that message of hard work.  "When I get a chance to go out and talk to kids, my message to them is, that we can do anything."

Schroder notes that O'Brien earned his respect long before earning a gold medal.  "I was very, very impressed with his victory, and also his three world championships."

O'Brien is now a track and field coach at Arizona State University.

Coach Schroder credits Henley art teacher Larry Hunt and track coach Ron Smith with helping to spark O'Brien's interest in the decathlon.

O'Brien released a book last month, titled:  'Clearing Hurdles - The Quest to be the World's Greatest Athlete.'

About the Author

Lyle Ahrens

KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's.  He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.

Lyle's job history is quite colorful.  He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand.  A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer.  In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.

Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience.  "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain.  Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".

When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.

Leave a Comment:

Note: Comments with profanity are automatically filtered and hidden. Verbal attacks towards others via our comments section will not be tolerated.