Rohe Track Era All About Us!


 

Mike Juras:

Mike Juras was a middle distance runner at UT in 1966 and 1967. He ran on the mile relay team and earned a varsity letter before a serious hamstring injury in his sophomore year ended his track career.

Despite his inability to run track, Juras stayed in school and pursued a business degree. Although he was married, had a young daughter, and was not fully recovered from the hamstring injury, he was drafted into the Army during his senior year at UT in 1969. He served as an infantryman in the Army for two years, most of it in Germany in the Berlin Brigade, and attained the rank of Sergeant. Returning to UT after being honorably discharged from the Army, Mike graduated in 1973 with a Business Degree.

"I got drafted in 1969. At this time I was still at Tennessee, I was married and had a 6-month-old baby girl. Plus I had a bad leg that every doctor I saw said would keep me out of the service. I got seriously hurt in my sophomore year. I ripped my hamstring in half. The doctor said even if they sewed my hamstring back together I would never gain back the use it, or have any strength."

"After I graduated from UT, I took a job teaching adults and was looking for a coaching job. In my local paper I saw an ad for coaches at a very elite school in Long Island, Chaminade High School, which was a Catholic school for young men in grades 9-12. The kids that went to this school were children of United States Senators and Congressman, New York State Senators and Congressman, doctors, lawyers and very important businessman. I coached there for two years and turned the program from bad to outstanding. My first year there we had maybe 30 kids on the team. When I left we had close to 100 kids. To this day all my work-outs are still used by the coaches that followed me."

"While I was coaching at Chaminade, I went to a summer fun track meet and met my high school coach there. He told me that Wagner College in New York City was looking for a track coach. I when for an interview and got the job. I coached at Wagner for 4-5 years. The AD told me he could not afford to fund a full team. So he told me to just put a relay team together. I did that and Wagner got good reviews because the team won the mile relay and two mile relay in just about every meet we entered. We even got invited to run in the Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden. Back then you ran 11 laps to the mile. What fun it was getting pushed around in the turns. At the Millrose Games my mile relay team won third place. The AD was happy and we got a nice write-up in the local Staten Island newspaper."

Bob Barber tells an interesting story about Mike's coaching. "Mike had a very aggressive, strong voice with a distinct NJ type accent. Similar to how you could hear Chuck Rohe from a block away. I was living in the NY area, actually across the river in NJ -- this was maybe '75 or '76. I took my wife to the Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden. From the stands I could hear this voice yelling at relay runners. I knew I recognized the voice from somewhere. I made my way down closer to the track, and the voice was Mike Juras yelling at his Wagner runners. True story. That was one coaching quality Mike styled after Chuck."

Despite the good coaching Mike Juras did at Wagner College and the favorable publicity his teams provided, the Athletic Director decided to put all the track money into basketball. He felt he could get more notice with a good basketball team. Without any recruiting money, Mike had to quit coaching the track team.

"The good thing for me, he says, was that the college paid for my MBA. So I got a free advanced degree. Then I when to work in the computer field for the rest of my working years."