John Frazier speaks to members of the VS boys CC team before the home meet in September.

Hundreds of VS runners have heard the encouraging words of John Frazier as they completed their cross country courses.

The only cross country head coach that Vinton-Shellsburg has ever had has announced his retirement.
John Frazier told his runners of his plan to step aside as the year-end banquet Thursday evening.

Frazier began coaching cross country in Vinton 31 years ago, a couple years before the merger of the Vinton and Shellsburg districts.

The long-time 2nd grade teacher had retired from that position at the end of the 2015 school year, but continued coaching two more seasons.

Along the way, he has led his team to the State meet several times, and seen several former runners advance to the State Cross Country Meet. He has influenced hundreds of runners, and in recent years, found himself coaching the children of former athletes.

Bronze shoes: Coach Frazier with seniors, who received their unique souvenirs.

At the wrap-up banquet, Frazier honored the seniors with a unique tradition: A bronzed running shoe. He also recognized the last athlete to advance to the State meet under his leadership, senior Cole Tharp.

One of the first traditions Frazier began when he arrived in 1987 was the Homecoming custom of carrying the game ball from the opposing team’s school to the VS football field at the Karr athletic complex. That tradition continues to this day; there was a special recognition for the cross country program in 2012, when it marked its 25th year of the tradition, which is now continuing into its third decade.

Another tradition that began during Frazier’s tenure is the Tour de Lites, the 5K run that takes place each December. This year’s event is set for Dec. 3.