By BLAIR AMES
The Frederick News-Post
MIDDLETOWN, Md. (AP) — As a senior in high school, Dave Grove set what was the Gov. Thomas Johnson High School record in the 800 meters on the track beside Middletown Middle School.
Now the track that Grove once competed on will bear his name, but it is not in recognition of his athletic accomplishments.
The Middletown Middle School PTSA is honoring Grove by renaming their newly renovated track the Dave R. Grove Track because of his 40 years of service to the school, according to PTSA president Christy Kehlbeck.
“This man is truly dedicated to do whatever he can to improve the lives of these students,” she said.
Grove started as an aide at what was then Middletown High School in 1972. He has been involved with Middletown athletics since then and has been a physical education teacher at the school since 1975.
He said that as a product of so many people before him, he is proud that their message has made it to the community through him.
“It’s humbling to say the least,” he said.
Kehlbeck said the track improvements cost more than $50,000, with help from a $10,000 grant from the Henkel Helps Kids Get Fit program.
Originally there were no plans to name the track after anyone, but throughout the fundraising process Kehlbeck said the PTSA received numerous recommendations that it should be named to commemorate Grove.
“Everyone talks about how he has just inspired people,” Kehlbeck said. “He’s just a wonderful gift to our community.”
Grove started as a full-time physical education teacher in Middletown at the start of the 1975-76 school year when the former high school opened as the middle school.
During the three years prior he split his time coaching at Middletown, while teaching physical education at Liberty and Wolfsville elementary schools.
Grove said it was coaching that lured him into teaching because he loved teaching sports’ fundamentals and encouraging his athletes.
But Grove also pursued teaching because as a student, his coaches were all teachers.
“I thought it was a natural carryover,” he said. “It’s just part of what you do.”
After 40 years, Grove said working with students and relaying the joy of movement is what he enjoys most about teaching.
“It keeps me young as well,” he said.
Middletown’s new track is a night-and-day difference from its appearance when school ended in June, Grove said.
“We couldn’t ask them (students) to do any max effort,” he said. “There were craters on the track.”
Track and field is a big part of the physical education spring unit, and Grove said students use the track every day for at least a warm-up or other activities.
Throughout his 40 years of coaching and teaching, Grove’s message hasn’t changed
“It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, just keep moving,” he said.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)