History Teacher and Coach Chuck Schwartz is the Speedy Gonzales of Adams State and Air Academy

Sporting a cool mustache, Schwartz  runs in the lead of a 3000 meter steeple chase he won in Albuquerque (1990).

Sporting a cool mustache, Schwartz runs in the lead of a 3000 meter steeple chase he won in Albuquerque (1990).

Is it Chuck Schwartz, or National Collegiate Athlete Association (NCAA) 3000-Meter Steeplechase National Champion of 1988?

For the sake of brevity and ease of reading, Schwartz will have to do.

Anyone who knows Schwartz will know that coaching track and cross country are his passion alongside family and teaching. Those same people will know that Schwartz is full of character, personality and a nonchalant, “silent but deadly,” style of humor.

What some do not know–because he is extremely humble–is that ever since an incredible split-second decision in 1984, Schwartz has run in numerous races and knocked every one of them out of the park.

“I started running in middle school informally – did some 10K races in the 7th grade and ran many long miles for conditioning in basketball.  In my junior year, my high school dropped the baseball program which I was really into – I was walking through the gym after school upon hearing the news that the baseball program was canceled and I saw some guys sitting on the bleachers getting reading for track.  I made a split decision to join the track team at that moment. I have run or been involved in track and cross country ever since that day in 1984,” said Schwartz.

“My first race ever in high school was a 5:03 mile straight out of off season basketball. The coaches were shocked! So they made me continue in track.”

Schwartz also casually mentions from time to time he was coached by perhaps (the other) greatest running coach of all time–Colorado native Joe Vigil.

The truly legendary status of Dr. Joe Vigil is astounding; he has a doctorate in exercise physiology and there is a statue of him at Adams State.

Vigil ran for Adams State University in Alamosa, Colorado and then turned around and began coaching for them later. Adams State is the running capital of Colorado, a training hotspot world-renowned for its sweet spot altitude and trails with similar conditions to Colorado Springs, Colorado; Boulder, Colorado; Flagstaff, Arizona; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Park City, Utah; and Bozeman, Montana.

“I had tremendous coaches throughout my career.  In high school, my strength coach went on to work with LSU in his career and in college, my coach [Joe Vigil] was an Olympic Track and Field Coach and considered a world expert on altitude training.  I also had the chance to train constantly with international and Olympic teams from Poland, Korea, Japan, Italy, Finland, New Zealand, etc… I am blessed to have had the experiences I have had. I did, however, give up a full-ride scholarship to the University of Arkansas at Monticello- a sprinter dominated track program in the south in order to move to Adams State and train in Alamosa, which I eventually got a scholarship, but had to walk-on initially. Most athletes would not take that route,” said Schwartz.

Adams State is the running college in Colorado because of Joe Vigil. He began coaching for Adams State in 1965 and retired from Adams State in 1993. During this time, Joe Vigil led the team to 19 national titles in cross country and track.

In 1991, Vigil was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame; in 1997, he head coached the Pan American Games Team; in 1998, he head coached the United States Olympic distance running team; in 1988 and 2008, he was the assistant coach of the United States Olympic distance running team; and due to winning the National Coach of the year award 14 times, he was awarded the Legendary Coach award by USA Track and Field in 2015.

Schwartz (second row, second in from the left) poses for the 1986 University of Arkansas at Monticello track team photo.

What does Vigil have to do with Schwartz one may ask? The answer lies in Schwartz’s love for coaching and teaching. Clearly, a great mentor such as Vigil rubbed off on Air Academy’s own Schwartz. From 1987 to 1991, Schwartz ran for Adams State under the Vigil’s leadership and after graduating, ran for another 4 years, professionally sponsored by Reebok.

“I majored in Kinesiology, Exercise Physiology and Coaching specifically. Social Studies was an additional concentration I added. I have wanted to be a teacher and coach ever since high school,” said Schwartz.

Additionally, Schwartz has 25 years of experience coaching at the high school level as well. He spent 20 years coaching at Doherty High School and the most recent five at AAHS.

Schwartz’s personal life, in many ways, is just as amazing as his professional life. does. He is truly an inspiration inside and out.

“I work out every day. I lift and work with a personal trainer…I spend time playing sports with my kids. And of course, I do lots of off-season commitments with Track and Field,” added Schwartz.

Every great movie has a sequel, every dynasty has a successor and, according to Mr. Schwartz, the running gene doesn’t end with him.

“My kids love to run.  My oldest is pretty good, [but] he doesn’t run much and I do not push him. Although, he did really well in Landsharks as an elementary school competitor,” he said.

His oldest may be glad he’s not pressured to live up to such a big reputation. However, Schwartz’s runners who he coaches are encouraged to work hard every day and get better all the time. With the superior guidance he provides, runners consistently blossom.

“I would like to win another State Championship for Air Academy and/or qualify a team for Portland in the Cross Country NXN race,” said Schwartz. (Nike Cross Nationals is a prestigious cross country race with the best of the best high school runners from 5 different regions of the United States.)

Schwartz also enjoys reading in his free time.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of books containing ideologies and ‘words to live by’ around the world. Naturally, Schwartz promotes a strong and powerful nugget of wisdom, which is worth remembering.

“Every day move one step in the direction of fear or avoidance to conquer that weakness.  At the end of your lifetime you will have engaged in a constant battle for yourself and for good.  You will also be a rock of wisdom and integrity after a lifetime of that practice,” informed Schwartz.

Speaking of books, has Schwartz ever mentioned that he knows and is even friends with the amazing runners, authors, coaches, and philanthropists, Toby Tanser and PhD. of exercise physiology Jack Daniels?

Toby Tanser wrote “Train Hard, Win Easy; The Kenyan Way” among four other books. He also founded the Shoe4Africa charity to build a cancer hospital in Africa and is a leader of the largest running club in the world, the New York Flyers.

Jack Daniels is an Olympic bronze (1960 Rome summer Olympic games) and silver (1956 Melbourne summer Olympic games) medalist in the Pentathalon. Jack Daniels coached eight NCAA National Team Champions, 130 All-American titles and 30 individual Division III NCAA National Champions. Runner’s Magazine named him World’s Best Coach and in 2008 he began coaching online and partially owns and head coaches the Run SMART Project.

Additionally, Daniels has written 9 books. Most famously, he wrote, “Daniels’ Running Formula.”

As if that isn’t impressive enough, Mr. Schwartz is good friends with Dr. Alex Constantindes, who is a crucial member of the Never Alone Foundation which specializes and promotes international adoption, which is where Mr. Schwartz and his loving family adopted a little girl from China. Every year around the beginning of school, the Never Alone Foundation 5k is hosted and proceeds from race entry money go to the foundation.