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FAIR OAKS, Calif. (KTXL) – Coach, mentor, friend – that’s what Tom Laythe, 65, was like to his team.
“He’s been a big part of my life for four years. I have photos with him for every meeting, ”said Logan Marlatt, sophomore athlete from Bella Vista High School. “He taught me to break down the barriers of racing, taught me to be a better person in general.”
Laythe coached varsity cross country and track and field at Bella Vista High School in Fair Oaks.
He was best known for his kindness, positive mind and sense of humor.
“He was funny and loved making people laugh and loved to laugh himself. And so he always kept things light and he could read really well, ”said Harold Kuphaldt, who trained with Laythe.
And to his student-athletes, he was more like family.
“He was more than a coach. He was more than a friend. He was one of the best people I have ever met and I miss him very much, ”said Marlatt.
This is why they felt collective pain when Laythe was admitted to the hospital with COVID-19.
“We were worried. I mean, we were hoping that didn’t happen,” said Bruce Marlatt, senior at Bella Vista High School.
Laythe died on New Years Day.
“Tom is definitely one of those people who cannot be replaced. I mean, of course we can find another coach, but it won’t be Tom, ”Kuphaldt said.
For Laythe, it wasn’t about winning or losing. It was about shaping the people under the tracksuit, which he made known in his coaching biography.
“I have been fortunate to work with many exceptional students / athletes who have been successful in the classroom, on track and on the cross country course. Our hope is that they can apply some of the life lessons learned from running to the rest of their lives, ”he wrote.
And to those he trained, that’s exactly what he did.
“Use his inspiration, use his life as an inspiration to do something good with ourselves,” Bruce Marlatt told FOX40.
In a message to the students, the principal of Bella Vista High School called Laythe a “wonderful man with a caring spirit.”
Advisory services were made available to students and staff.