Friday, January 01, 2021

Bella Vista coach Tom Laythe passed away this morning

I am very sorry to pass this news from current Bella Vista coach Harold Kuplhaldt in regards to fellow coach and former Aggie Tom Laythe.

"As you know he and I have coached together for the last eight years at Bella Vista HS. Prior to that he was at El Camino and had a top 10 state finish there and prior to that he was at Saint Francis where he won a XC state title among other accomplishments. I’m not in a place to write a full bio on Tom’s incredible coaching history but I can say with unreserved confidence that he was one of the most well-liked people and well-connected people in the running community. Just about everybody knew Tom Laythe.

He died this morning from complications of a COVID-19 infection. He has been in the intensive care unit for more than two weeks and fought very hard. As recently as December 27 it looked like he was going to beat it and make it out of the hospital. However, shortly after my optimistic report to the team on December 27, Tom took a turn for the worse and passed away this morning on New Year’s Day."

The following was posted by Jon M. Holmes on Facebook.
"COVID has taken a lot over this past year, but this one impacts so many. Friend and fellow distance coach at Bella Vista High School, coach Tom Laythe, passed this morning after courageously fighting to recover from COVID.  

Tom loved coaching and developing distance runners. To say that he made a significant impact on the athletes he coached and the coaches he coached with is at best a profound understatement. He was not consumed or driven by winning, even though his coaching career was filled with tremendous successes. What Tom talked about often is our runners developing meaningful relationships and life-skills that would travel with them far beyond their time running with our team. This is what made Tom such a transformational coach and exceptional human. 

Tom also possessed the great gift of providing others with experiences of expansive bouts of laughter. If you were around Tom, you were going to laugh... and not in small amounts. Tom provided the kind of laughter that left one gasping for air and believing surely a rib or ribs were about to shatter and a diaphragmatic hernia was about to ensue. That was Tom. That is Tom.  That is Tom’s essence.  This is what Tom leaves as part of his wonderful legacy. This is also what makes Tom’s passing so tough. 

There are hundreds and more likely thousands feeling the greatness of this loss, especially his family.  His family was such a source of joy. When the athletes were out on their warm-up runs, Tom often shared his daily adventures of spending the hours prior to practice being a grandpa. He absolutely loved being a grandpa! I feel like I know his granddaughter because of the delightful stories and pictures Tom shared with us. These stories and daily Grandpa Tom reports will be deeply missed. 

In short, Tom was at his core a family man and this is what made him such a great coach. We are beyond blessed that he warmly invited us into his family, although it was for far too short of a time. 

One thing I’ve learned from Tom is that a good man, who exudes a great love for others, and can instantaneously rattle off a good story, this kind of man, he is a world changer. So Tom, thank you for changing our world and inviting us to be a part of your story. 

As Tom would often say, “It’s all good,” and although that feels far from reality at this moment, I am sure he would say to us in this season of deep loss and sadness that his conviction that “it’s all good,” is never more true. Yes, truly, “It’s all good,” Tom, but this is not easy or without pain. Our loss is real and our gratitude for Tom is great. RIP our dear friend and coach."

The following was posted by Jim Van Dine on Facebook
"Tom Laythe was simply the finest person I have ever known.  Proud to have been his best friend for 45 years.  We lived together in 6 different places in 3 different states.  We worked together at 4 different jobs (including 6 years at Reebok.)

I love Tom as much as those in my immediate family.  The finest person I have ever known: huge heart, best sense of humor, kind and giving.  He was a special Ed teacher and track coach for many years.  One of the photos here show him with some of our track brothers : Pat Devaney, Mike Fanelli and Peter Thompson. The biggest loss I have ever felt.  The world was a better place because of Tom.  Hard to believe he is gone.  One day we will gather and tell stories and laugh.  I am not yet ready to do so.  Thank you Tom for providing so much light to so many people.

People: Wear a mask, socially distance. COVID-19 is very real."

If anybody would like to share their thoughts or add a bit more about some of Tom's accomplishments, please do so below.


Anonymous said...

I didn't know him well, but as a Bella Vista alumni, I have heard the positive messages he passed on to his runners, namely concise effective feedback. He and Coach Kuphaldt, (and previously Coach Cleland) were the reason that Bella Vista had one the deepest teams in the Section, maybe only second to Davis. I know his absence will be noticed, when XC rolls around again.

Hillary Kigar said...

Tom was one of the kindest men. He coached my brother (Chris Kigar) and that 2010 boys team won the SJS division 3 championship. Chris went on to place 3rd at the CIF state meet and later competed at Chico State. Tom was the kind of guy to talked to everyone like a close friend. He would always chat your ear off at a meet and genuinely cared about the cross country community and everyone who was a part of it. He will majorly be missed.

pmccrystle said...

I am still reeling from this news. As so many have said, Tom was one of the people i most hoped to see at any meet i went to, because any time spent with him was pure joy: laughter, affirmation, stories, and insider scoop on all the people and teams i didn't know anything about. I feel for all his beloved family, his fellow coaches, his former colleagues, and all those student-athletes he inspired along the way...a tremendous loss for us all. Peace to all in the new year.

Anonymous said...

I am so sad to hear about Coach Tom's death. As a parent of an alum of St Francis, it was always fun to run into Coach Tom at a Cross Country or Track meet. He always had the most positive attitude. He will be missed.

Unknown said...

I will remember Coach Tom with much fondness and bright memories. He made me care more and laugh lots. We inspired greatness and for relationships to be deep and real. Rest in peace and I picture you playing with Odie in Heaven.

Popular Posts