Fred Lawler was born in Alabama in 1897 and lived there until he died 72 years later. If he was an athlete he never had a chance to find out because he had to work too hard just to get by. He was never what anybody would call well-off, but he owned his own house and his own piece of land, and although he was uneducated he saw to it that his seven children stayed in school, even during cotton-picking season when other people's children had to work in the fields.
One thing about Fred Lawler, he was always in a hurry. His children remember that he didn't just climb onto the seat of his tractor or into the cab of his truck, he jumped. And when he jumped back down, he hit the ground running.
"Run! Run!" was his constant exhortation.
And run they did. They ran everywhere, and they climbed up and jumped off everything, off treetops, rooftops, barn tops. They were strong, skinny country children who walked four miles to school and back in Gadsden in all weather, and they were natural athletes. The girls—Evelyn, Freddie, Lurene and Sue—played basketball at Carver High School, and Evelyn and Freddie ran track, too. Fred Lawler would drive the track team to meets in his truck, and his wife, Lurene, would accompany her daughters to town for basketball games, taking with her an armload of firewood for the friend she would visit while she waited for them.
May 31, 1981
Evelyn was the second-oldest girl, and the skinniest. She ran so fast and jumped so high at Carver that she caught the eye of Major Cleve Abbott, the athletic director at Tuskegee Institute, and with his help she became the first in her family to go to college. At Tuskegee, Evelyn Lawler studied to be a physical-education teacher and she ran the hurdles. Also at Tuskegee, Evelyn met and married William McKinley Lewis Jr., from Chicago, a tall, handsome football player, sprinter and long jumper who was studying to be a teacher.
In 1951, the year she graduated, Evelyn made the team that went to the first Pan American Games, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she finished sixth in the 80-meter hurdles.
Today Evelyn and Bill Lewis live and teach high school in Willingboro, N.J., a tidy but otherwise unremarkable suburb 15 miles from Philadelphia. They have been married for almost 30 years and they show every sign of intending to be married for at least 30 more. Obviously theirs is a good match. In the matter of genes, and people are always bringing up the subject of genes with the Lewises, the match was clearly made in heaven. Evelyn and Bill have four children—Mackie, 26, Cleve, 25, Carl, 19, and Carol, 17—and every one is an extraordinary athlete. Mackie was a high school sprinter and long jumper who still holds a county record for the 220. Cleve was an All-New England soccer player at Brandeis and the first American black ever drafted by a pro soccer team, the Cosmos. Ultimately he played two seasons for the Memphis Rogues.
But it is the younger two, Carl and Carol, both long jumpers, who are putting Willingboro on the map. Both of them made the 1980 Olympic team that didn't go to Moscow, and both are such extraordinarily gifted athletes that their coaches, when asked to assess their potential, are often at a loss for words.
"I don't know," says Tom Tellez, the track coach at the University of Houston, where Carl is a sophomore. "I've never had anyone like him."
Which is not to say that Tellez has not coached talented athletes. While he was an assistant at UCLA, he had three outstanding long jumpers, 27-foot-man James McAlister and NCAA champions Jerry Herndon and Finn Bendixen, as well as outstanding triple jumpers Willie Banks, Milan Tiff and James Butts. But Carl Lewis is something else again. Three weeks ago at the UCLA-Pepsi meet in Los Angeles he made the second-longest jump in history, 28'3¾". Because the aiding wind was .02 over the allowable two meters per second, that leap isn't officially recognized, but his jump of 27'9¼" the same day set a U.S. all-comers record. He holds the world indoor record of 27'10¼", which he set at the Southwest Conference championships in Fort Worth on Feb. 20.
"Speed is the biggest factor in long jumping. You have to have it to be great," says Tellez. "Kids with Carl's speed usually run sprints. The sprints are more glamorous. But now, in Carl, we have a sprinter who jumps."
Lewis was ranked seventh in the world for 100 meters last year, when his best time was 10.21, and he is clearly improving. This winter, on the same day on which he established his indoor long-jump record, he also ran the fourth-fastest 60-yard dash ever, 6.06. Only Stanley Floyd, last year's top-ranked sprinter who has done 6.04 twice, and Houston McTear, at 6.05, have bettered his time. Then, two weeks ago at the Southwest Conference outdoor championships in Dallas, Lewis ran the fastest sea-level 100 meters in history, 10.00. There have been just two better times, the world record of 9.95 by Jim Hines of the U.S. and a 9.98 by Cuba's Silvio Leonard, which were achieved in the thin air of Mexico City and Guadalajara, respectively. Lewis' time is an NCAA record, breaking the mark of 10.02 set by USC's James Sanford last year. If the voting were held right now, Lewis might possibly be ranked No. 1 in the world in both the long jump and 100 meters.
Understandably, Tellez says he doesn't know what Carl's best event is. At the SWC meet Lewis set the highest recorded conference total by scoring 32 points for Houston, which finished fourth behind winner Texas A&M with a team total of 85. In addition to his blazing 100, he won the 200 meters in 20.73 and anchored the Cougars' second-place 400-meter relay team. To conserve energy, he took just one long jump, but with it he set an SWC record of 27'¾". So versatile is Lewis that Tellez thinks he could be one of the greatest hurdlers ever. The late Jumbo Elliott once said Lewis was a born quarter-miler.
Be all that as it may, Carl decided years ago to be a long jumper, and ever since he has politely resisted the blandishments of coaches with other things in mind. A high school coach who wanted Carl to run the hurdles once made a bargain with him. If Carl, whose best time then was 9.8 for the 100-yard dash, could do 9.5 before the end of the season, he wouldn't have to run hurdles at all the next season. Carl ran a 9.3 and held the coach to his bargain. Having decided to be a long jumper, however, and, furthermore, to be the best long jumper in the world, Carl is condemned, as all long jumpers have been for nearly 13 years, to chasing a ghost.
Bob Beamon's 29'2½" jump at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City was one of those rare athletic feats that are so far beyond the standard of their time that they are almost incomprehensible. Like Babe Ruth's 60 home runs, Bobby Jones' 13 major championships and Rudolf Harbig's 1:46.6 for the 800, Beamon's jump was for years considered untouchable. After all, it was almost two feet farther than anyone had jumped before. World records in long jumping aren't supposed to be improved in increments of feet. Inches, maybe, but not feet.
Lately, though, the impossible has begun to seem possible after all. Lutz Dombrowski of East Germany jumped 28'¼" at the Moscow Olympics last summer, the first, except for Beamon's, of more than 28 feet. Larry Myricks, 25, won the 1979 World Cup with a leap of 27'11½" two years ago and has been over 27 feet more than a dozen times since. And now there is Lewis, with his stunning performances at the Pepsi meet. Furthermore, Carl has already won three NCAA long-jump titles (two indoor, one outdoor). No one has ever won four, and Carl has five more shots at it before he graduates. But the best reason for optimism is Carl's age. Nineteen is young for a long jumper. Tellez, although he is instinctively cautious (and possibly a little superstitious, too) said last month, "It's conceivable Lewis can jump in the 29s if conditions are right. I know he'll be in the 28s." How right he was.
Clyde Duncan, who is one of Tellez's assistants at Houston, says flatly, "Within two years Lewis can do 30 feet."
And then there is Carol Lewis. An assistant track coach at Willingboro High School, where Carol is a senior, says, "She's probably one of the most gifted athletes in history." The girls' head coach might say it, too, but Evelyn Lewis is the head coach and it's not in her nature to brag about her wondrous children.
Carol, like Carl, is a long jumper by choice. She holds the American Junior record of 21'7¾", and, at 17, she was the fourth-ranked female long jumper in the U.S. last year. At Willingboro High, however, they like to talk about all the other things she has done and could have done. She hurdles, she high-jumps and she puts the shot. She used to be on the school diving team, and even though she is 5'10" and 145 pounds, she is an excellent gymnast. When she was 13 she entered her first and last pentathlon competition. She won, setting a national age-group record, and then she retired. When she was a high school freshman and diving was her favorite sport after long jumping, the girls' freshman basketball coach at Willingboro tried to lure her onto his team. Carol showed up the first day of practice, complaining loudly that she didn't know how to play the game. Then, according to Frank Schuenemann, the coach, the first time she touched the ball she "grabbed it off the rim on a rebound like a guy and threw it to another girl so hard the girl couldn't get her arms up and it hit her on the head."
But basketball wasn't Carol's cup of tea, and after a couple of days she went back to the pool. "I bet she could dunk," says Schuenemann wistfully.
Tellez thinks Carol might be better than Carl was at the same age. "She's a simply amazing athlete," he says. "And she and Carl are identical in the way they think and respond. I really want a chance to work with her."
Tellez will get his chance. Carol decided in early March to attend Houston next year. She has always been one of the boys, and the Lewis boys, all three of them, are already in Houston. Carol claims she doesn't miss her brothers, but she calls them several times a week, often collect. Cleve, who has an economics degree from Brandeis, works as a financial analyst for Dun & Bradstreet and shares an off-campus apartment with Carl. Mackie is studying for a degree in geology at the university. He trains with the track team when he isn't in class. "Mackie is a real dedicated student," says Carl. "He's always in class."
"I was a little disappointed when Carl chose Houston," says Bill Lewis, "but only because of the distance. When Cleve was at Brandeis I could drive up there in six hours. But I can't go to Houston." On the other hand, Houston has Tellez, and Tellez knows jumping, and Bill Lewis knows he knows. "If you have to turn your child over to someone," says Bill, "I can't think of anybody I'd feel better about turning him over to."
A tall, trim 54, Bill Lewis teaches social studies at John F. Kennedy, the other high school in Willingboro, and he knows coaches because he is one. He coaches the girls' track team at Kennedy, just as Evelyn does at Willingboro. At dual meets between the schools, Evelyn says, they "kiss and come out fighting." Evelyn's teams, buttressed by Carol and her best friend, Michelle Glover, who ranked eighth in the U.S. at 100 meters in 1980, have won New Jersey state championships both indoors and outdoors the last couple of years. Bill's team is "rebuilding," as they say in the coaching game.
"When we came to Willingboro from Alabama in 1963, I wanted very much to coach track," says Evelyn, "but the athletic director said no. The girls only had a field hockey team and, later, a softball team. So I began teaching a few promising girls a year on my own. I took three of them to a meet in Red Bank and they did very well. I thought that would fire up some of our school officials, get them interested, but they didn't respond, so I pretty much gave up and just worked with kids in class."
In 1969, Evelyn and Bill founded the Willingboro Track Club so that the town's young athletes could compete through the summer months. Carl and Carol were seven and five, respectively—too young to compete but old enough to tag along and play in the sand of the long-jump pit. "It saved baby-sitting money," says Evelyn. Carol, whose closets are now filled with warmup suits and running shoes, says her earliest memory is of "going to practice every day and running around in my K-Mart specials," black Keds with high tops.
At first the club was made up of 12 to 15 girls, the youngest of them 9-year-olds, who worked out two evenings a week at Kennedy High. Then the boys, who had been standing around looking on during May and June, asked if they could join, and before the summer was over the Lewises had staged seven local track meets and an Olympic development meet. Within two years they were sending teams to the Jesse Owens novice meets in Philadelphia, and in 1974, "by scuffling around for air fare, motels and food expenses," they took 12 boys, one of them Carl, to the age-group nationals in Pasadena, Calif. "We had one national record and almost everyone got a medal," says Evelyn proudly.
When the parents of club members could afford it, they paid the travel expenses. When they couldn't, there were dances and candy sales and raffles to make up the difference. And if there was still not enough, the money came out of the Lewises' pockets. Through the 1970s, the club's expenses ran from $15,000 to $20,000 a year, of which as much as $7,000 to $10,000 came out of Bill's and Evelyn's teacher's salaries. Evelyn has had her heart set on carpeting for her house for years, but every year something more important comes up, such as getting an athlete—her own child or someone else's—to a meet where that athlete deserves to be, and the carpeting is postponed again. "I wouldn't have spent a penny any other way," she says.
It is Sunday morning in Willingboro. In the kitchen at 4 Thornhill Lane, Carol Lewis is perched on a stool at a counter, reading the sports section and waiting for something to happen, like breakfast. Her gloriously athletic frame is encased, hood to bunny feet, in a fuzzy blue get-up called a "chillchaser."
"They should put me in Superstars" she says to her mother and an invisible audience of hundreds. "I'd kill those girls."
When communication is essential, Carol can speak slowly, calmly and with only moderate emphasis, just as Carl does. But when she is entertaining the folks, which is all the rest of the time, her voice has the timbre and the inflection of a Pavarotti, the pace of a jack-hammer and a bit of a lisp.
She continues her monologue. "What do they have? A water jump? I'd long-jump that. A high bar? I'd hurdle that. A wall? That's like climbing fences. I'd just jump up half of that. When Skeets [Renaldo Nehemiah] was in Superstars, you know what he tripped over? The hurdles! Fell flat on his face. I'd have been really embarrassed. What's for breakfast, Mom?"
Evelyn Lawler Lewis is leaning over the dishwasher. It is clear she is no ordinary 51-year-old mother of four. For one thing, she is wearing size-7 blue jeans, running shoes and a warmup jacket that says STATE CHAMPS, TRACK AND FIELD, 1980 on the back and COACH LEWIS in small letters on the front. She seems almost frail beside her strapping daughter, but her movements are still those of an athlete. She hurries without seeming to.
Her sister, Freddie O'Garro, who lives a few blocks away, says she has seen Evelyn going over the hurdles during a P.E. class as recently as last month. "I don't do it often," says Evelyn. "Only when nothing seems to be getting through. I like it to come out of them. I think I'm a pretty low-key coach."
"I'm not surprised she can still get over," says her son Cleve. "She outran us for a long time, me until I was 10 or so. We used to get out most every week, out in front of the house, and I'd say, 'O.K., Mom, I'm ready now,' and she'd beat me again."
Evelyn is hurrying to a breakfast meeting with two of her three assistant coaches to map out the opening weeks of the outdoor season for the track team.
"You're on your own this morning," she tells her daughter.
"Awwww, Mom!" Carol moans, more to be saying something than out of genuine distress. She drags herself across the room and pulls open the refrigerator door. "I think I'll have noodles," she says to herself, but loudly enough for her mother to hear. "They're the easiest." Her mother doesn't rise to the bait.
Carol Lewis has a better time than ought to be legal. She seems to grab every day, wring it out, toss it aside and reach for the next. She works out, she competes, she does most of her schoolwork in study hall, and she gets B's. She travels every time she gets a chance, which is more and more often these days as the pace of her invitations from meet directors picks up. And, when there is absolutely nothing else to do, she sits in her room with Muffett, her fiercely loyal Pekingese-Chihuahua-cocker spaniel, by her side and with her stereo blasting, she reads Harlequin romances at a rate of four or five a week.
The walls and ceiling of her bedroom are covered, every inch, with photos, posters and memorabilia of an already full life. Most of the people in the pictures would be heroes to a normal 17-year-old. To Carol they are friends, the ones she sees when she travels. They are sprinters and pentathletes and field-hockey players. They are judoists, gymnasts, weight lifters and divers. She has an album of snapshots, taken last summer during the week of festivities held in Washington, D.C. for the disappointed U.S. Olympic team, which is full of her friends—hurdler Benita Fitzgerald, diver Greg Louganis, sprinters Harvey Glance, Stanley Floyd and Pam Greene. Also hurdler Willie Gault, 800-meter-man Don Paige, President Carter and Andy Gibb. Gibb is hugging Carol. The top of his wavy blond locks almost reaches her collarbone. And there is a photograph of Carol, leaning on a mantelpiece, wearing her Olympic cowgirl parade uniform and staring haughtily down her nose at the camera. The hand-lettered caption reads, ME IN THE EAST ROOM.
"Carol is not shy," says Evelyn. "She was extremely active even when she was a little thing." In spite of her 18 years in the Northeast, Evelyn's voice still has soft Alabama edges. "I had to learn not to be frightened for her. Everybody else would be swinging, and she'd be up on top of the swing. At six months she could crawl over the top of her crib. She didn't even associate with girls till she was about 13. She was Carl's buddy and nobody else's. His friends were her friends. She played their games. They treated her just like one of them. I used to wonder when she was ever going to change."
Only two years apart in age, Carl and Carol were inseparable. When Carl took cello lessons and played in the school orchestra, Carol took violin and did the same. If Carl was going to be a long jumper, so was Carol. If Carl was going to make the Olympic team, so was Carol.
At the Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Ore. last June, Carl made the team by finishing second behind Myricks in the long jump and fourth in the 100, thereby qualifying for the sprint relay. Even though they knew then that there would be no Olympics, it was a happy moment for all the Lewises. But when Carol, then only 16, also made the team by finishing third in the women's long jump, the entire family was ecstatic. Carl was in the stands that day, watching nervously. "When Carol made it, it was a bigger thrill than when I did," he says. Carol pointed to the ordinarily reserved Evelyn and said, "Just look at our mother there in the crowd, hugging and kissing and everything."
Carl had been progressing steadily toward the Olympic team for years. "When I started high school, the school record was 21'6"," he says. "No one in the county had ever jumped much beyond 22 feet. I jumped 22 feet after my freshman year, so I made it my goal to jump 25 feet before I was out of high school. I even put 25 feet on my jacket in my sophomore year, and I was laughed at. No one in South Jersey can jump over 25 feet is what they were saying."
By the time Carl entered Houston, he had jumped 26'8" and had made the national teams that went to the Pan Am Games in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and the Spartakiade and had won bronze medals at both.
College track and field athletes, even those as talented as Carl, rarely get the sort of recognition they deserve. Last February, thanks to Frank Schultz, Houston's assistant athletic director for media relations, Carl got some recognition, but he got it at a basketball game. Schultz cooked up a brief ceremony to take place in Hofheinz Pavilion at halftime of a Cougar game. Ostensibly, the ceremony was to retire the shoes that Carl had worn when he had made his indoor-world-record jump at the Southwest Conference championships the previous week. In fact, the idea was to allow the student body to recognize an outstanding athletic achievement in a less publicized sport, an event that probably none of them had witnessed, since it had taken place in Fort Worth.
The moment could have fallen flat, and at first Carl seemed aware of that possibility. He responded to the applause of the basketball crowd with a polite wave, a little duck of the head and preparation for a fast exit. But then the applause began to swell, and people began to stand up, and finally there was a full, loving, standing ovation. For a long jumper!
Carl, says Schultz, seemed slightly stunned at first, but then he responded in kind. He smiled his brightest, widest, happiest victory smile and raised his arms over his head to acknowledge the sound coming from all around him as if he had just accepted a gold medal on an Olympic victory stand.
"The fans know him," says Tellez, "but they can't normally show their emotion. They don't have the opportunity."
"That was really nice," says Carl, in his measured way. "Really nice."
Carol's big moment was at an international meet in the Olympic Stadium in West Berlin last summer. The U.S. Olympic team was on its post-Games European tour. Many of the athletes were bitterly disappointed at having missed out on Moscow, and Carol was sympathetic, especially to Edwin Moses, the incomparable intermediate hurdler. "I think the only way he would have lost was if he fell down and broke his foot and couldn't get back up again," she says. But she was also having the time of her young life, hopscotching with her friends from country to country. Aug. 8, the day of the Berlin meet, was her 17th birthday. Carl gave her a radio, her team gave her a cake, and she won the long jump, in that order. When she was presented with a gold coin, 32,000 people applauded, but the part she liked best was that she had won in the same stadium where Jesse Owens had triumphed in 1936.
Owens, as man, sprinter and long jumper, looms large in the Lewis household hagiology, right up with Tuskegee's Major Cleve Abbott. Owens was living and working in Chicago in the 1940s when Bill Lewis was a student there at Dunbar Vocational School. "He was always my superhero," says Bill. "I never met a man I was so impressed with."
When Carl was 10 years old and competing in his first Jesse Owens age-group meet in Philadelphia, Bill introduced his son to his hero, and he likes to think that their brief chat that day may have made a long jumper out of Carl. However, Carl says, "Nobody was into the long jump so I always had a lot of time to practice. I never had to wait my turn and I got to run and jump."
Carl has already been likened to Owens. While Owens will always be best remembered for his role in the Berlin Olympics, his greatest day as an athlete was at the Big Ten championships of 1935 when he set world records in the 220 (accepted as the 200-meter record as well), the broad jump and the 220 low hurdles (also recognized as the 200-meter hurdles record) and tied the 100-yard-dash record. Yet Jim Tuppeny, the former track coach at Pennsylvania, told a reporter last year that in his opinion Carl is a better athlete than Owens was.
Another reporter wrote, "This kid is going to be a star, and it's hard to think of anyone who will wear it more gracefully.... You'd like your son to be like Carl Lewis.... He's just about perfect."
Carl is a paragon all right, but a likable one. His manner is open and friendly, neither self-effacing nor aggressive. He answers questions thoughtfully and patiently and he keeps his appointments to the minute. He is a long-legged, good-looking 6'2", 175 pounds, and his back is as straight as a West Point cadet's. He likes clothes and he dresses himself carefully. He also spends his money carefully. A few months ago, while attending a meet in New York City, he and Carol and Stanley Floyd were nearly killed in garment center traffic as they darted between cars, trying to get to a sale at a clothing boutique before the store closed.
Perhaps the most amazing part of Carl's story is that before this season he did all his jumping on a bad knee. Throughout high school, every time he jumped he further injured himself. By the latter half of his senior year he was jumping only in meets, and after every competition the swelling in his right knee would take several days to go down. By the time he got to Houston the muscles of his right leg, his takeoff leg, were atrophied to the point that his so-called weaker leg was the larger. "The joint was taking all the strain that should have been absorbed by the muscular structure," says Tellez, who had never seen Carl jump before he was recruited and knew nothing of the injury until he showed up in Houston.
The problem began with a fall when Carl was 11, which created scar tissue that kept rubbing against the tendons. The condition worsened during his junior year when he developed the habit of reaching for the takeoff board on his last stride. "Usually, when a jumper reaches for the board like that he tends to jump too high. But Carl was able to overcome that," says Tellez.
Finally, at the state Grand Championship meet at the end of his senior year, jumping without spikes from a brand-new board—spikes were forbidden that day because officials feared they would damage the surface—he slipped on his first jump and hurt the knee. On his second jump he slipped again. At last he complained that jumping without spikes was dangerous, and the ban was lifted. On his third jump Carl set a meet record, but the knee injury had been aggravated. His condition, patella tendinitis, or jumper's knee, also afflicts high jumpers. "I don't know how he jumped at all," says Tellez. "But he's a great athlete and great athletes-will find a way."
One way Carl had found was taking off on his left leg. He has jumped nearly 25 feet on the "wrong" leg. Being right-footed naturally and a born hard worker, he dealt with right-footedness as an affliction to be overcome. "I tried to make the left foot stronger," he says. "I high-jumped left-footed, and when I try to dunk a basketball I do it left-footed. I started long-jumping left-footed, too, but then I alternated every year for four years. Finally I got sick of changing every year and I just ended up on the right. Also, I was young and wasn't thinking much about what I was doing. In the end it was good, because when I had to rest the right, I could. It also helps if I ever want to triple-jump."
Since Carl has been at Houston, his bad leg has undergone a three-pronged attack—therapy, exercise and indoctrination in a new technique for his run and takeoff that puts less strain on the knee. Because he couldn't jump without considerable pain through most of his freshman year, he competed much of the time in sprints and sprint relays. Changing the method of a lifetime under such conditions wasn't easy, yet somehow he won both the NCAA indoor and outdoor titles his freshman year and made the Olympic team. He exceeded 26'6" on occasion, but he wasn't yet getting the big jumps he and Tellez were after.
"When you get a kid who was as good in high school as Carl was," says Tellez, "and you tell him 'I'm going to change you,' you'd better know what you're talking about, and he'd better know what you're talking about, and he'd better have confidence in you.
"What Carl and all the other great athletes I've known have in common is that they know themselves. They know how much to work and when to slack off. They have a sense of their bodies and what they can do. Carl is a very sensitive person to things happening around him. The way he was raised, he'd be very vocal about it if things weren't going right. He'd say, 'No, I won't accept this.' "
"About 90% of the time I wanted to change back," says Carl. "I was panicky sometimes when it seemed like nothing was going right. But I was too far along to turn back, so I said to myself, 'O.K., let's go get it.' "
Finally, at the NCAA outdoor meet in Austin, Texas last June, he got it. He did a 27'4¾" that was ruled wind-aided, but Tellez says the wind was just a little gust at the board that had nothing to do with the jump.
"Because he couldn't jump much his first year," says Tellez, "he had to work on the idea of the last two strides. When he got that 27'4¾" he finally felt it."
Carl's strides are seven to eight feet long and on a good outdoor runway there are 21 of them, each a thing of beauty. You can freeze a film of a Carl Lewis long jump on any frame and then just sit back and marvel at the sculptural perfection of the picture in front of you. As in the leaps of a wild animal, an impala, say, there is no awkwardness. As he leaves the board, his left leg and his right arm begin the cycling movements in the air that counteract the natural forward rotation of the body and prepare its position for landing. Then, as his body descends, his legs reach forward, heels stretching for the sand, arms trailing. At the last moment the arms swing forward together to ensure that he continues forward rather than falls back.
When you rerun the film and watch the jump again, again it is perfect.
That is what the Lewis family was doing with a videotape one evening recently in the den of the house on Thornhill Lane. Every surface in the small room is crowded with trophies and scrapbooks, and the walls are covered with plaques and certificates and photographs. The density of objects is dazzling. Eventually, though, one very large silver loving cup comes into focus. The engraving reads:
HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
JAN. 10, 1981
Alongside the trophy is a photo—Carol in her pale-pink prom dress flanked by Bill, in a tux, smiling proudly, his eyeglasses reflecting the photographer's flash, and Evelyn, svelte as a model in her long-sleeved evening gown.
Shirley Hufstedler was still Secretary of Education in January of this year when she introduced Carol at the Touchdown Club awards dinner. Her opening words were, "Carol Lewis, at 17, has already amassed enough awards for a lifetime." Which only proves that you can be Secretary of Education and still not know everything.
This particular evening Bill, Evelyn, Carol and Tommy Farrell, a young neighbor, are huddled in a semicircle in front of the TV, watching over and over again through the miracle of Betamax a tape that Cleve had sent of Carl's indoor-world-record jump in Fort Worth. Every once in a while Evelyn gets up and goes into the kitchen to do something about dinner, and Carol and Farrell talk about movies and track meets and such, but Bill just keeps on watching from his easy chair in the corner, over and over again, as if he were trying to be there, trying to turn back the clock to the days before he had had to turn his child over to someone else.
"For that meet he was at the peak," he says softly. "He couldn't be beat that night at anything."