Mac mourns loss of longtime track coach

By Max Loos

Macalester lost a coach and a friend this summer.Assistant track and field coach Janis Rider ’88 passed away this summer, just before the beginning of school year, while on vacation in Hawaii with her niece and nephew. She was 44. She was remembered in a memorial service at Macalester on Saturday.

Rider was an athletic star during her time as a student at Macalester, winning the NCAA Division III javelin championship in 1988 and achieving some of the highest women’s basketball numbers in Macalester history.

She became one of the assistant track coaches in 1999, a job she did in exchange not for money, but for Macalester athletic-wear.

“She was a very, very generous person, in more ways than one,” said Pat Jacobson, a family friend of Rider’s. “She thought of the world as a whole community, and you just keep giving and giving and giving.”

Jacobson said she will also remember Rider as an animal lover, a science fiction fan, and a tough card-player.

Chris Pothoven ’12 worked with Rider on his javelin-throwing during the last track season. He said Rider was the type of coach who was only interested in offering helpful advice.

“There are some coaches who are always more intense. She wasn’t one of them.” Pothoven said. “She always had some little comment that made a huge bit of difference.every little bit of advice she gave always added to the throw.”

Rider was also there for her players beyond just coaching.

“She really was our friend. She was great to hang out with during practice and during meets.” Pothoven said. “It’s really hard to imagine her not being there, because she was there for everything.”

Both Rider’s family and Macalester’s track team will work to preserve her memory in concrete ways. The family plans to put together a garden for her at her sister’s home in Duluth, and the Macalester athletic department will be awarding a memorial Rider Cup each year for athletes who are outstanding in multiple sports and in academics.