Ron Marinucci: March, 2014 Column

Ron Marinucci: March, 2014 Column

It’s difficult to believe that it has been more than three and a half years since we visited runner Scott Howse. [] Now 29, he’s still active—running and running well.

Howse has autism, diagnosed with it, both medically and educationally, when he was three. But he was running, all over the place, before that, when he was “two years old,” he quipped.

At “11- or 12-years old,” recalled his mother Connie, he joined a cross country team with other home-schooled kids. Later, attending junior and senior high school in Livonia, he continued to run cross country and track. He won numerous meets and even city-wide championships, both individually and as a member of relay teams.

At Schoolcraft College, he was a key cog in Ed Kozloff’s fledgling cross country team, helping to revive a program that had been dormant for almost two decades. His first season there, he posted a personal best of 30:45, which Kozloff thought was a school record at the time. And Howze was selected as the team’s Most Valuable Runner for the season.

In 2010, he was an Academic All-American. According to Connie, he was the lone autistic athlete to be so honored that year. In fact, she said she doesn’t know of “any other athletes in the country with autism who successfully competed at the college-level in cross country. Maybe there are, but I haven’t heard of any.”

Now, Howse’s college eligibility has expired, but Kozloff explained that he still runs with his college cross country team as “an unattached runner. This [the fall of 2013] is his sixth season running with Schoolcraft,” he said, adding, “This year was one of his best.”

Last autumn, in a number of cross country meets and road races, he continued to post good times. In September, at the Spartan Invitational in East Lansing, he ran 30:25, “his second fastest time ever,” Kozloff noted. “His best was 29:50 in 2010.” Two weeks later, he finished in 18:21 at the Madonna 5K.

On the roads, in August he ran the Crim 5K, winning his age-group with 19:00. That was good for twelfth overall, of more than 1300 finishers. At the Free Press 5K, he was the runner-up in his age-group (18:16) and sixth overall (of 2,669).

In December, Howse was featured in the PBS documentary program, A Wider World. The program highlights the successes of people with disabilities. It can be viewed online at [].

He also has continued to write, especially poetry. Some of his poems are found online at []. Connie said, “We’ve noticed that the busier Scott is, the happier he is!”

She continued, “His determination, drive, and courage never cease to amaze us. He certainly still has his problems, but he doesn’t let his autism stand in the way of having a full, productive life.” She stressed that, as always, Scott and the entire Howse family “hope that his story will inspire and encourage other families and people with autism to strive to do their best and for all of us to realize that everyone, ‘normal’ or disabled, is a valuable creation of God and can be productive.”

Father Ken added something that he learned early on. “Many, including myself, never thought that [Scott] could accomplish this much.” But, as “many” others have discovered, so he has.

A bit of an update on our winter of running discontent. I’ve noted many times that I think winter is my favorite running season. But, I must finally admit, January and February have begun to gnaw on me. Dressing for the cold—those layers of clothes!--and restricted places to run are getting old. Perhaps most grating are my sore feet and ankles, which have been rolled and turned countless times by the piles of ice and frozen snow. Ouch! Yet, I still get out there, this morning at 11 below zero.

Two weeks ago, in the bitter cold and 5 or 6 inches of freshly falling snow, I heard a car slow behind me, in an opposite lane of the road. I turned and a sheriff’s deputy was rolling down his window, with a smile. “You know,” he joked, “most people think you’re nuts to be out here in this.” I laughed and we talked for a bit. Before finishing, though, I remarked to him about those drivers who “think you’re nuts.” The really crazy people, I said, are “those who make comments to me while smoking their cigarettes.” He agreed.