Godby’s McKenzie glad mentor requested his help with girls’ track

Published: Jul. 8, 2020 at 7:11 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 9, 2020 at 9:12 AM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Most retired people do not willingly come out of retirement. But when Tallahassee track legend Jesse Forbes calls, people tend to listen, and Leander McKenzie Jr. was open to his mentor’s request.

McKenzie Jr. has led the Godby girls’ program for the past four seasons.

”My initial reaction when Coach Forbes called me was, ‘I don’t think I want to deal with these kids.‘”

But that quickly changed.

“I wish I would have invested my time in my career in spending time in the school system to be able to work with the kids,” McKenzie said.

The reasons Coach Forbes wants McKenzie around are obvious: He was inducted into FSU’s Hall of Fame in 2002. He qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials twice In the 400m hurdles and 110m hurdles.

“There’s so many similarities in where i come from and where these kids come from,” McKenzie said. “It just means so much to me to be able to give back to this community.”

Leander says in four years, 15 girls have continued their careers in college and he says they still reach out for advice.

”To have a personal relationships with these kids after they leave the high school level that means so much to me,” McKenzie said, “In a lot of instances, I feel like i’m a father figure to a lot of them.”

But unlike his mentor Jesse Forbes, he will not be challenging his students in a race.

”If I was about ten pounds lighter and ten years younger,” McKenzie said, “I would give them a challenge, but at this stage, no.”

McKenzie said if he’s allowed he would stay at Godby for the next 20 years. He wants to leave everything at the track where he started his career.

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