Web Exclusives: Alumni Spotlight

January 24, 2007:

ALUMNI CONNECTIONS: Friends of Robert Myslik ’90
Running for Rob

Marine Corps Marathon

Alumni and friends of the late Robert Myslik ’90 ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., in October 2004. From the left are: Jim Simon, Dave Brandt, Sara Beck, Kevin Kavanagh ’90, John Woodward (Myslik’s stepbrother), Susan Myslik (Rob’s widow, in front), Jon Luff ’91, Kris Hansen Wammer *99, Greg Wammer, Bill Brewster ’91, and Hillary Liss ’91. (Courtesy Susan Myslik W’90)

Every fall for the last three years, friends and family members of Robert Myslik ’90 have run, sweated, and cheered in his honor. A Princeton soccer player and assistant coach, Myslik died Jan. 21, 2003, in a car accident. Since then Princeton alumni have run marathons and helped organize other tributes to keep his memory alive and to raise funds for his passions — education and soccer.

A fierce competitor, avid reader, and dog lover, Myslik ran two marathons in his lifetime. For nine years he taught English and coached soccer at The Hun School, a private preparatory school in Princeton, before moving to teach and coach in Montana three years before he died. Those who knew him say that he inspired students and friends to do what they thought they could not do, be it read a complex novel or perform athletically.

Myslik’s widow, Susan, who was pregnant with their daughter, Maggie, now 3, when Rob died, organized the first “Team Myslik.” About 30 runners including five alumni ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., in October 2004. About a dozen people ran as a tribute to Myslik in the November 2005 Philadelphia Marathon and in the October 2006 Chicago Marathon. To date, the marathons have raised about $40,000 for scholarships for low-income students. In addition, each June Myslik’s Montana friends raise funds for the youth soccer association in Missoula through a soccer tournament. Msylik’s father, former Princeton athletic director Robert Myslik ’61, has refereed the tournaments.

Whether participating in the athletic events or helping to organize them, the alumni and friends look forward to sharing “Rob stories.” When Walker Wright ’00, whom Myslik taught and coached at Hun and Princeton, trained for the Philadelphia Marathon, he would think about Myslik’s influence in the classroom. At Hun, says Wright, Myslik was “the young teacher that lots of students wanted to be around.” Wright is helping to establish the Rob Myslik Faculty Fellowship, an endowment for young teachers at Hun pursuing graduate degrees.

Princeton soccer coach James Barlow ’91, who played with Myslik at Princeton, keeps Myslik’s memory alive on Princeton’s soccer fields. Each year he gives out the Rob Myslik Award to the player who most possesses Myslik’s “passion for life, fiery competitiveness, unwavering honesty, and selfless generosity.”

These events benefit not only people who knew Myslik, but also those who didn’t. Myslik’s nephews — twin boys of his sister, Melora Balson ’88 — were born a week before Myslik died. Although they never met their uncle, they have some connection. Almost daily the boys wear T-shirts from the soccer tournament. “My little boys will often fight if there is only one clean Uncle Robby shirt,” says Balson, who ran the Philadelphia Marathon.

Wright says, “I’ll always remember before the Philadelphia Marathon Sue said, ‘The reason we’re here is not because he died, it’s because he lived and touched so many people in different ways.’”P

By K.F.G.