Rest Easy, Brother

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Kevin Young

March 13, 1968 - August 9, 2019

This is a special edition of Coach’s Bulletin this week.  We are back to normal service next week, but it seems appropriate that we only focus on one thing this week - Kevin Young.

Kevin Young

Late last week, we lost a close friend and pillar of the Purple Patch community.  Long-time Purple Patch athlete and close friend, Kevin Young, was struck by a tractor trailer while riding his bike in Wisconsin.  A terrible shock and devastating loss, but we will remember Kevin with much love and with a lens of celebration for what he brought to us all.  Some context:

I launched Purple Patch in 2008 from my studio apartment in San Francisco.  For the initial years, it was me, myself, and I executing on every piece of the puzzle, from building the website, to producing the newsletter, to training athletes.  You can appreciate that it was hardly a sophisticated operation. My secret weapon was my support. In addition to Kelli, my partner in crime, I had a group of great advisers to help me stay on track and make some reasonably sensible decisions.  I also had a core group of devoted athletes who were responsible for helping develop the culture and environment of the Purple Patch team from the start. Many of these original athletes are still with Purple Patch today, all these years later. One of them was Kevin Young.  They remained as the backbone of Purple Patch and helped set the tone for the community: results-driven, serious with a wink, inclusive, and not judgmental. 

I met Kevin when he joined a presentation I gave, which focused on (you guessed it) performance in a time-starved life.  He stayed following and told me all about his persistent cramping issues and the perpetual cycle of injuries he faced. He chased a dream of completing an IRONMAN on every continent, and hopefully ridding himself of the injuries and cramps.  He wanted to do this as he strove toward another dream of early retirement from his key role at Apple Inc. You can read about his remarkable contribution to Apple Inc. in his obituary included below.

Over the years, Kevin became more and more immersed in the Purple Patch community, attending the very first triathlon camp we offered, then the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th….. and so on.  He swam with us, rode with us, and even ran with us before his cramps would inevitably take him down! He completed IRONMAN races in the US, Europe, South America, Asia — finally completing the dream just last year.  Always seeking to race within context of life, his mission wasn’t just to improve but to experience all of the joys of global racing and treat it as a personal journey of development and challenge. He immersed himself in the community and, beyond his athletic accomplishments, this is where he shone.  Never to seek the limelight, Kevin found massive joy in helping others. He was an active participant in support of trying to establish equity for the female professional athletes in start numbers at the World Championships; he reached out to help Gerry Rodrigues with the Tower 26 website; he was assisting Jesse Thomas with elements of the Picky Bar business; and, yes, he was a massive ongoing help and supporter to Kelli and me at Purple Patch.

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Who would have thought that one of our most treasured possessions would become a roughed up copy of my book, the Fast Track Triathlete? This particular copy got the “Kevin Young treatment.” Every single page marked up, labeled, and color coded with insights and thoughts for every category:

  • Good to Tweet

  • Better subject for Instagram

  • Should extend into a podcast

  • Develop into Evergreen content

A master's thoughts on how to take a book and bring it to life for all Purple Patch athletes.  Why? To help. We never asked. He just loved to contribute. Our guess is that it was more than 20 hours of work to deliver this roughed up book, and we look at it weekly.  It was who Kevin was.

The list of who Kevin helped goes on and on, and over the last few days, we have been stunned by the stories of how Kevin touched people, but perhaps the most simple words make up the canvas that covers all emotions:

He was just a lovely bloke.

I encourage you to read his obituary HERE, as it is a lovely extension into who he was and so many of us can only wish that we leave such a positive imprint on so many others.

Oh, and yes, Kevin did succeed in his mission for early retirement.  He finished up at Apple Inc in May. I spoke to Kevin the day prior to the accident, and while he seldom showed real emotion or shared personal joy, he happened to say something that will last with me forever:

“I am in my happy place, Matt, I am just so happy.”

Kevin, I never did cure your darn cramps.  We never did crack that nut did we? I will miss you lying on the pool deck on the 7th of 8 x 200s desperately chugging some new anti-cramp potion; the calf muscles cramping so badly that they emit sounds of a beginner trying to learn the latest rendition of Stairway to Heaven.  The whole Purple Patch community will miss it.

Rest easy, brother.

Matt, Kelli, and the entire Purple Patch Family

Kim Kisslo