Now I'm Running Alone!
"I'm going ahead and see if I can break four hours," Barry yelled.
"Go get 'em," I replied quickly, not wasting any air.
It was the 1979 Fiesta Bowl Marathon and Barry, Barry's brother Jim and I were attempting to conquer our first marathon. We made a pact that we would run together for the whole 26.2 miles from Cave Creek to Scottsdale Community College. At the 15-mile mark, Barry broke that agreement. Jim was a little miffed at his brother. I was just trying to survive.
Within the next three miles, Jimmy and I separated too.
I was running alone.
That's how I feel now!
I met Barry Sollenberger in 1974, just as I was graduating from college. When he learned of my interest in sports and my writing background, he immediately recruited me to work with him on his Arizona Prep Magazine. We became friends, attended some football and basketball games together and occasionally went running by the Arizona Biltmore.
In the spring of 1978, we became business partners. Our first account was the Arizona Interscholastic Association State Championship Programs. He and I became one of the most prolific sports publishing teams in the West. Over the next 27 years, either individually or together, we published high school and college sports programs, magazines and/or record books in Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Illinois and Connecticut. We worked with all of the Pac-10 schools - a total of 17 universities altogether. We won many awards for the quality of our publications, although we weren't always financially successful with everything we tried. Our first AIA Wrestling State Championship Program won Best in the Nation. After the printer and rights fees were paid, we lost $1,000 for our troubles. But we fought through the tough financial times together and never stopped believing in our work.
The one publication nearest to Barry's heart was this one. Just before midnight on the evening of June 22, 2005, he finished his 5A Football Preview. On the morning of June 23rd - his 60th birthday - Barry got up and went running with his dog. When he returned to his townhouse, he had a massive heart attack and passed away. He did not suffer. A neighbor found him several hours later.
At the time of Barry's death, he had completed about 80% of this year's Phoenix Metro Football Magazine.
With the assistance of Barry's family and the Arizona Interscholastic Association, my brother Dan, my son Andy and I have gotten Barry's 35th Annual edition to press. For those of you who know Barry's work and read this magazine from cover to cover, you'll notice it's not quite up to par with Barry's recent issues. We did our best to finish the publication according to Barry's vision, but certain sections were a real challenge. We apologize if we slighted anyone.
No one I know can believe Barry's gone. How will the AIA replace its sports information director? How will the State of Arizona replace it designated prep historian? Will Barry's brothers be okay? What will Ron Cosner do when the Friday night football games begin? How will this impact George Allen? Harold Slemmer?
Dean Visser? And so many others? What will I do?
I'll just keep running for as long as I can. You don't replace a Barry Sollenberger. You're grateful that he was part of your life - for the everyday experiences you shared. And you realize what a lucky person you are.