From One Legend to Another

Robin Lingle ’60 was one of the finest runners in Stony Brook’s illustrious history. In 1959 he went undefeated in competition, placing 1st in the Ivy League Championship, the Eastern States Championship, and a dual meet with the West Point Plebes. Lingle ran under the tutelage of the legendary coach Marvin W. Goldberg who instilled in him not only how to become an elite runner, but what it meant to be a strong man of God. Robin later returned to Stony Brook in 1981 and received the coaching baton from Marvin, beginning a legendary career of his own. On the merits of his incredible accomplishments, Robin was a part of the inaugural class of the Stony Brook Hall of Fame in 1995. The following is a speech given by Marvin Goldberg at Robin’s induction ceremony during Homecoming Weekend on October 14, 1995:

The dean of America’s sportswriters, Grantland Rice, one wrote: “When the Great Scorer comes to write against your name, he marks not whether you won or lost but how you played the game.”

I feel very honored to nominate Robin Lingle to the Stony Brook Hall of Fame. My presentation is based entirely on how Robin played the game, not on his victories and defeats.

Robin, like the Israelites rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, had a mind to work. First, Robin would always prepare for competitive running by working hard weeks in advance of the scheduled event. He was the type who, instead of leaving the track to get a well-deserved shower, would frequently stay for one or more practice rounds.

In order to make the Penn Relay team it appeared it would be necessary to run 51 seconds for 440 yards. How could he do it? His absolute best for 220 yards was 26 seconds. So that 52 seconds would require super effort, but Robin had a mind to work and to everyone’s surprise he did run 51 seconds as the leadoff man on a victorious Penn Relay team.

Secondly, Robin would always set goals for himself and like St. Paul he would press toward the mark. In Robin’s day no one had run the 2.5-mile Van Cortlandt Park cross country course in 13 minutes. So Robin set his goal to run 13:00 or better. Ultimately a strong head wind negated the record effort, but when the dust had settled Robin Lingle was the Eastern States Cross Country Champion.

Thirdly, as Robin matured physically he also matured spiritually. He learned that he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him. How far could he go no one knew, but his speed and strength increased rapidly and the championships came–several Big Eight Titles and a NCAA Championship–the best in the United States. It was then he began to knock at the door of destiny. Robin became the best 1,000 yard runner in the world. Only Peter Snell of New Zealand, Olympic Champion and world mile record holder, had ever run faster. The Lord works in wondrous ways.  From an ordinary 26-second 220 novice he made a champion among champions.

Robin, we salute you for the way you played the game. Your dependence on the Lord, your goal setting and your willingness to work showed us how to compete and how to live our lives in the Lord’s service. You are loved, admired and respected for the way you played the game. It is a remarkable record–“When the Great Scorer comes to write against your name, he marks not whether you won or lost but how you played the game.”


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