St. Norbert Hall of Fame Track and Field Coach Pliner Succumbs to Cancer at 74

From Sports Information Director, January 10, 2013 | Men's Track & Field
by Dan Lukes, dan.lukes@snc.edu, (920) 403-4077

DE PERE - Terry Pliner, a fixture in the Green Bay-area track and field scene who coached track and field at St. Norbert College for 18 years, died Jan. 7 following a battle with cancer.

Pliner, 74, was the head men's track and field coach at St. Norbert from 1980-89, and was an assistant from 1974-79. He also was the head women's track and field coach from 1985 to 1991.

"Terry was a pioneer and a legend when it came to track and field in the Green Bay area," said Jerry Feldhausen, who coached cross country for 23 years at St. Norbert and also served as a track assistant under Pliner. "We had a great deal of fun coaching together."

Pliner, a 1994 inductee into the St. Norbert College Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame, led the Green Knights to Midwest Conference championships in both indoor and outdoor track and field every year from 1986 to 1991. The 12 MWC titles are St. Norbert's only conference championships in track and field. Pliner's athletes collected a total 92 individual or relay indoor and outdoor conference championships after St. Norbert joined the MWC for track and field in 1984.

St. Norbert's first national champion, Laura Salm, claimed the NCAA Division III indoor high jump title under Pliner's tutelage in March 1991.

Pliner, a Stoughton native and a 1960 graduate of Carroll University, competed for the Pioneers and then formed the Fox Valley Track Club in 1963. He remained active the rest of his life in track and field. At the time of his passing, he was an assistant coach at Notre Dame Academy in Green Bay. Prior to coaching at St. Norbert, Pliner coached at Notre Dame's forerunner -- Green Bay Premontre -- as well as St. Agnes Grade School.

"He couldn't leave coaching," Feldhausen said. "After he left St. Norbert he told me he needed a break. His break only lasted a few months because when Notre Dame Academy came asking he was right back at it and still coaching there 20 years later."

In August 2012, he and three other individuals set an American record in the shuttle hurdle relay for the 70-79 age group at the U.S. National Masters Track and Field Championships in Lisle, Ill. He also finished second in the pentathlon in his age group. Pliner won his first masters national championship in 1977, winning the 200-meter run in the 35-39 age group.

"He would always say he was running out of age groups to participate in, but the great thing about masters track and field is that there is always a new age group awaiting you where you will be the youngest," Feldhausen said.

Pliner is survived by his wife of 52 years, Virginia; and three children, Todd, Shelley Schumacher and Lynne Van Hollen, who is also a member of the school's athletics Hall of Fame. All three of his children competed for him at St. Norbert.

"He cherished being able to coach his three kids," Feldhausen said.

Friends may call at Blaney Funeral Home, 1521 Shawano Ave., in Green Bay, from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday. Friends may also call at Bethany United Methodist Church, 1110 Echo Lane in Ashwaubenon, from 10 to 11 a.m. Monday. The funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at the church, with Rev. Randall Richter officiating. Burial will be in Fort Howard Memorial Park. To send online condolences, please go to http://www.blaneyfuneralhome.com.

Donations may be made to The Froedtert Cancer Center/Melanoma Research or Bethany United Methodist Church, and may be sent to Blaney Funeral Home.