Words can’t adequately describe the level of excellence that Dale Bateman has had in his running career.
In 1975, Dale Bateman won the Naval Academy Athletic Association Award, the highest athletic award at the Naval Academy given to midshipmen of the graduating class by the athletic committee, due to his running achievements in college. Bateman holds the freshman 2-mile record at the Naval Academy (9:11), and he held the 800 record for 38 years (from 1974 until 2012).
Bateman’s competitiveness was evident early at Laurel High School in Maryland. He was the state champion in the mile, half marathon and 1,000 yards. In his senior cross-country year, his team won state. He went on to nationals and was fourth in the half marathon. Bateman has run 12 marathons; his marathon PR is 2:22 in Iwakuni, Japan.
His innate competitiveness is matched only by his passion for the high school student athletes that he has coached. Bateman started coaching at Bloomingdale High School in 1991 and retired from the Navy as a lieutenant commander in 1994. He became Bloomingdale’s head track coach in 2017 and then its head cross-country coach in 2019. In 2017, Bateman was inducted into Bloomingdale High School’s athletic hall of fame.
This year, Bateman not only took the largest number of Bloomingdale athletes in school history to the state track meet, but he was also awarded Hillsborough County Federal Division Western Conference Track Coach of the Year.
After 32 years as a high school coach, Bateman retired after the 2023 track season.
If you ask him, his two greatest athletic achievements are winning the Naval Academy Athletic Association Award and coaching high school athletes to success.
His coaching philosophy embodied a goal for every runner to consistently improve no matter their talent level. Bateman is enthusiastic about the state placers he coached and the athletes he coached that started off struggling to run a mile but ended up loving the sport, made varsity and then went to districts and regionals.
“Coaching at the high school level, you want the kids to have a positive experience, … achieve goals and not have a bad outlook on running,” Bateman said. “It’s a process. They don’t know their potential until you show them.”
Bloomingdale High School teacher Jennifer Beach was coached by Bateman when she was a student at Bloomingdale and then coached with him for 21 years.
“I finished my last season of coaching involvement this past year and it gave me time to reflect on all the lessons I’ve learned from him. I’ve learned that the sport of running is a metaphor for life. With hard work and persistence, personal bests are always possible. Life has its ups and downs, like race times, but how you work through it determines your character,” Beach said.
Bloomingdale’s athletic director, Sara Bogue, said Bateman’s retirement is a huge loss for Bloomingdale.
“Coach Bateman is a legend at Bloomingdale. He has dedicated many years of service to our student athletes, families and community. As a hall of fame coach, he has built one of the best running programs in our district with many state qualifiers in both cross country and track and field,” Bogue said.
Bateman has mixed emotions about retiring.
“You know, it’s time. It’s relief and then regret … because of what I am leaving behind. I am leaving somebody behind whose times far surpass mine as a sophomore in high school. I’ve told him, ‘You’ve already surpassed me.’ So going on from here. I want to see even better things than me,” Bateman said.
Regardless of what happens with the up-and-coming runners, Bateman’s inspiration is long-lasting at Bloomingdale High School. He leaves a legacy that is the combination of excelling both as an excellent runner, a winning coach and an inspiration to hundreds.