Your Stories: Missy Kane and Jim Bemiller

5:10 PM, Aug 8, 2012   |    comments
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One of East Tennessee's most popular Olympians is Missy Kane. You see her face on everything short of a cereal box. She never sits down, just ask her husband who has quite an Olympic story himself.

It's a family affair. Exercise, fitness, really anything outdoors. Missy Kane, her husband, Jim Bemiller, and daughter, Gracie, do this whenever they get the chance, but it's Missy who drives them.

"Keeping up with her kind of keeps me in shape," said Bemiller.

As a young girl, Missy wasn't into any one sport. "I was a tom boy, but I never really did, it shows how old I am. I never did athletics per say. I went to a girl's school played basketball. I was a cheerleader for a while, but I never did track because they didn't have a track team," said Missy.

Track didn't come until she got to college at University of Tennessee and decided to take her mama's advice.

"My mother said, 'Get involved in something worthwhile, stay focused and do the right thing'," said Missy.

She joined the track team. "Wasn't very good, sprinter for a year, wised up 800. Finally the mile, captain of the team, but never great," said Missy.

After graduation she stayed in it, teaching and coaching at Central. She got her masters at UT. All the while she was working towards her goal to become an Olympian. Her story is not much different than Olympic Swimmer Davis Tarwater. She ran in the trials and made the team as an alternate.

"I got a call a week later cause Mary Decker, who was the big name world champion, reigning world champion for the U.S. She decided just to concentrate on the 3000 meters and not the 1500 so I got a call and actually got to compete and go to the Olympics," said Missy.

She was on track to run the 1500 in the Olympics! "How one moment of either pushing for something or giving up can make a world of difference in your life," said Missy.

One moment from the 1984 games in Los Angeles stands out. "I walked in and I was right behind Mary Lou Retton and she was short so I could see out very well and seeing the people in the crowd at the coliseum and seeing all the USA flags and people with tears in their eyes," said Missy.

She came home from the Olympics and started her work with Channel 10, coached track and field at UT and met her future husband, Jim Bemiller also a UT Track and Field coach.

"I loved to set people up so I used to try and set him up," said Missy. She set herself up, instead and they've been together ever since.

Bemiller also has quite a story. "I played all kinds of sports. In high school I played football, ran track and the coach needed somebody to pole vault," said Bemiller. He also did the pole vault in college at Miami of Ohio then he started coaching. In fact, that's how he put himself through law school at UT.

Even when he became a full-time attorney, he still coached on the side.

"I still enjoyed coaching so it became more of an extreme hobby at that point," said Bemiller.

A rewarding hobby. He coached Silver Medalist Lawrence Johnson in the 2000 Olympics and Tim Mack in Greece.

"He's just amazing. He set the Olympic record and jumped higher than anybody's ever done in an Olympic competition. He won a gold medal," said Bemiller.

Now he's coaching his daughter, Gracie, in the pole vault and their daughter, Kelsey, is following in Missy's footsteps.

"Kelsey's a Lady Vol in track and field and in cross country," said Missy.

Missy Kane and Jim Bemiller, two accomplished athletes driven by faith, fitness and family.

One of Your Stories. There's no place like this one.

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