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Mickey Yardis '77: Running a lifelong passion

Clockwise from bottom center, Mickey Yardis, his wife, Peggy, and sons Mike and Matt all help out in the shop.

You might say that Mickey Yardis '77 literally ran right into his career as owner of Threads and Treads, a Greenwich, Conn., store specializing in cross-training shoes and apparel. A member of Lehigh's track and cross country teams from 1973-77, running has always been an integral part of Yardis' life.

"I was always chasing after my big brother as a kid. Running was just how I kept up," he says. His childhood struggle to fit in with the older boys during neighborhood football games in his hometown of Chappaqua, N.Y., developed into a lifelong passion -- a passion that ultimately led to a profession.

"There was an explosion of sneaker stores in the '80s," he says. "There was a real desire for the running shoe. I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to turn my love of running into a career."

Yardis got his foot in the door, so to speak, with the help of Elliott Michael, a fellow Lehigh classmate who opened an Athletic Attic franchise in Danbury, Conn., in 1979. Michael asked Yardis to be the store manager -- an offer he could not refuse.

"I managed the Athletic Attic for about a year," recalls Yardis. "Then I decided to open my own athletic store in Greenwich."

Threads and Treads, which recently celebrated its 25th year in business, is one of the most successful athletic apparel stores in the Greenwich area.

In addition to being known for his store, Yardis has received community recognition for the numerous local competitions he sponsors each year. From the BMW Greenwich Cup, a nine-event spring triathlon series, to the Tour de Greenwich, an extensive bicycle race, the competitions are a happy union between town pride and Yardis' love of athleticism.

"About once a month, there's some kind of event that draws customers into my store and brings the local area together," Yardis says. "I'm really lucky. I live and work in the same town. I know everyone who walks into my store by name. I get to do what I love -- and the best part is, I can wear jeans and running shoes to work!"

Yardis originally planned to join the U.S. Air Force upon graduation from Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua. He says he lasted just 10 days before realizing the Air Force was not for him, but he was later recruited for Lehigh's track team by former coach John Covert in 1973.

"Running was everything for me and my teammates while we were in college," Yardis says. "We were very intent on winning every meet."

Yardis spent his four years at Lehigh living in off-campus apartments with his teammates. "I'll never forget freshman year," he recalls. "A bunch of track guys and I lived in this tiny apartment on Laufer Street with $120-a-month rent." Chuckling, he adds, "I would imagine the rent has gone up a little bit since then!"

When he isn't managing his store or spending time with his wife, Peggy, and sons Mike, 25, and Matt, 22, Yardis enjoys running and practicing yoga.

"I always do some kind of exercise in the morning before heading to work," he explains. "I'll go for a trail jog or a yoga hike -- I always have my yoga mat on hand."

Yardis is one of the fortunate few who have been able to combine a passion with a career. It has been said that a true passion inevitably finds its way into all aspects of one's life. Perhaps it is no coincidence, then, that "Laufer," the street where Yardis spent his first year at Lehigh, is German for "runner."

--Maura Kutner

Lehigh Alumni Bulletin
Spring 2005

Posted on Wednesday, June 22, 2005

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