Destined to become a farmer, a divine intervention (my Mother‘s insistence) I go the “City” rather than the “Country” high school. This made all the difference in my life. It was a difficult transition from a two room elementary school with outhouses, a steel tornado shelter, and hitching posts for students’ horses to a three story school with more than two teachers, and real girls! Best of all they had a boys gymnastics team which I “stumbled” into. The gymnastics team led me to travel to exotic places outside of Nebraska, like Dayton, Ohio.
It was in Dayton that our four person Omaha YMCA team was second to the powerhouse West Side Y ,in NYC, with Abie Grossfeld as their leader. Also competing was Jack Ryder. Our paths would cross many times thereafter. Our leader and main scorer was the 1 st of the great Nebraska U. gymnasts, Bruce Riley, also my mentor and original scuba diving partner. It was also in Dayton I witnessed a death on high bar. Now all of my teammates know why I was such a wuss on HB.
Winning the Nebraska state championship in All-Around, Horse and P.Bars, I had my ticket to another exotic city, Tallahassee.
It was there I learned to smash beer cans on my forehead (Lennart) and some of the things you say to girls to make them like you (Miles), and how to say in Spanish “You are the Most Beautiful Girl in the World” , and to light farts. (Fernando). I also learned a high”V” (Miroslav) how to iron socks (Gusic), and a Russian Moore (Raphael). I learned how to find arrowheads (Harmer), how to bowl (Carmine Regna), how to be a good teacher (Don Holder), and a good parent (Don & Connie). Joe Taylor taught me to drink beer responsibly, appreciate Swing Music and to never cover my body in gold glycerin and try to work rings! Fadigan taught me to be cool, Chick to be humble, and Leigh Heisinger helped me learn how to get the last breath out of an empty scuba tank! Wayne taught me adversity could have a touch of humor, and Mike (Mann) that perseverance will get you where you want to be. Miles helped me develop lots of respect for underwater caves and SNAKES! Jon Culbertson taught me a valuable lesson in child rearing…..it is probably not a good idea to play a trombone fanfare in the bathroom after your child goes to the potty by himself for the first time!
Joe Taylor helped me land my first real job where I ultimately met my first wife Carol. (Jack always says introduce your spouse as your first wife….”keeps ‘em on their toes” Carol was the first female “professional” level hire at the State agency where Joe & I worked. One of Carol’s first comments to me was “nice pants” We now have two great children in their 30’s, married and living in Atlanta. (not to each other of course) Notice I didn’t mention any of the girls in my Tallahassee learning years, makes my first wife jealous!
After working with Joe for about 7 years, I decided to go back to graduate school at FSU where I coached the then club-team for a couple of years. Just as I was finishing, Lyle Welser of GA. Tech informed me of his impending retirement & wanted me to apply for his job at Tech. He was such a great guy! He and Doc were the pioneers of the sport in the South. In fact Ga. Tech preceded FSU as the first collegiate team in the South. When I decided to give up coaching at Tech in 1987, Tech was the last southern team (not counting Wm & Mary in VA).
Although I was hired to coach the team at Tech, I was not paid for this until much later, (when the famous football coach and AD, Bobby Dodd’s Granddaughter got into gymnastics, and I began coaching her, I started getting paid and the team got its first scholarships). I was full time on the faculty and I became Asst. Dept head my first year, and Head of the Dept. shortly thereafter. I was in charge of the PE Dept. as well as Intramurals, all club sports, and most indoor and outdoor facilities. Also during my tenure, I helped design, oversee construction, and manage a multimillion dollar recreational facility. I developed a health education course that became a graduation requirement. When I retired in 2000, I was teaching over 700 students per term. It was like trying to be Jay Leno, with power point. Also at Tech I developed the Wellness Center which was part of Student Health Services. We also planned all health and treatment services for the Olympic athletes for the 96 games, as the Olympic Village was on the Tech campus. After my retirement I taught for a term in New Zealand & got to see that beautiful country as well as diving in Tahiti .
My most fun at Ga. Tech was of course coaching. We had tough academic standards, and very limited resources, but always had a winning record . We were able to qualify 4 athletes to the NCAA’s and place fourth in the East in ‘78. I had the pleasure of coaching over 100 bright, creative, devious and fun kids during my 17 years of coaching.
Since retiring, I have taken up kayaking and kayak racing for fitness and fortune. I get to race and train at the ‘96 Olympic sprint kayak venue and was on the Lanier Kayak club team that won the Sprint National Championships this past summer. I also won two golds and two silvers in the Masters Nationals in my age category (nearly deceased)
Carol, (my first wife) who also did her undergraduate and masters at FSU, and later her Phd at GA. State continues to do executive coaching and crisis management work so that she can keep me in the style of living to which I’ve become accustomed . She learned these skills, not from college, but from living with me all of these years.”