‘Come get these memories’ is the theme of summer road races

Extended family of late coach Tom Fitzgerald runs 5K in Rehoboth
May 15, 2018

Coach Fitzgerald - The T-shirts were everywhere: “In Memory of Huriah Thomas Fitzgerald III. 1946-2015.” The extended network of family and friends gathered May 13 in Rehoboth for the SPF 5K Run at the Beach for Melanoma to celebrate and honor the memory of Coach Fitz, who was, in fact, a legend in Laurel, a man highly revered by those who coached with and against him. Fitz coached 11 individual state champions, and somewhere during his reign, his was the only school to pin a loss on Smyrna. The Laurel crew of coaches back then included personal friends of mine, like Paul Kmetz, Vic Hrebian, Scott Morgan, Mike Norton and others. Fitz was the fiery brand, wild man from a distance coach, but I never heard a friend tell a Fitz story without a smile of admiration on his face. I have been asked by coaches and athletes from other sports, “What is with you always writing and taking photos of runners?” A fair question asked. I answer that there are so many life stories embedded in each race – I call it contiguous community contagiousness. It’s why the cat swats and chases a ball of yarn – because it’s fun – and just to see how it unravels. 

Pond Walk/Run - Good people make hard jobs look easy. That is glaringly obvious each spring at the Blockhouse Pond walk/run, where students from the Sussex Consortium program – nearly 400 – gather for a picnic of boiled hot dogs and potato chips. There is no greater feeling than helping a child who really needs your help; that is rewarding, but the day-to-day job is tough. An autistic teenager smiles and offers his hand saying, “I remember Fredman,” you gently caress and say, “How are you doing?” The moment is big. It takes a lot to reach out and trust – the teachers and support staff have gotten kids to levels many take for granted. The morning is a “unified experience,” a “We are the World” coming together. Parents of all children appreciate it when good people help their kids. It’s cliché that it takes a village, but that is the quintessential truth.     

Gabe Kapler - I watched a Phillies postgame press conference May 13 after the Phillies held off the Mets for a 4-2 win. Rookie Manager Gabe Kapler was a positive presence – a great voice, a concise delivery and called reporters by name. That anxiety-free interaction is something that is mostly missing from the media room after games. The coaches, players and media mostly seem tired of the same old routine. But that is where the money is, and you have to bring it like every day is game day. Kapler may be the sports world’s biggest poser, but so far, I like the guy. By the way, the Nationals are back after sweeping the Diamondbacks in Arizona, while the Phils are heading into Baltimore for a series. Manager Buck Showalter, 61, who previously managed the Yankees, Diamondbacks and Rangers and had $14 million in the bank, also gives great postgame conferences. Buck is like the Professor of Perspective, and if the O’s don’t level to .500, he’ll be underwater, home in the bonus room reading books.   

Snippets - “It’s time for teams to step up,” except this ain’t no step class. I’m talking about sports where the other team is also supposed to step up and play back with the intent of stealing your magic and breaking your heart. In the land of one and done, some team is leaving with a fork in their collective carcass. OK, with that all out of the way, don’t forget to have fun out there, as state tournament season is peeking over the horizon line. Kenny Riedel was the announcer for the weekend’s Henlopen Conference track championships, and they could never pay Kenny what he’s worth, so they didn’t, but they invited him back for next year. After the Pond Walk May 11, I was tagged for expertise by association while sitting under the medical tent. A teenage level student asked me, “Will you take my blood pressure? I think I’m going to pass out.” I told him, “Go ahead and pass out; whatever I tell you isn’t going to help.” Nurse Bobbie Redefer was there and said, ”Oh, stop it,” and took care of the young man. I have the comic gene where the caregiver gene was supposed to go, and I have the nun handprints on my face to prove it. I’m out like a waterspout. Go on now, git!