I took a recruiting trip to NCState in highschool a few years ago and Julia was my host, and now I compete with her. Well, not really, behind her is more like it. But she let me read this essay she had written for a class about her coach, and I asked her if i could have a copy and I just found it again. So here is the first part. I gpot tired of typing
Rollie Geiger scarcely makes eye contact before muttering
something about having too much to do and turning his back. Thankfully, I’ve
been warned of his eccentric behavior and stand patiently as he inspects his latest
notes scrawled on an index card. He exudes a mad scientist aura, his hair flat on
one side and standing on end on the other, the remnants of his last head scratching
brainstorm session. Obviously absorbed, his back hunches and his neck cranes
toward the card, as if physical strain could somehow untangle the complexities of
whatever new theory is etched on the 4x6.
To a casual viewer, standing in silence with a man’s back to you may seem
mundane, but I know of the giants who have stood in just the position I stand.
All-Americans, National champions, Olympians; they have all stood in anticipation
of Coach Geiger's next winning strategy. The track that encircles us now is in
fact legendary, the house that Geiger built, stomping grounds of champions. No
wonder the guru title that follows this intense man.
He stands motionless just long enough for me to grow uncomfortable with the
silence. I take a loud breath just to fill the dead air and simultaneously he
springs into action. He grabs his pencil from behind his ear and, †as if his
thoughts just took the form of escaping butterflies, scrawls down another
illegible idea. He holds the card back, an artist examining his work. Apparently
satisfied, he tucks his file into his waistband and his pencil back behind his
ear. His head cocks up towards the sky as if reacquainting himself with the
world, and then over his shoulder back at me.
“Yeah,” he says expectantly. His tone makes me feel as if I am now required
to say something earth shattering to deserve his attention. “Well, uh, Coach,”
I stammer, intimidated and feeling a bit rushed. I realize my window of time in
Coach Geiger's day is quickly ticking away. I suddenly become very aware of the
sweat trickling down my neck into my clammy collar. I mumble something about a
school assignment, needing to interview him, being interested in all he’s done
with the program. I barely hear myself speaking, such is the poignancy of his
preoccupation. He hasn't heard a word I’ve said.
As my mindless rambling continues, Coach Geiger's head turns to follow two female
runners glide by. Their sinewy muscles ripple slightly as they glide over the red
rubber track. A smart clip clip clip accompanies the steady deep breathing. clip
clip clip hhhhhhhh clip clip clip whoooooo clip clip clip hhhhhhh. Both of their
heads bow in concentrated exhaustion, compact strides belying little of the effort
revealed by their faces. As they cross the finish line they simultaneously cross
their arms over their bodies and two small beeps sound as they stop their watches.
Immediately after recording their effort, their bodies change remarkably. The neat,
effortless strides turn into a hurricane of gangly arms and legs, battling the
momentum they’ve spent the last couple turns of the track collecting.
Coach Geiger obviously has no time for me. Our meeting is yet another pesky buzz
in his ear. Geiger is not a man for small talk and meaningless pleasantries. He
cuts to the point and when something does not interest or concern him, he takes no
part in it. Our appointment is not his most pressing concern.
Again, I expected this. There are two types of absent mindedness. There is the
sort that simply refuses to grab hold of a thought out of laziness, and so watches
ideas simply stroll out of sight. The other is quite different, for there are so
many thoughts swarming about between the ears that it is almost impossible to
isolate any particular one. The latter of the two clearly is embodied by Coach
Geiger. Interval times from the past 30 years take up a lot of cerebral space.
“1:48, slow it down a little.”