I met Coach Ricca the summer of 1992, exactly half my lifetime ago. I had just graduated from eighth grade. My individual mile time averaged out near the low five minute single digit area code. I ran three times a day. A three mile skid in the morning. A vigorous hill workout under the hammer of midday sun at noon. And a pleasant 4-6 mile trod at night. I kept tallies of my daily workout evaluations, performed squats and dips in my bedroom to the music of Guns-n-roses and Nirvana, plastered note cards heralding never give up maxims all over my bedroom wall. I can still remember how the earth felt that summer and spring. Can still remember the grainy taste of caffeine splashed inside my lips, trying to be more adult and not scowl at the then revolting taste. I remember the the cool melody of the sky at 5:30 in the morning when pastel shades of light pink drip into a morning haze of copper in the east when street lamps fizzle into a pre-dawn hush as I kicked my way into the future scaling the latitude and longitude of the city that had reared me for the first decade and a half of my life. It was the summer of the '92 Barcelona Olympics. I pushed myself harder. Poetically plotted how I would seduce fellow precocious Olympian Kim Zmeskal (it was hard to write a poem that rhymes with her last name). I mapped out a trajectory of personal goals set for myself over the next four years; how I would be damned if I wasn't a world class athlete. If I wasn't employing the calcium of my bones to their optimal capacity I simply did not wish to be.
At night I capitulated to the caps of both my knees, the dual bony knobs functioning as joints for the plants of my legs; the vessels that would ferry me in my quest for glory. I prayed with the fervor of saints angels that my own biased waspish variation of a God would assist the fuck out of me.
It was that summer I met Coach Ricca.