I was schooled in sportsmanship by my father and a series of great coaches that started with Tom Farley at Pomeroy Elementary School in Pittsfield, Massachusetts during the 50s, then Rudy Benedetti at Pittsfield High School in the 60s, and culminated with Hank Eichin at the Air Force Academy in the late 60s and early 70s.
Coach Eichin passed away on September 8th after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease and joins Coach Farley and Coach Benedetti in God’s Hall of Fame.
Coach Eichin gave me the best advice I ever received in athletics. Like so many of my Academy classmates, I was a multi-sport athlete. After my sophomore soccer season at USAFA, Coach Eichin called me into his office and said, “Geno, you can be a good soccer player and a good pole vaulter, but if you want to be great, you must consider choosing one or the other.” I followed his advice, chose soccer, and one year later was an All-American.
I maintained contact with Coach Eichin until his advancing disease made it impractical. I last saw him at a wedding in North Carolina in 2009.
This one’s for you, Coach….