Saturday, May 24, 2008


Yesterday morning, David and I went to Dr. Phillips Elementary School at the invitation of Betsy Riccardi, the wife of my coach Brooks Johnson. Betsy and I go waaay back. While Brooks was the head coach at Stanford while I was there, Betsy was actually my long jump coach. She saw me through the most trying of times to the most triumphant. From gaining too much weight, let's just say it was more than the freshman 15 (can you say junk in the trunk, with a capital J!), to losing the weight to being two-time NCAA champion. She and I would travel to meets, sometimes just the two of us and during that period of time we became more than coach and athlete, we became friends.

So last week when she called and asked whether David and I would be willing to come to her Elementary school to talk to a group of third graders, it was a done deal before she could even finish the question. We had a fantastic time! I hadn't spoken to that age group in quite a while, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Suffice to say, the experience superceded my expectations. The kids were really inquisitive and asked all kinds of questions.

Dave showed them how high the hurdle is that he runs over, I showed them how far my personal record is and they saw video of both us competing. They also did a presentation for us where they told us about the ancient Olympics and how it originated as war games - the javelin was used as a weapon, the long jump was so that the warriors could jump over moats that surrounded the castles, the shot put was used in the catapult, pole vaulting was used to get over surrounding walls, the marathon was so that information could be transported from one town to another. I learned something too, because I never knew all of this.

We signed quite a few autographs, ate lunch in the cafeteria and then had to escape, Michael Jackson style, in a rush because we started getting ambushed!! It was pretty funny. All in all, it was a good day. I didn't realize it at the time just how much energy kids require because when I got back home, I think I fell asleep on the couch within 5 minutes, LOL!

It was definitely my pleasure to help Betsy out in any way I could and should she ask again, next year or whenever, I would gladly render my services again.


Anonymous said...

That was nice of you two. Shoot, I learned something too...didn't know all of that about acient Olympics.

I'm sure the kids will remember those minutes that two gold-medal Olympians (smile) spent with them.

LOL @ the visual of y'all being ambushed by third graders. With all of the steriods and hormones they put in food nowadays, I probably would've ran for my life too.

Malibu said...

Awww that's so sweet!! I love other people's kids!! =) It sounds like they had a great time!! I'm glad you enjoyed yourself too!!!

Mizrepresent said...

That was so inspiring and lovely. I love talking with children. I visited 3 schools in Feb, speaking about writing and they just made me feel so good... their questions were great and the energy was wonderful. I think visiting schools to speak about our experiences is one of the best things we can ever do. Kudo's lady!

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

good for them and I know you placed SPECIAL attention to staying in school

Akshay said...

Thats interesting piece of information on Olympics... I am planning to start some Theater classes for kids in my neighborhood.. I think sometimes they may ask questions which may have a deeper meaning and that makes you think...It's fun to be with kids!!

Anonymous said...

Gotta love a class full of little kids. They are usually more receptive to gaining new knowledge and I am sure that you all had a great time passing that information on to them.

:::Marcus LANGFORD:::