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We Are in the Presence of Greatness

Created at 7/13/2018 11:55 AM  by Ron Knapp 
Last modified at 7/13/2018 11:55 AM  by Ron Knapp 

Submitted by Dave Smith, former Rockville HS Coach and Director of the Hartford Public High School Indoor Track & Field Invitational

With apologies to the folks who wrote scripts for M*A*S*H, the same can be said for Mr. Lindy Remigino, double Olympic gold medal winner and long-time track and field coach at Hartford Public High School.

Rightfully, so many people have placed Coach Remigino on a Mount Olympus of people who have made immeasurable contributions to the sport of high school track and field in Connecticut for more than fifty years. A place on that revered spot is reserved for only the very special people, just a small handful of very special people.

Not many of us ever have the chance to encounter true greatness, to feel its presence, to see it in action, and to be transformed by it, but the thousands of Hartford Public athletes who knew their coach also knew greatness. And therein lies his essence. Coach Remigino could walk off that mountain and spend his life striving to coach the rest of us at the ground level to be better people. And through it all he deflected the spotlight away from himself and shined it on his athletes who always were the focus of his attention.

When I was a lowly East Hartford High School sophomore, out for cross country for the first time, wondering what I got myself into, I heard about the Hartford Public Head Coach. His name was Lindy Remigino. OK. But then my friend on the team told me he won two gold medals at the 1952 Olympics. Awe. Curiosity. Why was he coaching cross country and track at the high school level?

When I saw him at meets he wasn’t nine feet tall with a halo over his head…he was talking to his runners and other coaches, and if I didn’t know better, I’d have thought he was just another coach. So wrong.

From time to time I wondered about those sacred medals. So precious. How does a winner protect such valuables?

So, flash forward many years, and Lindy asked me to take over as Meet Director at the indoor Hartford Invitation Track meet at Wesleyan, and I’m at his home in Newington, CT to discuss details and for him to answer any questions I may have. He’s on the telephone talking with another Olympian, and I’m there thinking what can I say to this man? His lovely wife June and I are chatting in their den, and I asked her about those gold medals. I said to her, “You must keep them in a safe deposit box because they are so valuable.” She said, “No, they’re right over there on the mantle.” Over there on the mantle? Just…right over there? Feeling like a little kid, I said, “May I see them.” She said, “Sure. They’re in that little box there.”

So, I opened the little box and there they were. Real Olympic gold medals.

Take me now.

As I held them in my hand, I flashed back to my early high school years when these nuggets were only ten years old. To all the times I watched Coach Remigino in action, and to wonder what it must be like to have earned them. And I’m holding them in my hand! Not wanting to appear too awe-struck, after what seemed to be only a few seconds, I returned them to their place on his mantle, and later, when he got off the phone, while he was preparing me to direct the Hartford Invitational, I might have heard something he said.

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Editor’s Note: The final Hartford Public High School Indoor Track & Field Invitational on January 8, 2011 held at Bacon Field House - Wesleyan University in Middletown was renamed the 68th Lindy J Remigino Indoor Track & Field Invitational in honor of former meet director Lindy Remigino.

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