Back when gym class was more than just one and a half credits required for graduation, back before you ran the countless laps of the mile, back then gym class was what everyone looked forward to in the long days of childhood.
Before gym class was a "class," it was a place you went to get away from the tortures of the classroom, leaving behind the desks and chalkboards. A full hour of fun and freedom, worrying only about how many pins the other team had standing and what you could do to knock them over.
Those were the days when the gym teacher was thought of as more than a teacher, as a king, and Coach Reilly Richey reigned supreme. Never a dull moment was spent while under his command. He was and forever will be the leader of more than an army, but of a family with the football field as his battleground.
I knew Coach Richey, but not on the football field. I knew him in the gym and on the playground where we played capture the flag. I knew Coach Richey from the $5 Friday Fun Nights with the big pit filled with mats so that we could jump into it; and the roller skating races, four laps around the gym competing for popcorn and bragging rights until the next big race usually a month away.
But this was nothing compared to the end-of-the year field day, two days set aside for nothing but fun and games. The weather was always in our favor. We didn't play your everyday games. Coach Richey knew better. Those games were simply a step below what we played. Instead of baseball, football, and basketball, we had champs of the mat, and entire classes would compete in an all out tug-of-war competition.
What I remember best about the good ol' days were the times when the entire gym was turned into a giant obstacle course of tunnels, high jumps, zig-zags, and my personal favorite, the climbing net, stretching from ceiling to floor and 15 feet wide. It was always a race to see who could get up and over the fastest.
I have only scratched the surface in telling personal stories of my experiences with Coach Richey. I'm not the only person who could go on for pages about Mr. Richey and how he was not only a great gym teacher but an even greater person.
He has made an impact on many people, whether it be on the football field, in the classroom, or anywhere else outside of school and sports. These are the reasons that Coach will forever be a legend both on and off the turf.
Ian Blumenshine is a junior at Juneau-Douglas High School.
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