The other night my wife and I attended the wedding of one of her former collegiate teammates. It was a small, intimate wedding with about 100 guests. I was a little nervous because we have attended weddings of her former teammates in the past, in which I have been left to my own devices (due to not knowing anyone in attendance). The other night however, was much different.
On the way to the wedding, I asked my wife if she thought I would know anyone else at the wedding and reception besides the groom and their former diving coach. She said we would probably be sitting with her former teammates, of which we have attended their previous weddings. I’m all for small talk, but the thought of another wedding left to my own accord bothered me a little bit. That lasted about 30 seconds.
As we walked into the restaurant where the ceremony was going to take place, I heard a familiar voice. One I haven’t heard in over 10 years. It was the voice of one of my former coaches at Fredonia.
I first met Coach Csont on my recruiting trip to SUNY Fredonia in April, 2000. I was in the middle of my senior year at Webster and was coming off of a great couple of meets, and was excited to share the news with him and anyone else that would be interested in listening. He was very patient with me. He answered all my questions and was very honest about his expectations of me and how my performances would measure up on the current collegiate team and within the SUNYAC conference. I was a pretty good thrower, but I thought I was a better sprinter. Our 4x100m relay team had broken a couple of invitational records, and I had recently broke 11 seconds for the first time in the 100m dash. I actually threw the discus over 150’, the shot-put over 50’, and ran under 11 seconds in the 100m dash in the same meet. I thought I was pretty good—he politely told me otherwise.
After I graduated in May, 2004, I stayed on as a graduate assistant for a couple of seasons. At first I thought it was a little weird that I would be coaching with one of my former coaches. I felt a little uncomfortable as well because at the time I didn’t feel as though I would be able to meet his expectations about the type of coach I could be.
After my wife and I moved back to Rochester in 2010, coach and I lost touch. It actually happened before that, after he left coaching at SUNY Fredonia. We lived in neighboring towns for a couple of years and never ran into each other.
Maybe it was fate. Maybe we were both destined to attend this wedding ceremony. But when I heard his voice, we picked up where we left off during the 2007-2008 season. Paul, as he told me to call him (I never called him Paul at Fredonia, even when we were on the same coaching staff), spoke for the better part of the wedding reception. We reminisced about coaching together, how coaching athletes is slightly different and similar in some aspects across the decades, and what we are doing now.
I’m starting this end of the year post with this story of catching up with Paul because we spent the better part of the night ignoring our wives and just talking about what was, what is, and what the future holds for coaching (not only track and field at Fredonia but coaching in general).
It gave me the chance reflect back on all the great times I had at Fredonia, both as an athlete and as a coach. It also gave me the chance to thank Paul for being the coach he was and how I have incorporated some of what he taught us back then with how I coach my athletes today.
Looking back on 2019, it was a pretty good year for our post-collegiate and high-school throwers.
Our high-school throwers topped their prior year’s performances, growing by leaps and bounds.
On the men’s side, senior William Gross won the New York State Championship in the 25lb. weight throw, joining a very elite list of high-school male throwers by throwing the weight over 70’ and the shot-put over 50’ in the same season. William completed this feat at the same meet! William was also a high-school All-American in the weight throw and earned a scholarship to throw at Akron. He is the second male high-school thrower we have coached here at Forza that has gone on to earn a Division I scholarship to throw.
On the women’s side, Monique Hardy made history during the indoor season. She joined the 60’ club in the weight, won the New York State Championship in the weight throw and shot-put, as well as claiming the New Balance Indoor National Championship in the weight throw. Her throw of 64’7” ranks her 6th all-time among high-school female weight throwers, and is also 2nd all-time in New York State. Earlier this season Monique accepted a scholarship to throw at LSU next fall. She is the third thrower from our Forza club to accept a Division I scholarship.
Our post-collegiate throwers continued progressing as well. Weight/hammer thrower Luis Rivera again qualified for the USATF Indoor National Championships in the weight throw, as well as setting another personal best in the hammer throw at just under 66m. Luis has set a personal best in the hammer throw each year he has been a post-collegiate thrower. The goal for the 2020 season is to qualify for the Olympic Trials in the hammer!
I have been very fortunate and blessed over the course of the past few years to have had the opportunity to work with such an amazing group of up and coming throwers. With the correct amount of ingredients, it is amazing the amount of growth and development a young thrower can make over the course of an indoor and outdoor season.
We are a couple of days away from the start of a new decade. Here’s to another magnificent, thrilling, and fruitful decade as we continue along this throwing journey.
Dr. Charles Infurna
Charles Infurna, Ed.D., is the owner and lead coach of Forza Athletics Track Club. Dr. Infurna has coached National Record Holders, National Champions, All-Americans, and Conference Champions at the Post-Collegiate, Collegiate, and High School level.