A Special Thank You from Coach Bob Leetch

Posted on March 19, 2013 - Filed Under Redondo - Nike Invitational, Redondo Beach, Redondo Nike Track Festival, Redondo Union, Sea Hawk Stadium, Track and Field | Leave a Comment

A special Thank you from Coach Bob Leetch

This past weekend Redondo Union High School played host to one of the finest track meets in the nation. What was one of the largest high school sporting events in the history of the South Bay was also an extremely high calibre meet. We hosted 2,200 athletes from throughout the southland to 3,600 events in the span of two days. EPI Elite marks are a standardized level of excellence used to determine high level track and field marks. They are very hard to obtain. The top performing meet in the country so far had produced 60 EPI Elite marks. Last Friday and Saturday the Redondo Nike Track Festival produce 138 EPI Elite marks! In terms of excellence our meet has quickly jumped to become one of the top 10 invitationals in the United States. Pretty big time stuff.

And this was not produced by a group of paid professionals hired to host a meet like the famous Arcadia Invitational or the Mt. Sac Relays. This was hosted by, set up, built up, broken down, cleaned up, escorted, cooked for, picked up after, announced by and run by us. Parents, coaches, friends, family all of us volunteers somehow connected to this track program. Rich Gonzales, our dear friend, editor of PrepCalTrack and Meet Director of the Arcadia Invitational said, “To host this large a meet with that much precision and timeliness was amazing. Hats off to your amazing crew. That is one of the finest meets in the country.”

The size of the meet was impressive. The level of excellence achieved during the meet was astonishing. But the warmth and personal touch from each and every volunteer is what makes this meet special. To hold a high calibre meet with these types of numbers became a vision of mine the moment our school bond to improve our facilities passed. I knew we had the facilities and I also knew we had the type of people that cared about this program and our fine school. But this weekend we exceeded any of my expectations. We ran an amazing meet close to perfection. But it is the friendly, caring manner that every volunteer displays that makes the real difference. Every athlete and coach I spoke with commented on how much fun they were having and how nice they were being treated. Folks, we run a class operation and it shows. One of the best compliments came from the coach at powerhouse Notre Dame High School. He said, “We love this meet. One of the reasons we come here is to show the kids coming out of soccer and football that our sport is Big Time. The Redondo Nike Track Festival makes all our kids feel like stars. After this meet the kids are really fired up. And everyone is so friendly and nice. How do you do it?”

One of the things I determine in a town’s ‘quality of life,’ is it’s sense of community. To me this is how involved are we in our own town. Do we try to shop at a local grocery store, buy our morning cup of joe from around the corner. Do we support our little leagues, local charities or even get to know the people who work and live around us? I think all these things that make up a community are very important in our daily lives. This weekend we showed that we have an amazingly strong sense of community that is very active in promoting the lives of so many around us. This was all of us. Everywhere you looked, we were there helping, leading, assisting all with a smile that said, “have fun, run fast, jump far, be strong, I’m here to help.” Our kids performed superbly. How could they not, everywhere they turned was a familiar face offering encouragement. One of the real joys of this meet is the look of pride on the faces of our kids when they see a their own parents making a contribution. I see the pride in their eyes and I know it is making an enormous impact on them.

I would like to thank all who helped make the Redondo Nike Track Festival the amazing event it is. Everyone who helped in any way is responsible for our successes.

We could never do this without the substantial financial support from the Nike team, Scott Lash, Vida Rabizedah and Lino Almeida are the key players who have worked behind the scenes for months in the planning stages all the way to helping decorate the track. They are not just our sponsors, they are our friends. Whenever we need a thing this team is first in line to help. Since this meet began I have work closely with Scott and Vida to shape the concept of this unique meet.

Special thanks to Laurie Baker, Melanie and Kevin Sullivan, Leslie Mull, Cathy Herold, Tracy McMartin, Doug Boswell, Wendy and Tony Ulizio, Susan and Kevin Ryan (the voice of Redondo Track & Field), Dave and Mona Dill for taking many of the time consuming lead positions. And my lovely wife Kirsten Leetch for taking the reins and organizing the whole event. They are the real nuts and bolts of our organization. They put in months of work before the first starting gun went off. Thanks to our friends Debbie Brossard, friend of Leslie Mull, who flies out from Scottsdale, Arizona every year to work the lower concessions and my best man Nick Carr and his girlfriend Wendy who fly down from San Francisco every year to help with field management. Those three don’t even have any skin in the game!

On behalf of the entire coaching staff, thank you for all your hard work and efforts. Each and every one of you has touched our program and in a simple way made lives a little better and Redondo Beach a finer community.

Bob Leetch
Track and Cross Country
Redondo Union HS
1 Seahawk Way
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
Gill/USATF National High School
Coach of the Year

Addendum to the Thank you letter,

Sometimes we overlook the people that we care the most about. In my effort to reach out to those who we wanted to acknowledge for their contributions in the Redondo Nike meet I unfortunately focused primarily on the lead organizers. In my haste I left out one of our dearest and most loved friends, Carlos Caracoza. For the last six years he has not only provided 100’s of gallons of Gatorade but flipped burgers at every concession or team BBQ that Redondo track and cross country has participated in. Around the kids, he has obtained ‘Rock Star’ Status. He’s known primarily as Carlos, much like Prince or Donovan, and they adore him.  He has been to just about every meet we have participated in and cheered his heart out for the Sea Hawks. In the Nike meet, not only did he carry in load after load of food supplies for the concessions but cooked burgers, hot dogs and made tacos for the entire Friday and Saturday sessions. Close to 20 hours worth of cooking over the two day event. All with the same light hearted personality and hard work ethic that makes everyone around him feel like their task just got that much easier. I personally don’t know how he does it, Carlos is one of those people that has a positive effect on everyone he comes in contact with.  Without his undying support, contributions and hard work, the Nike meet and the team would not be the same…  certainly not as much fun. Carlos has and always will be a huge part of the track family and we are very grateful for all his many contributions.
Thanks again Carlos!
Bob Leetch
Head Coach
Track and Cross Country
Redondo Union HS
1 Seahawk Way
Redondo Beach, CA
90277
Gill/USATF National High School
Coach of the Year

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