June 11, 2003

Editor’s Note:
June is always a big month for the senior high school athletes. There is graduation and the end of their scholastic careers, plus Father’s Day. During previous Junes, Tom Williams has turned over his column to Stephanie Gaitley, Matt Woolley, Jeff Boyd, Allison Rinck, Tracey LeFever and Shaune McLaughlin, among others, to write about their fathers.
This week, Ocean City High School senior Erik Geisinger, the Cape May County cross country champion and a state finalist in track who will run in the National Scholastic Championship Meet this weekend, writes about his father, Karl, a longtime coach at Mainland.

My Father’s Day tribute

Guest Sports Columnist

Sunday is Father’s Day and I would like to talk about my dad, Karl Geisinger, and all that he has done for me. He has been there through all the good and all the bad times in my life.

I can remember my favorite birthday party, where he organized everything. First, a magician came to our house and, afterwards, we played a flag football game. He had managed to get all the equipment needed for the game and was also the referee. None of my friends wanted to go home that day, it was so much fun.

I also remember the time I sliced my knee open badly on a piece of slate. I was in shock, but my dad knew what to do right away, getting me ice and driving me to the hospital. My mom tried to be there with me but, since she is not too fond of blood, she had to leave. My dad stayed there, holding my hand through the whole procedure.

My dad has helped me so much with sports. When I was on the traveling soccer team, he volunteered to be the flag man every game since no one else wanted to do it. Soccer was not one of his favorite sports but that did not stop him from coming to every game.

My dad is a teacher at Mainland Regional High School and is also the girls basketball coach there. He has always taught me that defense wins games in basketball. That really stuck with me and I was named best defensive player for both years I played basketball in high school.

My main sport now is running – cross country, indoor track and outdoor track. During my freshman year of cross country, for the first time, my dad was unable to get to all of my races. He was a football coach at Mainland and it took up a great deal of his time in the fall. This made him angry at himself so he decided not to coach football anymore during my high school years. From then on, he never missed another race.

He became very involved with my cross country and track teams, even creating a web site showing all the latest team stats, running information and photos. He’d be up quite long during some nights writing stories for the web site. My teammates and I think of him as an assistant coach.

My dad also helped me academically. As a teacher, there have not been many questions that he could not answer. Sometimes, when I had a really tough question that he wasn’t sure about, he would call up one of his teacher buddies and get the correct answer.

He has taught me that academics always are first and foremost. Some nights when I’d be up very late writing an essay or something, he would stay up to go over it with me when I was done, making any necessary corrections, when he really needed to be in bed. I realize that if it were not for him, I would have struggled a lot more in school. He has motivated me to work harder than most people to become the best I can be.

I have done so much with my dad. I have gone on many trips with his basketball team. They were not always tons of fun for me, but just being with him made it much better. He also got me the job of “ball boy” for the Mainland football team when he was coaching. It was a lot of fun for me, watching the game and being a part of the team at the same time.

My dad is one great guy. I thank him for everything he has done for me. He has made me who I am and helped create visions of what I hope to be. I will be heading off to Rowan University this fall and look forward to running for their teams. I know that my dad will be at almost every meet, rooting me on, just like he does today. It makes me feel real good knowing I have someone backing me up 100 percent in everything I do.

Thank you, Dad, and Happy Father’s Day.

Read more of Tom Williams' columns