The measure of a man's success is not always found in the amount of wealth accumulated over a lifetime but rather in the influence he's had on others. The contributions to mankind are great indications that a person has touched many lives and inspired so many to succeed.
We often find our successes in those of others who we have touched and influenced to advance their own lives in positive ways. We find it in the lives of others who carry on our legacy and continue to contribute to society in the same way we influenced their lives.
We hope that in our time that we have been a positive role model for others and that we have helped them grow as individuals.
Sometimes we never know how strong our influence has been. We don't look for accolades nor do we seek out an accounting of all our good deeds. Much of what we do, we do quietly and on a regular basis. It's the way we live our lives and how we approach working with others that counts most.
Andy Garcia is a figure in my personal life that had a positive influence on the direction I took and the interests I pursued. He influenced me in my choice of universities and pointed me in a direction that would place me in an environment where he knew I would have support and other role models that would welcome me. I chose the University of Akron because this was where Andy Garcia went to school. He was an icon in Akron football and basketball and knew many of those who were icons themselves in Akron University sports history.
When he learned I had chosen The University of Akron he was quick to give me a list of names of people I needed to connect with while at the University. Among those he named were Kenneth "Red" Cochrane and Andy Maluk; both were icons in Akron sports history. I took time to meet both of these men and once I mentioned Andy's name both men broke out in wide smiles and inquired as to how he was doing and spoke fondly of him. They welcomed me warmly and always greeted me with a smile when they saw me on campus.
Andy passed away in 1998 but his memory lives on. The Conneaut Area School District named the gymnasium after him (while he was still alive) and you can find a stone in the beach area of Township Park that commemorates his dedicated service.
His funeral was held in the high school gymnasium; the one that was named after him. I traveled to Conneaut to attend his funeral and pay my last respects. As I pulled into a parking space another car pulled into the parking space across from me. Immediately I noticed that the car also had Summit County license plates and I easily recognized the person that got out of the car. Jack Greynolds was an icon in his own right as a famed basketball coach at Barberton High School in Summit County. He had been an associate of Andy Garcia's and was there to pay his last respects as well. Jack has since passed on as but his accomplishments and contributions to Summit County athletics are well remembered.
In the news reports of Andy's death it was obvious that he had touched so many lives during his time. There were comments from past athletes and former teachers that had known him over the year as well as comments from several coaches that had known him and even one NFL coach that had played for him in high school.
I was recently inducted into the State Soccer Hall of Fame and take pride in having been recognized for my contributions. Andy Garcia, in his lifetime, was inducted into seven halls of fame; one of them posthumously. I had the privilege of being with him and his family when he was inducted into The University of Akron sports hall of fame and took advantage of this opportunity to speak with him of the influence he had had on my life. I was proud to have had him as a mentor and coach; and later in life as a friend.
It's not often that we get to hear about how much positive influences we have had on the lives of others but I felt a great sense of pride in having had the opportunity to let him know that he had touched my life in so many ways. Andy has passed on in this life but he continues to live in the hearts of so many lives he touched over his time.