Ed Sias accepts a team picture from Rich Schwerin (87) at the 1985 Cross Country awards.

A Tribute to Ed Sias

BY STEVE NESHEIM, CPHS Coach 1983-1995

Ed Sias became a running enthusiast during the early sixties while watching his son, Ed Sias Jr., compete for the College Park Track & Field team. Ed had become a runner himself, at age fifty, only a few years earlier. He joined the Northern California Seniors racing club and frequented local races such as the Walnut Festival, the Brick Yard Run, All-Comer Track Meets and his favorite: The Dipsea. Being a race with time handicaps for younger and older runners, the Dipsea gave Ed a chance to shine. His best overall finish was an impressive 3rd place. Ed Jr. moved on from College Park with its first graduating class in 1961. Ed, however, remained in close contact with coaches and athletes of both the Cross Country and Track & Field teams. Working the late shift at Tosco Refinery allowed Ed to train with College Park distance runners during afternoon practices. And that’s how I first came to know Ed. As a struggling freshman in 1974 my goal was to stay up with "that fast old man" who ran with us. Soon I came to know Mr. Sias as a kind, knowledgeable man who loved running.

Gradually, as years passed by, Ed trained and raced less and less. By 1982 his running days were behind him, but his commitment to helping young runners never waned. Being a shy and modest man, Ed never allowed himself to be referred to as a "coach" even though he was very qualified. Regardless, he was a daily fixture at cross-country and track & field practice whether he was praising athlete’s efforts or transporting supplies to and from workout sites like Brionies, Paso Nogal Park and Hidden Valley Park. Ed could also be counted upon to give anyone who came up lame a ride back to school, and for cheering up their spirits as well. In addition, runners from other teams came to know Ed Sias. Anyone who met him once had a friend for life. It didn’t matter if you were a front runner or at the back of the pack, he cheered for everyone. One of Ed’s prized possessions was a simple notebook he would bring to big meets to elicit autographs from top high school runners whom he thought were destined for greatness. What a thrill that must have been to give your first autograph to a fan! Ed gave so many of us confidence.

For me, as a young coach, Ed became my mentor, right-hand-man, conscience and "moral rudder." He taught me many things: to be patient, gentle, and enthusiastic to runners of all abilities and to get to know the whole person…not just runner. Ed’s greatest attribute though was his work ethic. As a volunteer he considered no request too difficult or too inconvenient. Whatever the team needed, I didn’t even have to ask…he asked if he could do it first. Two of Ed’s acts of devotion stand out. First, Ed made maintaining the sand in our long and triple jump pits his mission. Whether at practice or meets, the sand was always raked and shoveled evenly. Ed’s second crusade was spending his free time grooming the running trails at Hidden Valley Park. At first, the two of us worked side-by-side: raking, hoeing and spreading wood chips on hot August and September mornings. As the years passed, and my time as a teacher and a parent became more demanding, Ed took up the slack. By 1993, he wouldn’t even ask; he’d just clear all the trails himself. As a seventy-year-old man, he spent 40-50 hours a summer tirelessly scraping and leveling paths for others to run on. His only companions were the grasshoppers and occasional neighborhood joggers who would stop to chat with him. His reward was satisfaction of a job well done.

Ed was reluctant to have the meet named after him. When I asked him, in 1984, a single tear rolled down his cheek before he paused and then said a simple "O.K." Ed’s only request was for girls to race last. He thought it unfair that boys seemed to always get to run in the final "main event." From the first meet on Ed was an integral worker at the Ed Sias Invitational. He would arrive before dawn to help set-up, work the chute during the meet and be one of the last ones to leave Hidden Valley Park after cleaning-up. His wife, Maggie, worked the snack bar, and his son Ed Jr. and his wife worked the chute as well. It became a family event for the Sias clan. Ed, however, gasped whenever anyone referred to the meet as "his."

Although we lost Ed to Alzheimer’s Disease in 1995, we continue to honor the hard work and enthusiasm he gave to all runners for so many years.

       
 
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