Rick Milam by Mark Foyer, Half Moon Bay Review

It was so right that the first person to congratulate Sammy Hamilton for her qualifying for the state track and field championships not from Half Moon Bay High School was Rick Milam. Milam, a former track and field and cross-country coach at Homestead High School, was one of the most important people in those sports in the Central Coast Section. At major meets, he would check in athletes for races, make sure they got their proper hip numbers and would pass the starting list to the starter. He never forgot whom the sport was about. It was about every athlete who either ran, jumped or threw something. He was able to maintain his schedule this season despite battling cancer. While he was on his way to that win, something else happened. He suffered a heart attack on Aug. 22, and died the next day, surrounded by family and a few close friends. Wherever there was a track meet or a cross-country meet, Milam was usually there. A few years ago, he was one of the announcers at the Artichoke Invitational. He helped with the announcing at CCS meets, as well as invitational meets. With his deep voice, he would not only call the races, but also make announcements. He did everything with a smile. He was real. He wore his love for the sport on his sleeve. His best attribute was the relationship he had with the coaches and the athletes. He got along with every coach, helping them if something came up. He had a very special relationship with each athlete. If the athlete set a personal best, won a title, or qualified for state, he would give that athlete a high-five. It was that way in May when Hamilton finished third in the 1,600 meters, qualifying for the state meet, a week later. Carrying his clipboard and microphone, he was at the finish line when Hamiltonąs race concluded. After getting a hug from coach Paul Farnsworth, Hamilton started to walk, or perhaps float, toward the awards stand. On her happy walk there, Milam greeted her. As she smiled at him, he told her how proud he was of her. A few hours later, after Hamilton ran the 3,200 meters, the two saw each other again. Hamilton finished seventh in the 3,200 meters, running her fastest time of the season. She was still glowing qualifying for the state meet. Milan couldnąt stop talking about how proud he was of her. She said she was a little fatigued after the 3,200. He told her not to worry about it. "The thing is you did what you had to do," Milam told her that night, after the 3,200. Milam was thrilled to have watch Hamilton grow as a runner. He was there when she won the CCS cross-country title twice. He saw her compete with dignity and honor at many top track meets in the section. She thanked him. Hamilton had come a long way. An injury ended her track season a year earlier. It wasnąt lost on Milam. "You are the old Sammy that I know," he told her. "You are as tough as nails." Milam, himself, was as tough as nails. All of his friends were upset to learn of his battle with cancer. Milam maintained a positive attitude. "This is nothing," he responded. "I was a Marine." Both sports will go on. But it will be different not seeing Milam there. When another Half Moon Bay athlete reaches that high level, it will be bittersweet for me. I will be happy for the athlete, but unhappy because Milam wonąt be there to share in that celebration. Mark Foyer Sports Writer Half Moon Bay Review