It was 1996 and I had American Online. Somehow i was on this email list about gymnastics. Usually I didn't even read it since it was mostly about silly things like Amanda Borden's haircut. Well one day I came home from Party in the Park (may have had a few) and I came across a post.
It was from an manager of a gym in Spain that said they had a gymnast who lost his Cuban coach. The gymnast was demoralized and going to quit but wanted to try one more time to make European Championships. I never respond to this list before but for some reason, (maybe cause I had a few) I responded, " I coach two time Jr. National Champ Michael Morgan in the USA, if you need anything let me know." I went to bed and didn't think anything of it.
I work up, read my email and it said "Can he move there?" Keep in mind - you couldn't just google people back then. Well ten days later I picked Alex Barrenechea from the airport. He ended up being one the most incredible people I ever met.
He trained with me for a month. All I did was put together his routines, made him work hard and basically told him how awesome he was, He went back to Spain, finished 4th at Nationals and competed at the European Championships. After that he moved back to Cincinnati. I had two cars, so while I was at my engineering job, he would go have lunch with my mom or friends, go shopping (mostly for movies and music) and then train with me at night. He became part of my family.
We had a great summer. We drove to Atlanta for for the Olympics to see his future brother in law (he didn't know it then) compete in high bar finals. Alex got a lot better. He would go to Spain to train and come back to Cincinnati to train with me too. He ended up competing for Spain in the 2000 and 2004 Olympics.
Funny thing is, as much as i helped him, he helped me even more. I had great Jr. gymnast at the time. Alex trained with and helped me coach him. In 2002 DJ Bucher became one of the youngest gymnasts ever to make the Men's Sr. National Team.
We visited back and forth. My family went to his wedding to Marta Carballo and even got to celebrate in downtown Madrid when they won the World Cup. While at a nightclub (we may have had a few) his brother in law, Jesus, introduced my brother in law to a tennis trainer. This leads to the all the Spanish pro's partying at my sisters house the next month and my niece getting connections to some of the top tennis instructors in the world.
Moral of the story? Once in awhile you have to toss caution to the wind and take a chance on someone. I bet it will impact your life even more than theirs.
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