When John Radetich stopped by the Gazette-Times to talk with me Tuesday, he had just come from one of his twice-a-week sand volleyball games at Chintimini Park.
At 63 and nearly 6-foot-3, he’s in good shape. Always has been. When the winter rolls around, he’ll be telemark skiing on Marys Peak every chance he get.
John was a track athlete for years. His dad, Joe, snapped the June 1962 photo of John high jumping. Using the old straddle style, John cleared 4-11 to tie for first place in the Redwood City, Calif., All-City Meet. The next month John and his dad attended the U.S.A vs. U.S.S.R. Track and Field Meet at nearby Stanford Stadium. (I attended that meet with my dad, too. I was 9 at the time.) We’re running a story in sports this Sunday about that storied event. John and many others consider it to be the greatest dual meet of all time.
John went on compete for Oregon State University, where he adopted the flop style of high jumping introduced by his teammate, Dick Fosbury. He also competed in the professional International Track Association and set a world indoor high jump record of 7-4 3/4 in 1973.
When his high jump days ended, John spent many years coaching during his career with the Boys & Girls Club of Albany. In 2004, I was one of the assistant coaches under John for a combined Calapooia-Memorial middle school track team. I learned a lot from him.
John retired in 2006, but he hasn’t stopped coaching. He is the volunteer high jump coach at his alma mater.
Next season, he’ll coach four OSU women’s high jumpers, including Rylee Marshall, a sophomore from Philomath, and Sara Almen, an incoming freshman from Santiam Christian. Almen, who will play volleyball for the Beavers
this fall, had the best girls’ jump in Oregon this year (5-9) at any level, winning the 3A state title.
“I gave her her first Oregon State track shirt the other day,” John said. “She put it on and had a big smile on her face.”
A 1970 Oregon State grad, John is delighted that track has returned to OSU.
“This is a dream that I thought would never come true,” he said. “I never thought we’d get track back at OSU. The fundraising for the next stadium and the endowment fund, which will usher in a men’s team, has exceeded my wildest expectations.”