Many who live in a college town often are afflicted with myopia. What we are not aware of far exceeds what we know. Some of that is because a large percentage of society doesn’t really care.
For example, how many outside the University of Georgia community are aware that exalted researcher Steve Stice led a team that recently discovered how to heal the brain faster following a stroke? You would be shocked if you sat down with marine biologist Samantha Joye and listened to her discourse about the fact that we are choking the planet with plastic. The billions of plastic sipping straws we dispose of each year are not really disposable.
Even in the sports arena, where I predominantly hang out, myopia sometimes prevails. While I thrill to the excellence of football and basketball, the money sports — who could not admire what Kirby Smart is doing in football, which fuels the budget — you would be duly impressed if you seriously monitored competition in other sports.
Always under the radar is Lu Harris-Champer in softball. Every year, like with so many other teams including swimming, tennis, golf and equestrian, her teams keep winning and excelling. Few Bulldogs teams have enjoyed a greater consistency of success than the Lady Dawgs softball team.
Relatively new on the scene is coach Petros Kyprianou, whom I would call a miracle worker in that no coach has come closer to winning a national championship in a shorter time than this classic overachiever. As the outdoor track and field season gets going, a visit to the Spec Towns Track would give you an exposure to more world-class athletes than all other sports.
If there is a budding young international track and field star in the Balkans, Scandinavia, Russia — or the whole of Europe — Kyprianou will know about him or her and make a connection posthaste. If the situation warrants, he will fly over, have lunch with the prospect and the family and return home the day after. He can find a cheaper ticket than any seasoned airline agent. Red-eye flights and budget motels take precedence in his life. Nobody can make do like this coach-teacher.
An avid weightlifting fan, he is his own strength and conditioning coach (another case of aiding and abetting the budget). He is so versatile that it would not be surprising to learn that he can make chicken salad out of chicken wings.
In only three years, he has won a national title — the recent women’s indoor championship. To give you an idea of how far this sport has come under Kyprianou, with the men’s team finishing third, the two Bulldogs teams tallied a combined 93 points — 21 points more than the closest program that entered the competition.
He is expert at finding athletes who are versatile, multi-purpose types. For example, he took seven women’s athletes and eight men’s athletes to the nationals (some teams took twice that many or more).
What is best about Kyprianou, however, is that he is a good man with a good heart. He is not a self-promoter, but inside there is a burning desire to win championships. He is a world-class coach, coaching world-class athletes. He only needs a world-class facility to ply his trade. Before the Georgia tennis complex became a pace-setting facility, I can remember the many times when Dan Magill, the mastermind of that classic venue would say, “We want to make Athens the Mecca of tennis.”
That is what Kyprianou has in mind for Georgia’s track program. He can visualize kids coming here to see the world’s best compete, to brush up against the stars and pace-setters in track and field, making Athens the Mecca of track and field. Kyprianou is an extraordinary coach and teacher with extraordinary vision.