Eric Anderson: The Trailblazer
It’s an unbelievably gorgeous Tuesday afternoon, the kind of sunny, blue-skied, spring day that makes most high school students blow off their algebra classes to catch a few waves at the beach. But on the rubberized oval running track at Huntington Beach High – home of the Oilers – there’s work to be done, muscles to be stretched, and sweat to be broken.
“Jog! Move! Stay close! No excuses! Short strides! Oh, are we getting tired?!?”
The man barking orders is coach Eric “Gumby” Anderson, who’s doggedly eyeing the team workout from the protective shade of an announcing booth as the athletes pant, wheeze and gasp through their routine. The training regimen is tough; it hurts just to watch. But Anderson’s techniques have won Huntington Beach High plenty of glory during his 11-year coaching career, including a ridiculous number of meet victories, a 1995 county championship and a trip to the state finals in 1996.
But Anderson’s biggest win was a personal victory in 1993 when he broke ground as one of the few – if not only – openly gay high school athletic coaches in California.
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