There have been hundreds of messages of support and affection sent to former Georgia and Miami football coach Mark Richt in the weeks since he revealed he had Parkinson’s disease.
The work for ACC Network at ACC Kickoff in Charlotte has not halted this. On Wednesday, Mike Harley, a receiver for the Miami Dolphins whom Richt had recruited, embraced his former coach and informed him that he was praying for him.
In a small group interview, however, Richt also admitted for the first time that he has been experiencing exhaustion, difficulty with balance, and motor skills deficits, all of which caused him to seek medical attention a few months ago.
Richt confidently claimed, “I can do practically anything, I simply move slower.” I’ve noticed a tiny tremor in my left hand, and I’ve read that other Parkinson’s symptoms include tremors and muscle rigidity if you don’t maintain moving and stretching.
Richt has stated his intention to maintain his current schedule of national speaking engagements in addition to his position as an analyst for ACC Network. Also, his new book, “Make the Call,” will be published next month, and he would like to get the word out about it.
“Forth order for me to walk, I have to put in a lot of mental effort. Alternatively, I might be sitting down. Also, if I tell myself to “get up and go,” I typically do. To prepare your mind for this new duty, you must first train it.
Richt and his wife, Katharyn, have recently relocated back to Athens, Georgia, to be closer to his parents, children, and grandchildren, all of whom have Parkinson’s disease, as well.
Mark Richt was diagnosed in May but did not make it public until July 1; since then, he has had time to reflect on his career as a head coach at Georgia and then Miami, his alma mater, before retiring at the end of the 2018 season.
After 18 seasons as head coach, during which time he went 171-64, Richt stated he believes he experienced symptoms in his later years of coaching but put it down to the stresses of the job.
Although I traveled as far back as Georgia, I felt like I had no reserves left. Even in Miami, I decided I was going to call plays again. You know, working for 15 years at Georgia could do that, too, so you didn’t really know what it was,” Richt said with a chuckle.
Should have taken a year off, and now I get the position and am the play-caller and everything within 48 hours. However, I do remember feeling like I couldn’t get the words out as quickly. And here I was imagining that this was some novel language when, in retrospect, it was most likely already in use.
Despite Parkinson’s diagnosis coming nearly two years after a near-fatal heart attack, Richt continues to maintain an upbeat attitude based on his faith. Richt mentioned former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, whose family announced on Wednesday that Bowden had been diagnosed with a terminal medical condition, as the catalyst for his spiritual awakening.
The Earth we inhabit is temporary, and so is everything that happens here. Richt remarked, “Heaven, it’s endless, Heaven is everlasting. And the fact of the matter is, we’re all going to dwell somewhere forever. All that remains to be decided is our next destination. It’s for this reason that I’m grateful to be a coach.
View this post on Instagram
This is why he strives to maintain an optimistic view despite the difficulties that lie ahead.
Having a negative outlook is the worst thing you can do, Richt said. Keep on the move.