Former coach Mark Richt opens up on challenges since Parkinson’s diagnosis

This morning, former Miami Hurricane head coach Mark Richt announced he is suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, a progressive neurological disease that affects the way he moves, talks and walks.

Mark Richt’s legacy as a college football coach is secure, but his personal legacy is a bit more complicated. In an interview with ESPN , the former Georgia head coach talks about the challenges he has faced since his diagnosis in 2011, and how he has coped with his Parkinson’s disease.

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — Hundreds of former players, coaches, friends, and coworkers have shown their love and support for former Georgia and Miami football coach Mark Richt in the weeks after he revealed he had Parkinson’s disease.

That hasn’t changed in Charlotte, where Richt is covering the ACC Kickoff on the ACC Network. Miami receiver Mike Harley, whom Richt helped recruit to the Hurricanes, gave Richt a huge embrace on Wednesday and told him he was praying for him.

In addition to his numerous speaking engagements around the nation, Richt says he wants to continue working as an analyst for ACC Network. He also wants to promote his new book, “Make the Call,” which will be released next month.

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But, in a small group interview, Richt admitted for the first time the numerous symptoms that brought him to the doctor some months ago in search of answers: tiredness, balance difficulties, and motor skills deficits that have begun to take their toll on him.

“I can do nearly everything,” Richt remarked, “I just go slowly.” “What I’m discovering about Parkinson’s is that when you have signs of slower movement, you may develop tremors.” In my left hand, I’ve experienced a little tremor. If you don’t move and stretch, your muscles will get stiff.

“To walk, I have to concentrate entirely on walking. It’s possible that I’ll be sitting in a chair. And if I tell myself to get up and go in my head, I generally do. You’re preparing your brain to deal with this new duty.”

Richt also stated that his father suffers from Parkinson’s disease. His wife, Katharyn, and he just relocated to Athens, Georgia, to be closer to his family, which includes his parents, children, and grandkids.

Richt has had time to think about his last years coaching at Georgia and subsequently at Miami after receiving his illness in May before publicly disclosing it on July 1. After being dismissed at Georgia, Richt spent his last three seasons at his old school, the Hurricanes, before retiring after the 2018 season.

Richt thinks he had symptoms in the latter years of his coaching career, but ascribed them to the pressures of being a head coach at the time. Richt coached for 18 years and went 171-64 as a head coach.

“Even as far back as Georgia, my vitality appeared to be drained. Working 15 years at Georgia might have done the same thing, so you weren’t sure what it was “With a laugh, Richt remarked. “But, even in Miami, I made the decision to resume play-by-play duties. I should have taken a year off, and I got the position within 48 hours, and I’m going to be the playcaller and everything. But I don’t remember being able to spit it out as quickly as I used to. And I was thinking to myself, “Well, maybe that’s new language,” which, in retrospect, it wasn’t.”

Richt was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease almost two years after a heart attack that nearly killed him. Despite his health problems, Richt maintains a positive attitude based on his religion. He attributes his spiritual enlightenment to former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, and he acknowledged him in his remarks. Bowden’s family revealed on Wednesday that he had been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

“It’s temporal that we’re here on Earth. Heaven is eternal, Heaven is eternal, Heaven is eternal, Heaven is eternal, Heaven is eternal, Heaven is eternal, Heaven is eternal, Heaven is eternal “Richt remarked. “And, let’s face it, rather than living for eternity, we’re all going to live someplace for the rest of our lives. It’s simply a question of deciding where we’ll go. That is why I am grateful to coach.”

It’s also why, despite the difficulties ahead, he strives to maintain a good attitude.

“Going into the tank is the worst thing you can do,” Richt remarked. “You must maintain an optimistic outlook. You must continue to go forward.”

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