No Quit in Quick

Auburn, Ala.--Richard Quick has always taught his athletes about the importance of never giving up until reaching their goals.

Now facing the biggest challenge in his life, the Hall of Fame swimming coach says this is no time to back off from the test, no matter how daunting. And this challenge certainly fits that description.

Diagnosed last month with a cancerous, inoperable brain tumor, Quick has had to step away from coaching the Auburn men's and women's teams for now while he concentrates on getting healthy.

"I feel like right now, the thing for me to do to eventually be back with these guys is take care of myself," he says. "And, I would ask them to do the same thing. If they were in this position, or something similar, I would say, ‘Look, take care of yourself so when you come back you are 100 percent.' That is kind of my goal."

On Thursday he stopped by the James E. Martin Aquatics Center to watch the dual swimming meet between his Auburn Tigers, where he is on his second run as a head coach, and the Texas Longhorns, where he was also a highly successful head coach.

Next week he is flying to New York City to check into an experimental treatment since surgery has been ruled out.

"I am on my way on Sunday and I have an appointment on Monday morning with a doctor in New York at Sloan-Kettering (cancer institute)," Quick notes. "It is a little bit of a study going, a little bit outside the box, but I have always lived outside the box so I am excited about it because inside the box the prognosis isn't so good."

University of Texas head women's swimming coach Kim Brackin has a long-time relationship with Quick, who is considered one of the all-time great coaches in the sport. Brackin says Quick is also a great human being.

"Richard is a phenomenal person," Brackin says. "If I could point out one person who initiated my coaching career, it is Richard with his positive attitude, optimism and enthusiasm. I know he will fight this cancer with those qualities and I pray every day he will overcome it, that he will become that miracle story that people talk about.

"What I would also like to do is just remember all the great things he has done in my life for me," Brackin says. "Now being at Texas, I hear so many great stories about him from the alumni that I have created relationships with and it just compounds all of the great feelings I have for him. I just wish him the very best."

Brackin says in addition to being a terrific motivator that Quick, who has coached 12 NCAA team championships including five straight women's championship teams at Texas, is an innovative coach who is respected around the nation and the world in the sport.

Texas coach Kim Brackin coached at Auburn from 1997-2005 and helped the Tigers win seven NCAA team championships.

"I think his best attribute is how he touches people," Brackin says of the six-time U.S. Olympic team coach. "There is a connection he makes. You just feel good being around him. You feel like you can accomplish things."

With Quick concentrating on his health, co-women's head coach Dorsey Tierney-Walker and men's assistant coach Brett Hawke are directing the Auburn women's and men's teams. On Thursday their Top 10 ranked teams lost dual meets to the No. 4 ranked Texas women and the No. 1 ranked Texas men.

Several weeks ago, Quick's focus was training the Tigers to get ready for the heart of their 2008-2009 season. The Tigers were preparing to make their traditional holiday training trip to Florida when he found out he had a tumor.

"I was actually in kind of a little bit of a fog, in my opinion, the last six weeks or so," notes Quick, who is 65 years old. "I passed it off as stress because my wife (June) lost her father on Dec. 1st and I was trying to support her, but I was going up to Seattle several times and those kind of things.

"I found myself getting a little bit lost and I had short-term memory problems so actually I got lost going home one time so I told June, ‘I need to be checked for Alzheimer's.' We got right in (to the doctor) and had an MRI and there it was. The diagnosis has been consistently the same by several doctors."

Richard Quick, who was head coach at Auburn from 1978-82, returned to Auburn in 2007 to take over for David Marsh.

Quick says he is following a special diet and is feeling good. "If I didn't know something was the matter, I wouldn't know anything was the matter," he says with a smile.

"I have a little bit of short-term memory problem, I have a little eye-sight distortion and other than that I feel great," he adds. "I think I am on the right track. I am optimistic. I am positive. It is just one of those challenges in life that the best thing to do is take it head on and win it. That's what I intend to do."

On his way to the Auburn vs. Texas meet he says that he got a real long distance call from a group of coaches in Australia wishing him well. It is a continuation of an outpouring of support for a coach who literally has thousands of friends around the country and the world.

"The support from the Auburn community, the swimming community and my faith community has been extraordinary," he says. "Believe me, it boosts you. It is the best medicine."

Quick adds that his faith is a central part of his life. "What I have said to myself, I am going to put this in the hands of God. I don't think God made me a competitor to sit on the sidelines. I am going to be a part of this fight. I am going to fight it with Him, but He is going to lead the way."

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