Throwing coach Randy Ziraldo dies at age 65

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“Coach Z … made anyone that listened to his instructions better,” said Director of Track and Field Scott Fangman who had known and been friends with Throwing Coach Randy Ziraldo for 30 years.

Ziraldo passed away on Feb. 12 after waiting nearly five months for a heart transplant. Ziraldo had worked as the throwing coach for the University of Indianapolis for four years after leaving the University of California Berkeley in 2011. He was a dedicated coach and teacher who even coached from the hospital through Skype in his last months, according to Fangman, who first met Ziraldo while coaching high school track with him at Southport years ago.

“In the short time he was here [at UIndy], he had a national champion, two national champion runner-ups, and three other all-Americans,” Fangman said.

Randy Ziraldo coached at the University of Indianapolis for a total of four years. Photo contributed by Scott Fangman and Vincent Ziraldo

Ziraldo is survived by his mother, Yvette, many siblings and cousins and his two sons, Vincent and Arturo, according to his obituary.

“He taught me to never give up in athletics. He would always say, ‘Never give up and never give in,’” said junior thrower at UIndy Vincent Ziraldo. “In life, he taught me to love God above all else.”

Fangman said that the team will do the best it can do in Ziraldo’s name.

“We aren’t using this in any way as an excuse to do our best, because that should be a given. We won’t let it get us down, either,”  Fangman said. “The throwers have to tap into everything they’ve learned from him. We honor him by going out and doing our best.”

Ziraldo died on Feb. 12 after five months on the waitlist for a heart transplant. Photo contributed by Scott Fangman and Vincent Ziraldo

Ziraldo, already in the California Track and Field Hall of Fame, will likely be inducted into the UIndy Hall within the next five years, according to Fangman.

“As far as throwing coaches go in the country, he was considered to be one of the top guys,” Fangman said. “People were shocked when he came here, because he had coached a national champion in every throwing event at Cal.”

According to Fangman, Ziraldo was not always the nicest coach, but he sure did leave an impact on his throwers.

“With Coach Z, you were either getting better or you were crying,”  Fangman said.

“No matter what, he would never give up on you, as long as you didn’t give up on him,” Vincent said. “He was an awesome coach.”

Vincent noted that he was very grateful for how supportive everyone at UIndy had been to him and his family in the past few months.

“Everyone has been treating me the same mostly,  just a lot more supportive,” he said. “A lot of people have reached out to me that I didn’t know personally, but they knew my dad. He never knew a stranger.”

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