Jack Rightmyer, a Burnt Hills resident, will discuss his book on fatherhood and coaching at the Schenectady County Public Library, where he teaches summer creative writing courses.
A memoir of sorts, “It’s Not About Winning: One Runner’s Reflections on Fatherhood, Coaching and Athletics,” is the focus of Rightmyer’s discussion on Wednesday, Aug. 3, at the Schenectady County Public Library on Clinton Street in Schenectady at 7 p.m. The book started out as a graduation present for his daughter almost a decade ago, but ended up as an autobiographical book about his life as a father and his love for athletics. He is also an English teacher at Bethlehem Central Middle School. For the book, he spent five months writing down memories with his daughter, Erin, and about the same amount of time with his son, Paul, before both left for college. Besides focusing on his relationship with his children, he delves into his relationship with his own father.
“I try to pick out parts that would sound good to an audience. You want to read something that has a high entertainment value,” said Rightmyer.
The book does have a sports theme, and with his daughter, he talks about their relationship through cross-country running, which he has coached at Bethlehem since 1997. He and his son connected through golf and cross-country skiing.
The relationship with his father was strengthened by playing golf and watching baseball.
“Even though [my father and I] sometimes had a hard time connecting, if there was sports involved, it helped break down the barrier,” he said.
Rightmyer said he was excited for the opportunity to speak at Schenectady’s library, and he praised the programs it offers.
“I am just very impressed with the kinds of programs they put out,” he said. “They are so wonderful in all of their programs that they have for writers, for literacy. They really treat writers very well and very respectful, and they are just a great organization in terms of encouraging the community to read well.”
Teaching the craft
Rightmyer came up with the idea to teach a summer writing workshop for students at the main library branch. This is the second year he has taught the course, and this year it expanded to two separate sections. There are 15 kids in the middle school section and another 15 in the high school section.
“It is a great way for me to be creative with these young kids,” he said. “Schools are getting more and more about the tests. … It is all about the tests and the score.”
Being able to take some time in the summer to connect with kids, he said, is a great experience. There are children from throughout Schenectady County attending the writing camp this year.
“What really drew me was the frustration of kind of getting away from just teaching kids how to write creatively,” he said. “Being a coach, I have noticed there is a lot of camps for athletes, which is wonderful, but there aren’t a lot of camps for people that like to write.”
The course is free to anyone interested, which was something important to him, and there has been a waiting list both years.
“It gives them an opportunity to meet other kids like themselves that have an interest in reading or writing. Not every library would say let’s do it, but they did, and I really respect them for that,” he said. “They all come together, and they are doing it because they all want to learn to write. I find it very refreshing and they really want to be challenged … from a teacher’s point of view that is really exciting to watch kids get excited like that. I find I get as much out of it as the kids do — I get recharged.”
To attend Rightmyer’s reading, call 388-4511 to register for the event. The Open Door Bookstore will also be having a book sale and signing after the program on Aug. 3.
Reporter Charles Wiff contributed to this article