Creig P. Sherburne/Atascadero News • Ralph Fruguglietti begins his windup for a discus toss during the invitational discus event at the final Atascadero All-Comers Meet of 2012 Wednesday. Fruguglietti often takes advantage of the mid-afternoon conditions at Memorial Stadium to get in some good throws.
Ralph Fruguglietti has driven from Bakersfield four times this summer to throw a small metal disk at the Atascadero All-Comers meet.
“I’ve come for a number of years and this is a great place to throw,” he said.
But that’s not all. Fruguglietti is so good that this time next year, he’ll travel to Italy to compete in the World Masters Games and then to Brazil for the World Athletics World Championships.
“It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it,” he said with a pious look on his face.
Fruguglietti, now in his mid-50s, throws the discus and shot-put and has done so since he was in high school. He also threw for the University of Southern California where he earned two silver medals, until he got picked up to throw for Italy.
Born in Italy and raised in Bakersfield, he said it was a wonderful opportunity and he went to the European championships in the late 1970s.
And then he stopped. He became a restaurateur. He raised a family. He lived a life outside of sports.
Then, about 13 year ago, he picked it up again and found he was still good at it and that he liked it.
“I was coaching my son,” Fruguglietti said.
His son was attending a small private school which had no track team. But the boy wanted to participate in track and field, so asked his dear old dad to coach him. Fruguglietti said “yes” and got permission to use a larger, nearby school’s track and field area on the condition that he coach some of those kids, too.
Fruguglietti’s boy no longer participates in track and field, though his daughter got a scholarship to California State University at Bakersfield for hammer throwing.
It was that time coaching his boy that reintroduced Fruguglietti not just to the sport, but also to his love of the sport.
“There’s a love for [throwing],” Fruguglietti said. “You stay with it. When you find someone who throws, you have a bond.”
Fruguglietti’s two main sports are discus throwing and shotput. They’re closely related to javelin and hammer throwing, though each sport has its own nuances and requirements.
According to www.track
andfieldevents.com, discus throwing as a sport can be traced back to the eighth century, B.C. and has been part of the modern Olympic games since its inception in 1896.
Very simply, the goal of the discus throw is to throw a discus — Fruguglietti’s age group throws a 3.3-pound, 8.6-inch diameter disc — as far as you can, hoping to beat the other guy.
Shot put is much the same, except the disc is a steel sphere. Fruguglietti’s age group throws a 13.2-pound ball.
Fruguglietti is coached by Scott Semar. Semar’s high school students have gone on to Olympic trials and national championships and he’s trained more discus and shot put state champions than anyone ever.
He said that, especially with discus, technique is far more important than sheer strength, though strength counts for a lot.
“The reason my kids were really good in high school is they practiced more than anybody else,” Semar said. “It’s like swinging a golf club. You have to do it right. … Anyone can run, but it’s hard to throw.”
All of which means that Fruguglietti trains seven days a week. Some days he throws shot put, some days he throws discus, some days he runs and some days he lifts weights. But it’s rare, he said, for a day to go by without some sort of training with throwing in mind.
“The tape is always looking back at you saying, ‘I got more,’” Semar said.
That, he said, is why throwers tend to be really into throwing: you can always do a little better. So people like Fruguglietti keep on going.
And it’s paid off. Not only is he in amazingly fit shape, he’s now good enough to participate in just about any age-appropriate competition he wants to.
“Now’s it’s an excuse to get a vacation,” he said, laughing. “Anyway, this is the closest meet that counts. This is an opportunity to throw.”
He said that’s at least part of why he’s made it to four All-Comers meets this year. Mostly to throw, certainly, but a big part of it is that he gets to try new restaurants he’d never have eaten at otherwise.
“[Throwing] balances out my business life with my family life and gives me a reason to go to the gym,” he said.