Trail lost another of its sports legends last month.
Tony Tenisci passed away on Oct. 28 at the age of 74 after a year-long battle with cancer. Born in Italy on Sept. 21, 1949, Tenisci came to Canada with his mother and sister at the age of two, joining his father who had found work in Trail.
In his teens, Tenisci excelled in track and field and in particular the hammer throw. He was crowned the Canadian Midget, Juvenile, and Junior hammer throw champion and eventually claimed the Canadian and North American record in the hammer throw in 1968.
Tenisci won the Canadian Senior Championship in 1968, 1969, and in 1970. He participated in the British Commonwealth Games in 1970 and the next year in the Pan-Am Games. Tenisci also set the World Indoor Hammer record in 1971.
He attended Washington State University (WSU) and was chosen NCAA All-American in 1969, 1970, 1971 and 1973, and graduated in 1974.
Tenisci earned his master’s degree in physical education from WSU after doing postgraduate work in physiology and biomechanics of exercise in athletics at the University of Moscow in Russia. He also studied at the University of Gutenburg in Germany and the University of Hawaii.
He spent his next 30 years teaching and coaching at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where he became head coach of the Nittany Lions’ Women’s Track and Field team from 2012-16.
“It has been such an honor to have the opportunity to coach with Tony Tenisci, and his friendship has meant the world to me over the years,” said Penn’s track and field coach Steve Dolan in a release. “I have never met anyone that loved life, people and Penn more than Tony.”
Widely regarded as an outstanding technical coach in the throws and jumps, Tenisci held extensive clinics and training programs throughout the country, and introduced the hammer throw to women’s athletics.
As an expert in weight training and conditioning, he designed several strength and training programs for various teams at Penn, and other professional athletic organizations. Tenisci also published numerous articles in both scientific and recreational publications, and invented an exercise machine for muscle growth and dynamics.
During his time at Penn, Tenisci coached a handful of national champions and many who went on to compete in the most prestigious meets such as the US Track and Field Championships, Senior American National Championships, and the Olympic Trials.
“The energy and enthusiasm which he brought to every interaction has been an inspiration to me and so many others,” said Dolan. “If the value of one’s life is quantified by how many people you have helped and influenced in a positive way, then Tony is resting in peace among the most accomplished of all-time.”
Mandy (Bennett) Owen writes fondly of her coach, friend, and mentor, who recruited her from a small Ohio town to come to Penn State where she thrived. Her four-year run at Penn turned into a friendship of more than 25 years.
”Tony changed my life. He recognized my potential from a literal 500 miles and a figurative lifetime away. He was my throwing coach, my cheerleader, my critic, my friend, my mentor. He helped me become the woman I am today.
“Tony was incomparable, vibrant, loving, loud. Tony was Tony. I loved him because he was, unapologetically, who he was. I admired him for the same reasons. My life is better because of him. He was a touchstone for 25 years. My heart is broken because he is no longer here.”
Tenisci lived his dream in Philadelphia, helped many others realize their own, and was always thoughful of his Trail home and the place where it all started.
Tenisci’s legacy is also honoured on the Home of Champions Monument in Trail.
“He never forgot his roots in Trail,” his sister Laura said in an email to the Times. “He often spoke about Trail as being that place that instilled in him the values of hard work, a strong sense of identity, and a pride in a community that gave strong enthusiasm and support to the development of athletes.”
He is survived by his two sisters, Dialina and Laura (Don), their children and grandchildren, and many long time friends. The Tenisci family plan to have a celebration of life and lay Tony to rest near parents Fausto and Maria Tenisci (the Tenisci’s from Main Street) in Trail in the spring.
Go online to read obituary at Corleto-Latina Funeral Home , and express condolences and share your experiences on a tribute wall to Tony Tenisci.