Tributes to Steve Tarpinian

A Steve Tarpinian memorial was held today. Below are tributes and memories from friends, competitors and people who will always keep him in their hearts.

Steve Tarpinian left us way too early, but has left a mighty impression.

“We met at Jones Beach, Long Island on August 29, 1981 while he was running and I was roller skating. Our eyes locked and it was love at first sight and we have been attached at the hip ever since. I was privileged to have him as my soul mate for so many years, but of course, it was not enough. Steve impacted so many lives in a powerful and positive way, many in the non-athletic world. He gave so much to so many with no expectation of a return. He was not just a coach of sport, he was a coach of life and I learned so much from him. Steve was a gift to all of us that was only ours to borrow. When I see some of the tributes to him, it warms my soul. Steve was a shining star that touched so many lives in such a powerful and positive way. I knew that, but to see it affirmed by so many people touches my heart.” - Jean Mellano

“Steve was the best friend I had in the sport of triathlon and one of the best in my life. We both had a passion for the sport but he made it fun. We were buddies that cracked each other up, fans that argued about who were the best athletes, what were the best races, what was the best way to train, but most of all Steve was to me and countless others, an inspiration. I remember telling him how proud and amazed I was of him because he could turn his passion, talent and understanding of his sport into a successful living and life style. While the rest of us had to put on a suit and tie and take the train into the office Steve traveled the world doing what he loved and helping so many people along the way. Swim fast up there Tarp. As usual, I'm way behind you - in a wetsuit.” - Chuck Sperazza.

“Steve was my beloved coach, mentor and hero. Although I only got to work with him & race with the team for a brief year, he left a profound impact on my life. His grace & guidance helped to lift me out of a postpartum depression, gave me the courage and skills to race triathlons, and encouraged me to begin teaching cycling here in Maine. I am deeply saddened by his passing, but hopeful that he has finally found the peace he was looking for. I am forever grateful for the wonderful coaching I received, the fantastic people he introduced me to, and mostly for the beautiful memories he passed on to those of us who had the privilege of knowing him. Steve was larger than life, an icon in the sport of triathlon. Rest in peace, dear coach.” - Amy Herschl Pillitteri

“As a young triathlete, I had the privilege of life guarding with Steve at the beach. We immediately bonded over the sport we loved, and he inspired me to push myself and be the best I could be. I later became a coach, following Steve's example of giving back to the sport he loved in any way he could. Steve will live on in all of us as Legend, as an athlete, as a coach, and as a friend.” - Matt Winkler

“A friend, colleague, competitor, I remember trying to catch you in the water, shake you off my wheel and watch you run by me. I've drafted you to Montauk and pulled you home again. You've inspired me, intimidated me, encouraged me, drafted me, beaten me, congratulated me and handed me trophies - all the time making me feel better about me. After lifting so many spirits, its so confusing to hear that you struggled with yours. Thank you Steve for all your contributions, may your own spirit rest in peace.” - Ric Stott

“In the early days of triathlon there was much discussion about the length of each [segment] leg. Even though the Hawaiian Ironman was combining 3 events already in existence, there was much discussion as to what would be fair. Fletcher Hanks had the Oxford Equilateral Triathlon where if world record holders did each event the distance would be equal to time making the swim 4 miles, the bike 60 and the run 13, and that would make the Ironman swim 8 miles... a true swim. While we both thought this was wonderful we realized it would not incorporate the masses. Steve consoled me by telling me the swim no matter how short would always be the missing link. The care and the passion by which he raced, coached and lived is so needed today in this triathlon world of online recycled workout coaching. I shared his love for swimming and passion for this young sport and will think of him and honor him every time I enter the sea.” - Eney Jones

“A few years back he and I were both at Ironman Lake Placid. Steve had raced, and I was just there to work and do some training. The day after the race I was out riding my bike, and I accidentally found myself mixed in with the weekly Monday Night Mini Tri that takes place all summer long. As I was pedaling along, Steve came flying by me in the race. The day before he had completed his tenth IM LP in a row, yet there he was doing a super sprint triathlon - and having a blast! I sprinted up to him, rode alongside him, and said hi. Then I asked why he was doing the race. Most people sit on their butts the day after an Ironman. Steve just looked at me and beamed that power smile and said "There was a perfectly good triathlon taking place, and I needed a cool down." Simple as that. I rode next to him for a few more minutes, just enough time for him to admit it probably wasn't going to feel very good during the run, and then he sped off, happy as can be. That's how I remember Steve: smiling all the time, doing the sport of triathlon because it was fun, and because there was no better reason than that.” – Michael Lovato

“His smile danced with excitement, his eyes light up like the stars in the night when he was making someone shine. He was a teacher, a leader, an innovator, a friend all from the kindness of his heart, Steve was the endless cup of giving. He left behind a space we must fix, he taught us how to make it, better, and brighter. Now is the time to not be sad but to show Steve we can shine together. There will be no more loneliness we are a triathlon community, we are strong, and we must help one another. The time has come, the time is now to fight the demon of #Depression. This will keep Steve shinning bright above us.” – Wendy Ingraham

"Steve always had a big smile and something positive to say. I always enjoyed his Long Island humor. Steve would not want sadness to prevail with his death. Swim on my friend, swim on." - Cameron Widoff

"Steve was a great inspiration, especially with stretching. He lit the fuse. We wrote articles, staged bike and triathlon camps and clinics, trained and raced together for more than 25 years. Not sure if people realize what a resource he was for triathlon." - John Howard

We expect a few more memories and tributes and will add them within, but you may also leave your fond memories below via Facebook comments.