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Attacks personal for three coaches

A year ago America and the world was shocked when the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were attacked by terrorists.

The shock was especially prevalent for many Americans who had family or friends involved in the tragedies or living in the New York area.

Three South Florida coaches were among those Americans affected in such a way.

Softball coach Ken Eriksen, a native of Stony Brook, NY.,and baseball coach Eddie Cardieri, who was born in Brooklyn, were especially affected by the day’s events.

Scott Barasch, a former high school teammate and a close friend of 26 years to Eriksen, was working for an investment company in the financial district during the time of the attacks.

It took a week for Eriksen to learn whether his friend was safe or one of the six people lost in Barasch’s company.

Barasch was left unharmed and used the event to rethink his outlook on life, he said.

Barasch, Eriksen and countless other Americans have since rethought some of their values and the way they interact with family.

“There’s no question everyone who has any ties with the tragedy has become more familial, spending more time at home,” Eriksen said. “Mentioning to the people before they leave them that they love them. (Barasch realized) that it is not as much a rat race anymore.”

Cardieri also made it through without heartbreak. His second cousin, Vinnie Cardieri, is a policeman in the city who worked the night shift.

Vinnie was one of the lucky ones who did not have to fight for his life among the wreckage or witness any of the life-altering scenes because he was not directly involved in an area near the carnage.

Former men’s soccer coach John Hackworth coached Patrick O’Keefe at Wake Forest. O’Keefe is an employee of Morgan Stanley, which had an office on one of the top floors of the World Trade Center.

“It was obviously extremely traumatic,” Hackworth said. “He is back working and going on.”

Hackworth was notified about his situation along with other friends of O’Keefe in a group e-mail.

O’Keefe was not affected like others were after the events in regard to his attitude following the tragedy.

“I don’t think he was trying to make up for anything that he thought he had missed,” Hackworth said. “He is very even-keeled.”

Eriksen and Barasch haven’t been taking things so lightly. Eriksen and some other of his high school baseball teammates have scheduled to meet and play a friendly game at Cooperstown once a year in September.

“We’ve spoken to each other quite a bit more,” he said. Eriksen also is affected in another way.

While he was a coach with the national team this summer, he traveled to Japan and played and learned the views of other countries.

“A lot of countries look at us as we view the neighbor with cancer or as if we just lost a wife or husband,” Eriksen said. “Other countries view us like there is a lot of compassion.”

To remember the day he is going to take a quiet approach, just reflecting. At his request, the softball team is going to get together and watch the encore presentation of CBS’s Sept. 11 tribute Wednesday.

“More than anything else you will find more people in New York staying home with their families on Sept. 11,” he said. “It will be a very quiet day for reflection.”