Having a father who was a high school track coach put James Ribera on the path to running as a youngster. He didn’t stop running for the next 40 years. Along the way he picked up several gold medal awards, none more prestigious than being a champion hurdler for the U.S. Naval Academy over a four-year period.
Following graduation from Oceana High School in 1972, James received a Congressional appointment from the Honorable Paul “Pete” McCloskey to the Naval Academy in 1973.
James was a member of the Oceana High School cross country teams that won four consecutive league championships, going undefeated all four years. He was a key member of the 1972 Central Coast Section championship team.
At the Naval Academy he ran a leg on the 880-yard relay team, while individually running the 880- and 600-yard events. For his four years at the Academy he was the number one 400-yard intermediate hurler. The 880-yard relay team set a school record at the Penn Relays in 1975. The record stood for 20 years. He competed in both indoor and outdoor track.
James had an 11-year career as a U.S. Marine Corps aviator, serving mostly in Marine helicopter squadrons. He had another 20 years as a commercial airline pilot and flying helicopters for Federal Express.
In 1996, James moved to Benicia to be close to his parents. His dad, Ernie Ribera, was coaching track at Benicia High School. James’ daughters ran track at the school. During his vacation break from FedEx, in March and April for the next nine years, James would coach both boys and girls, specializing in hurdlers and jumps. When his dad retired in 2003, James continued to coach three more years, retiring in 2006.
Under his coaching Benicia High won several Tri-County Athletic League and Solano County Athletic League championships (1998-2006). Nine of his hurdlers went to State Championship meets over those nine years.
James could also qualify for induction into the Sport Hall of Fame in the Media category. While attending Oceana High School he was a sports reporter for the Pacifica Tribune, covering the school’s athletics.