Last winter, a freshman hockey player was having a particularly bad day. As he returned to the dressing room between periods, a portly trainer squeezed his aim and whispered a word of encouragement. Recalling the incident after the game, the player remarked to a teammate, "That Eddie is really great. No matter how bad you are, he's always on your side."
For the last 18 years, Eddie Noonan has been on the side of everybody from Dick Clasby to the greenest freshman athlete in Dillon Field House. This is partly because Noonan makes mental health and team morale his responsibility in the care of Harvard's athletes, but primarily because he is naturally friendly and interested in the players.
Actually Noonan became a fixture at Dillon purely by chance. After graduating from Rindge Technical School in Cambridge, where he played football, hockey and baseball, he went to work for a Boston doctor. "I used to come over to watch a friend play at Harvard in those days," he recalls. "At the time there was an opening for a trainer. My friend finally persuaded me to apply, and here I am." From this rather humble beginning as a trainer with no experience and little knowledge, Eddie Noonan has risen to the presidency of the Eastern division of the College Trainers Association. Dillon supplyman Richie Dwyer calls him "the best trainer in the business."
During the years in between, Noonan has seen and treated some exceptional athletes. He particularly remembers All-East end Loren MacKinney '42, who was involved in one of the greatest hoaxes over perpetrated on ale. In the Brown game in his junior year, MacKinney suffered a leg injury, making him a doubtful participant in the Yale contest. The trainers at Dillon worked overtime to enable him to play, but he appeared in New Haven on crutches the day before the game. The crutches were a clever device of Coach Dick Harlow to fool Yale, however, for MacKinney was physically fit and instrumental in the 28-0 rout of the Elis.
The story of Frank White is one that has impressed Noonan, who remembers treating him for a back injury sustained as a schoolboy. Doctors had predicted that it would prevent White from further contact sports, but his determination to play football and the expert care of Noonan more than upset predictions.
Dick Clasby was Harvard's finest all-around football player in the last 18 years, according to Noonan, but he goes back to the late 'thirties to pick the top hockey player, Austin Harding '39.
The years have changed Eddie Noonan. His hair is turning white and he has grown considerably larger, but his three great interests--sports, medicine, and athletes--have never changed. Richie Dwyer has called him "Harvard itself." Perhaps he is right, for Eddie Noonan is many things to many men.