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"If you don't enjoy a laugh each day, then what the hell is life worth," chortled Pappy Hunt, coach of the Harvard women's cross-country team. His philosophy is not all hedonism; instead Hunt strikes the perfect balance between hard work and fun.
The sky has dropped a lot of rain on Cambridge this fall but the women's cross-country team has shone, dropping just one race all season. The fledging runners quickly got their legs in this, their second year of competition.
After splitting the season's first race, losing to UMass and beating Brandeis, the Radcliffe Harriers have won four dual or tri-meets and two championships; the team now stands with a 7-1 record. On October 22 they won the New England women's championships, stinging sweet revenge on the UMass team, which placed second.
Pappy says, "give all the credit to the girls, they have done a fantastic job." But one suspects that Hunt has contributed too.
Freshman Anne Sullivan, unbeaten in her college career, said yesterday, "Pappy has a lot of spirit and really knows how to coach cross country. He combines both, which does us each a lot of good."
Hunt approaches coaching cross-country by focusing on the runners as Harvard students. He said, "Harvard students have a million different things to do and college is really all about experiencing as much as possible. Sports is not a be-all and end-all."
However, he has a well-planned strategy for the Radcliffe racers. "I look at the girl's three-mile course as a speed race. We train for a strong first mile around 5:20 to establish dominance at the start. I condition the girls with speed/endurance intervals; first we do a few fast, then rest, and do several at a slower pace," Hunt explained.
"You always need an element of fun," Hunt continued. "I like to throw out a few lousy jokes to keep things relaxed. In fact, I tell the worst jokes on campus."
"Coaching is a very funny job," Hunt said more seriously. "If you put all the coach's opinions and ideas from all over the country into a grinder, out would come a few basic methods and tactics. The key is how you relate to the team members, empathy and sympathy."
Pappy Hunt exudes interest and appreciation in everyone around his nook in Dillon Field House. "The girls have created a strong family sense on this team," said Hunt. "We get tremendous support from the Harvard Alumni and the Athletic department, our new track is an excellent facility--a great boost to our program."
"The best thing that happened to me was to get to coach the women's cross-country team. It gave me the chance to run my own show. I urge, goad and encourage the girls and they put out the effort to win," Hunt concluded.
It was not a bad day for Radcliffe when Happy Pappy came to run the women's cross-country team.
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