In former Edinboro cross country coach Doug Watts’ recent lecture, he said he always placed individual and team academic success ahead of anything else as a coach.
Watts gave the final lecture in the Al Stone Lecture series on Thursday Oct. 22, titled “Athletics in an Educational Environment.”
He began the lecture talking about his youth and how his coaching and teaching career began in Ohio.
He quickly proceeded to speak about his time at Edinboro.
“I never allowed myself to accept any other attitude that my runners were at Edinboro first and foremost to get an education,” Watts said.
Watts noted he would not have practice until 4:20 p.m., so that students would have two extra hours to schedule classes in comparison to the other sports’ schedules.
He only held practice three to four times a week, because that is how many times a week the teams would truly workout.
He left the other days open, in order for them to get in their recovery runs when they could and so they could schedule or get academic activities done when they need to.
Athletes could, if they needed to, do their workouts on their own if they had an academic or personal conflict. Watts knew that their quality of workout may decline and that the quality of his team could decline, as well, but he put their academic life first.
Watts admitted he took a chance on kids academically, but he knew they would get the support they needed to be the student they were supposed to be at Edinboro.
Later in the lecture, Watts began to speak about things more related to running.
He noted he never had written rules for how his runners were supposed to behave or how they were supposed to be in their personal lives.
This led to many of his men in the ’70s to growing out their hair and facial hair. Some administrators were not very happy with this, as a rule for the school, since it was predominantly guys then, was to be clean cut.
“We were doing our wind sprints for practice and one of the administrators came up to the track and one of the guys with his long greasy hair was running back and forth,” Watts said.
“That administrator asked me ‘How can you let that freak run for you?’ Oh you mean Jim Peluski, who is struggling to decide to be a teacher or a priest. He was that good of a kid.”
Even with the disregard to that rule, Watts’ athletes were still academically and personally sound. The one rule Watts did have for his runners was, “be the best you can be in all things.”
Michael McLaughlin is a Staff Writer for The Spectator.