Richard V. Croghandate posted: 2006-12-05 16:18:33
Ateneo High School faculty and coach
coach of 7-time champion Ateneo NCAA junior track and field team
Former Ateneo High School teacher and track and field coach Dick Croghan’s love of track and field began at Xavier Jesuit High School in New York in 1949.
He joined the track team during his freshman year, and was a member of the cross country, indoor, and outdoor track teams throughout high school. In senior year, he was chosen team captain, thus, he and his teammates forged great friendships while training hard, eating lunch together on school days, and meeting at parties and dances on weekends.
In 1957, an opportunity for further studies found Dick on Philippine shores, where he studied at Berchmans College in Cebu. After completing his MA in Philosophy in 1960, he began work at the Ateneo de Manila High School (AHS) as a Jesuit Scholastic and taught English, Latin, and religion up to 1963.
He also coached the track and field and softball teams. “I must practice everyday” was his rule. Thus, missing two practices without an excuse got a player off the team. This proved to be effective because in his nine years of coaching, only a few dropped off the team.
What he learned in high school track, he brought with him to the AHS. He tried to build a team concept by encouraging the athletes to do things together, be each other’s “cheering team” during competitions, and make practices fun.
He returned to the US for graduate studies in theology and English in 1963, after which he went back to the AHS in 1969 to teach English to seniors as a Jesuit priest. Of course, coaching the high school track team was again part of his stint at the school, bringing home a string of wins.
Dick coached the junior team from 1969 to 1975. During that time, Ateneo won the NCAA championship four more times. In 1971, he also coached the college team and was instrumental in the seniors finishing second to Mapua. In 1972, the junior team was outstanding, copping 21 out of a possible 23 gold medals. In team scoring, Ateneo was first with 218 points, La Salle was second at 92 points.
“In my nine years of coaching, we won the NCAA junior championship seven times and twice finished a close second to La Salle. On my only year as coach of the college team, we finished second to Mapua,” he enthuses.
When he visited Manila in January 2004, he was deeply touched by the reunions he had with the Ateneo track men from 1960 to 1963 and from 1969 to 1975. He was especially touched by the memory of a student, who said he was very much impressed by what Dick did at a dual meet, encouraging one of the 400-meter low hurdlers who was almost last in the race. At the finish line, Dick ran over to the athlete and congratulated him for his great effort. At that time Dick didn’t realize the lasting impression of his gesture of encouragement.
Dick returned to the US in 1976. After a year, he accepted a position at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Now retired, continues to reside in Albuquerque with his wife Lillian, children, and grandchildren.