Bill Squires was one of the finest distance coaches to coach in this country. What made him special? Well, he was absolutely in love with the sport and loved his athletes. He was also, well, idiosyncratic! Here’s how Jeff Benjamin curated some deep thoughts from some of America’s finest distance runners, those who knew ‘Coach’.
Running Legends Recall Fun Times With Bill Squires
By Jeff Benjamin
A Genius? A Character? A little nutty? Idiosyncratic?
Or All Of The Above?!!
These words above best describe the personality of the late Bill Squires, the Notre Dame runner who went on to become the greatest marathon coach in America! Squires passed away last week at the age of 89.
Presented here are humorous tributes from some of his athletes who he coached to National & World-Class status!
“I first met Coach when he picked me up at Logan airport in the summer of 1980 for the Falmouth Road Race. At the time Coach was the Team New Balance coach and I was sponsored by them. I had never met Coach before but of course, heard of him. He said, “Dickie I’ve got a friend on the Cape that has a house and we’re gonna stay at…It will be nice and quiet and it’s close to the start.”
Well, quiet it was not!
There was a big party going on so I headed upstairs to find a room but other people had already taken them. I found a pillow and a blanket and was sleeping out in the hallway on the floor. When Coach came up later he saw me sleeping on the floor and said, “Dickie – you take the room I have and sleep in the bed, I’ll find another place.” I said I was ok but he insisted!
About 4am I went into the bathroom and there sleeping in the bathtub was Coach with a towel as his blanket!
He’d give anyone the shirt off his back, one of the most wonderful people I’ve ever had in my life!”
“One of my first trips with GBTC was to a race down near Miami I think. I was assigned to bunk with Coach. Walked into a room with a plush king bed with mirrors over it. I immediately said I’ll take the floor…I had a blast with all of them!”
“A favorite memory of Coach Billy Squires – The AAU Cross Country National Title 1979
The GBTC goal since 1975, win this title an accomplishment that would be marked by placing individuals in 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 12th.
Running was changing for good or I’ll as individuals we were moving on to shoe company sponsored clubs.
We celebrated our win with the usual frat boy antics including rowing as a team across the makeshift dance floor of the local pub and doing the Batman dance.
Last call arrived and Randy Thomas and I walked back to the hotel finding a no parking sign attached to a pole lying on the ground.
We knocked on Coach’s door and Danny Dillon answered the door. We placed the sign beside Coach who had an injured shoulder and was fast asleep in bed.
We laughed went to our room and left a wake up call for Danny and Coach and then hit the feathers.
Imagining Coach in the morning when the phone rings “cripes” as he hit his head on the sign. Danny what’s up.” “Bobby and Randy left it.”
It was very early in the morning and Danny and Coach came and knocked on our door. “Hey, jokers time to go.” “Sure thing Coach, see you in the lobby.”
Randy and I-went back to sleep our flight wasn’t leaving until the afternoon.
It seems a bit silly these practical jokes but it seems necessary to remember a special moment making it a lasting memory.“
“The “2 Ties”!
The 1978 Purchase, NY. Diet Pepsi National 10k road championships.
A number of the GBTC traveled to Purchase on Thursday for the Saturday race. Coach traveled on Friday and for some reason had packed 2 separate sets of clothing: 2 sports jackets, 2 shirts, 2 pairs of pants, and 2 ties. It was amazing that both sets matched, with no plaids and stripes.
Post-race we were hustling to check out of the hotel and catch the shuttle to the airport. Bob Hodge and I were packed and went to Coach’s room to make sure he made the shuttle. The coach was packed, looking color-coordinated with his sports coat, shirt, and tie. As we were hustling him out of his room Hodgie noticed that coach had left one tie on his bed, unpacked. Bob pointed it out to coach: “Balls” said the coach. He walks to the bed and neatly ties his tie around his collar. Bob and I said nothing.
Coach checks out of the hotel, boards the shuttle bus, checks in at the airport, waits at the gate, boards the plane and flies back to Boston, all while wearing the 2 ties. He is met at the airport in Boston by a friend who notices that he is wearing 2 ties. His friend calls out “what’s with the 2 ties”?
“Balls!” says the coach.“
Freddie Doyle – who also corroborated the “2Ties!” Story –
Whenever we would go to a restaurant Coach always wanted to charm the waitress so we could get extra rolls or a free dessert or beverage.
He would always use the name of the town and say, “Weren’t you Miss Melrose in 2010?..I saw your picture in the local paper.”
Never failed to get a laugh! It was always someone’s birthday so we could get a cake or free dessert!
Also – when we would travel he used to stop at all the toll booths and have the guys pick up the loose change. Usually paid for a round of beers at the Eliot when we returned home!”
“No room at the Inn”
“Saying Coach Squires was frugal is an understatement. Low budget or no budget he was determined to get as many athletes to track meets, road races or xc events.
One such adventure in the mid-’70s was the Yale indoor track meet in New Haven. He told the entire Boston State indoor team to be ready to compete at the Ivy League school indoor track meet. He adds “We’re staying on the campus as guests of the university”.
He also tells Bob Sevene there is room for Bentley athletes, a team that trained with BoState frequently.
The bus drives through campus and many figures we’re staying at the athletes’ dorms or campus hotels. We stop in front of the building that reads “Yale Infirmary”!
Coach says “We’re here!”
He then proclaims, “They moved all the sick kids out for just for us & don’t complain it’s a freebie!”
Of course, it was winter break but a classic Squires move!”
“I think one of the funniest but also the coolest thing about Coach Squires was how much he cared about his athletes and we know some of the stories like giving up his bed in a hotel for Dick Beardsley at the Falmouth Road Race and Coach going into sleep in the bathtub with a pillow!
But one of the things I distinctly remember is seeing him along the course of so many races and he would be out there running a lot down the street with a cup of water in his hand…he was so wired…he absolutely love the sport of track and field cross country and marathoning!
You’d see him everywhere and you know that we all appreciated it big time because that’s the difference in that a coach was really out there during the competitions who really showed us his heart and soul and you know he came from the same place that you’re in now is the most competitive sport in the World!
Coach Squires kind of looked a little ridiculous running down the street in street shoes and a jacket on…he had written notes and it had some writing on it or something like that and he would be frantically trying to reach out to me in the middle of the Boston Marathon! You can see a photo of this on the cover of Paul Clerici’s book “Born To Coach” and he did this with all these athletes in supporting us!”
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