Hall legend Reds Hucht gives up coaching at 80 Swimming excellence is legacy of oldest coach

March 07, 1997|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,SUN STAFF

Frustrated and annoyed by his swimmers' unwillingness to train year-round, Reds Hucht retired yesterday as Calvert Hall's coach.

He will, however, continue to direct the Knights of Columbus-Orchards age-group team of boys and girls that also practices at Calvert Hall's appropriately named Hucht Pool. He is in his 54th year of coaching.

At 80, the oldest high school head coach in any sport in metropolitan Baltimore, Hucht started at Calvert Hall, his alma mater, in 1960. His no-nonsense approach to swimming produced 23 Maryland Scholastic Association championships.

"I always said that as long as I enjoy it, I'll continue," Hucht said before the school's winter sports banquet last night, during which the principal, Brother Kevin Stanton, made the retirement announcement.

But during the high school season that just ended, Hucht's enjoyment diminished. Attendance at practice over Christmas was down. No Calvert Hall boys trained year-round. He wasn't getting the response needed to compete with archrival Loyola.

"These kids would rather ski or have some social activity than swim," Hucht said. "I don't want a social club. I'm in this to win."

At the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association championships last month, Calvert Hall was behind Loyola and Gilman, barely edging McDonogh for third.

From 1991 to 1994, Calvert Hall won four straight titles in the old Maryland Scholastic Association. Loyola captured the MIAA crown the past three years, and it was during that period that the Hall's decline became noticeable.

The Cardinals, who had won, tied or finished second to Loyola for the MSA championship every year since 1964, lost a dual meet to McDonogh last year for the first time in 31 years and wound up third behind McDonogh in the MIAAs.

The Hall beat McDonogh in its dual this year, only to finish third in the MIAA championships. Hucht had had enough.

"I'm not enjoying this," he said. "These kids just won't train year-round. To be competitive, you have to. It's time to pass on the job to someone else."

His successor, whoever it is, will be attempting to replace a Baltimore legend.

"It's a great loss for Calvert Hall, but he'll still be an integral part of the school, as KCO coach and craftsman," Brother Kevin said, referring to Hucht's abilities as pool operator, mechanic, cabinetmaker, and dry-wall man, with a workshop under the pool.

Brother Kevin recalled that on Sept. 24, when The Sun published an article about Hucht on his 80th birthday, teachers and staffers offering congratulations finally found him on the football field with a truckload of lumber repairing the stands.

"He's a talented person who does so much for the school," Brother Kevin said. "We're sad to see his 37-year Calvert Hall coaching career end, but we respect his decision, and we're happy he'll still be a presence here. He's a force, not only at the school but in Baltimore."

Hucht was hired in 1960 by the athletic director, Brother Andrew Dinoto. At the banquet last night, Brother Kevin brought in Brother Andrew, now 87, to present a plaque to the venerable coach in recognition of his countless contributions to the school.

Pub Date: 3/07/97

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