By the numbers, Ron McReavy enjoyed a stellar career coaching cross country and track and field at Cheshire High School. From 1964 to 1989, he compiled a 504-89 record and earned numerous honors, but for people who knew him best, his impact extended far beyond wins and losses.
“When you look back at the history of what he did, Ron built our cross country and track and field programs. He was also well known in the state for moving those sports forward,” said CHS Athletic Director Steve Trifone. “He developed students athletically and in the classroom.”
On Tuesday, Jan. 5, former students, coaches, teachers, and others were saddened by the news that McReavy had passed away at age 82.
“He was a huge mentor for me,” said CHS girls’ outdoor track and field head coach Barbara Hedden. “We could talk back and forth about track. Ron was a great man.”
McReavy, who grew up in Bangor, Maine, came to CHS in the 1960s to teach in the business department. Before retiring after 35 years, he made an impact in areas such as technology.
“He was instrumental in bringing computers into the school. He put in one of the first computer labs,” reflected Trifone.
Athletically, McReavy started the cross country program in 1964 and coached the Rams through 1985. During that stretch, CHS boys won 110 straight meets and captured the 1969 Class M title.
McReavy was named Connecticut Coach of the Year in 1968. When he stepped down in 1987, Rob Schaefer took over the Cheshire program before becoming the inaugural girls’ head coach in 1998.
“When I think of Ron, the word that comes to mind is respect,” said Schaefer. “Everyone admired him and feared him in the way that they knew they would have a tough contest that day.”
Along with coaching cross country, McReavy also made an impact on CHS track and field. He founded the boys’ indoor program and led the team through 1987.
“He was one of the reasons why I got into coaching track and field,” reflected Trifone, who coached the girls’ indoor team before becoming athletic director in the fall of 2003. “Ken Euerle assisted Ron on the team. They worked well together.”
McReavy also coached the outdoor team until 1989. For his efforts, he was named Connecticut Coach of the Year in 1982. Four years later, he was nominated for National Outdoor Track and Field Coach of the Year.
“He was a good competitor and a fair person,” stated Sheehan track and field head coach Charlie Farley. “He loved cross country, track, and the ability to compete.”
When CHS decided to start an outdoor track and field team for girls in 1975, Hedden competed on the inaugural squad and became a captain. She recalls how supportive McReavy was of the new program.
“Cindy Hitchcock and Ralph Zingarella led the girls’ team, but Ron offered to help in any way he could,” stated Hedden.
After coaching cross country and track and field at Mercy in Middletown, Hedden returned to track and field at her alma mater in 1992. She enjoyed working with McReavy again.
“When I started out at a young age, I ran things by him,” reflected Hedden. “He offered ideas and treated me as an equal.”
In coaching at Sheehan since 1967, Farley competed against McReavy’s Rams on many occasions.
“His athletes were always well trained and competitive. At one point, he had a 10-year reign of going unbeaten in the Housatonic League,” reflected Farley.
In the early days of indoor track and field, Farley remembers going to CHS to run meets in the hallways.
“It allowed us to evaluate where we were as a program,” stated Farley. “If we were doing well against them (Cheshire) or won a meet, I knew that we had brought our team to a high level.”
Following his friend’s retirement from coaching, Farley was instrumental in creating the McReavy Invite as a way to honor his contributions. The meet is traditionally run at Wesleyan University in Middletown.
“We wanted to have an indoor meet and thought that naming it after him was a good idea because he was important to getting the sport started in the state,” explained Farley.
Trifone recalls how McReavy served as the first event starter for the Invite.
“I remember him becoming very emotional to have a meet named after him,” said Trifone.
McReavy also fired the starter’s pistol for Cheshire outdoor home meets in the spring for 22 years. He retired from that role in 2012.
“He was good with the kids,” reflected Hedden. “He put everyone at ease on the starting line.”
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Hedden isn’t sure what the 2021 season will look like, but added that the track and field program will surely try to honor McReavy’s memory in the future.