One fascinating subplot in the OPRF soccer team’s game against Nazareth last week was the return of Doug Hunt.
Hunt coached both the OPRF boys and girls soccer teams for over 30 years, before calling it quits after the 2006 season. He coached the sophomore soccer team for 18 years before moving on to coach varsity for his final 15 years at OPRF. Hunt left the boys team after 2002 to make way for Paul Wright, and he finished his career at OPRF as the girls varsity coach.
After he concluded his three decade stint as coach following the 2006 girls soccer campaign, Hunt took a job teaching chemistry at Nazareth. Soon, he was tapped to be Nazareth’s head soccer coach as well.
Throughout his 30 years at the helm of OPRF soccer, Hunt left an indelible impression on the program as a whole, and on the entire community of Oak Park and River Forest.
“I wouldn’t say it was my impact, but it was the communities’ impact,” he said following the game on Friday night. “During my time as coach, I saw various soccer clubs like the Strikers and Rapids pop up. Without a community support of soccer, I would not have had the success I did.”
The emergence of club teams has had a tremendous impact on the explosive growth of the OPRF soccer program. Both the Strikers and Rapids clubs have allowed soccer players a chance to play competitively at an early age, in preparation for the high school level.
Hunt’s legacy has had a powerful influence on OPRF’s current boys head coach, Paul Wright. When Wright took over the reigns from Hunt, he was astounded at the organization and the thorough policies and expectations his predecessor had instilled within the program.
“I am a good coach today because of Doug’s guidance,” said Wright. “He has definitely had a positive impact on me as a coach. I have implemented many of his defensive philosophies and tried to build upon them.”
Wright also marveled at Hunt’s ability to help him bring both the Strikers and Rapids together and play on the same program. According to Wright, Hunt’s legacy is on full display in the annual alumni soccer game during the summer.
“I’m having 30-40 players who played under Doug coming out for our alumni games. That shows how much of an impact and a connection he has had on the lives of his players. That right there is Doug’s legacy on the program.”
OPRF got the best of Hunt’s team on Friday night, rolling to a 5-1 victory in the Huskies’ regular season finale at Oak Park Stadium. Steve Golz and Dave Leitson both scored two goals apiece, while Tim McAdam added one. Goalkeeper Granger Shepard finished with nine saves. OPRF entered the Class 3A playoffs this week with an overall record of 17-3-1.