IN MEMORIAM: Cheshire mourns the passing of XC/track icon Ron McReavy

IN MEMORIAM: Cheshire mourns the passing of XC/track icon Ron McReavy

CHESHIRE — At Cheshire High School, from 1964 to 1989, Ron McReavy compiled a 504-89 record coaching cross country and track and field. He earned numerous honors.

But for people who knew him well, McReavy’s impact extended far beyond wins and losses, and on Wednesday they were mourning his passing.

“When you look back at the history of what he did, Ron built our cross country and track and field programs,” said Cheshire Athletic Director Steve Trifone. “He was also well known in the state for moving those sports forward. He developed students athletically and in the classroom.”

McReavy died Tuesday at age 82.

“He was a huge mentor for me,” said Cheshire 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 Cheshire High School in the 1960s to teach in the business department. Before retiring in 1990, he made an impact in areas such as technology.

“He was instrumental in bringing computers into the school,” Trifone reflected. “He put in one of the first computer labs.”

Athletically, McReavy started Cheshire’s cross country program in 1964 and continued coaching the Rams through 1985. During that stretch, the Cheshire boys won 110 straight meets and captured the 1969 Class M state title.

McReavy was named Connecticut’s Coach of the Year in 1968. When he stepped down in 1985, Rob Schaefer took over the Cheshire program before becoming the inaugural girls head coach in 1998, a post he’s held ever since.

Along with coaching cross country, McReavy also also made an impact in track and field. He founded Cheshire’s indoor program and led the team through 1987.

“He was one of the reasons why I got into coaching track and field,” said Trifone, who coached in the indoor program before becoming athletic director in the fall of 2003. “Ken Euerle assisted Ron on the team. They worked well together.”

McReavy also coached outdoor track and field until 1989. For his efforts in that sport, McReavy was named Connecticut Coach of the Year in 1982. Four years later, he was a nominee 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 Cheshire 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,” Hedden said.

After coaching cross country and track and field at Mercy in Middletown, Hedden returned to her alma mater to coach girls outdoor track in 1992. She enjoyed being able to work with McReavy again.

“When I started out at a young age, I ran things by him,” Hedden said. “He offered ideas and treated me as an equal.”

As a track and field coah since 1967, first at Lyman Hall and then at Sheehan, Farley competed against McReavy’s Rams on many occasions.

“His athletes were always well-trained and competitive,” Farley recalled. “At one point, he had a 10-year reign of going unbeaten in the Housatonic League.”

In the early days of indoor track and field, Farley remembers going to Cheshire High School to run meets in the hallways.

“It allowed us to evaluate where we were as a program,” said Farley. “If we were doing well against (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 recalled how McReavy served as the first event starter for the invitational.

“I remember him becoming very emotional to have a meet named after him,” said Trifone.

In the spring, McReavy also fired the starter’s pistol for Cheshire outdoor home meets 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.”

“It was great to have Ron stay involved,” added Trifone. “He had a lot of knowledge in track and field.”

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Hedden isn’t sure what the 2020 track season will look like in the spring, but added that the Cheshire program will surely try to honor McReavy’s memory in the future.

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