I woke up from a nap and saw that Charles Torpey died. He was to LaSalle University track and cross country coach for years and if you know where that is, it's thanks to him. He made the Explorers an absolute powerhouse in the Atlantic 10 over the past decade. When Richmond joined the conference, LaSalle was bulldozing its way to cross country titles left and right. The meets looked more like scrimmages for the Explorers and although there was a little more parity as the decade went on, Lasalle always made its presence known.
As my collegiate career ended, I wanted to take time to get to know some of our competitors, but when I got right down to it, I only got to know Torp. I watched a few track races with him and a few of his guys and listened to his commentary, which was at once honest, insightful and hilarious. I knew he had, at times, contentious relationships with his rival coaches, and it just so happened of everything I heard about, I ended up supporting his arguments.
The most extensive meeting was at the conference cross country meet in 2008, when I joined Joe DeMatteis and a slew of other coaches at the hotel's bar. Torp regaled us with stories for a few hours, and I came to appreciate what a fine coach and person he was. Not that I needed to know more about what a good coach he was- my buddy Tom chose to run for him after college, and Sean Quigley stuck with him for his professional career. I got to observe the interplay between Torp and Todd Witzleben, one of his star athletes earlier in the decade who was now assisting him at LaSalle, and really appreciated the relationship they had.
The last time I saw him was at the Swarthmore meet, during which I only wanted to catch the LaSalle guy in my 5k heat. I felt like without any Spiders in the race, catching an Explorer was my definition of success because I just respected them so damn much. I told him as much after the race. He told me that his athlete, a freshman, had come into school slower than 10:00 for two miles and had just finished off his season with a big PR. He exuded pride in his young athlete and hope for what he would do in the future.
Whenever discussion of collegiate athletics turns to putting a school on the map, I can unequivocally say Charles Torpey did a fantastic job making LaSalle known the right way, making it an option for a lot of distance runners in their college search it would not otherwise have been, and the Atlantic 10 conference is richer for it.
4 hours ago