LUCKEY – Richard Morgan still enjoys coaching track and field.
But Eastwood’s girls head coach for the last 22 seasons admits he doesn’t have the same passion for
coaching the sport as when he first started.
For that reason, Morgan is retiring from his position.
However, he’ll continue as Eastwood’s head coach for boys and girls cross country, and will remain a
chemistry and physics teacher at the high school.
The Eagles have been the dominant team in the Suburban Lakes League, winning nine straight and 13 of the
last 14 league championships.
Eastwood has finished first or second in the league every year since 1990, and it was third in 1989. The
Eagles won 14 league titles in all during his tenure.
"Track is a big-time commitment," said Morgan, who was an assistant coach for the Eagles for
four years before he became their head coach. "Like most things, you have to be able put passion
and effort into it to do it right."
Morgan, 53, had been considering retiring for last 2-3 seasons and finally made the decision to retire in
early May after consulting with his wife, Mary, and assistant coach Jack Corken.
"I still enjoy it, but the drive isn’t there any more," he said. "I’d be happy to do it
for a few more years, but the time is a big challenge. I’m not sure I was giving everything it deserved
and knowing that, I wanted to get out before I was mailing it in because that’s not fair to the school
or the kids."
Eastwood was 195-17 in duals under Morgan and hasn’t lost a league dual meet since April 26, 1994.
"We’ve always had a solid team and even our worst years are still OK. I’m proud of our
consistency," said Morgan, who is an avid runner.
Corken, one of Morgan’s best friends, has been the Eagles’ top assistant for the last 16 seasons.
"I can’t imagine having a better assistant coach," Morgan said of Corken. "If I stay late,
he stays late. If I sort uniforms, he sorts uniforms.
"What’s really cool is some girls don’t really know who the head coach is. He has as much say as I
do, he organizes the practices. We think a lot alike, but he also thinks differently than I do and we
always come to an agreement about what we want to do. I’ve never had to pull rank on him."
Morgan also praised assistants Nikki Sabo and Cindy Stanfield, who have helped during recent seasons.
"Our success is a credit to the kids and the staff," Morgan said.
The Eagles finished fifth or lower in the league from 1982-87, including 1987 when they scored just five
points in the SLL meet.
"This team was not very good before we took over and we now have a good tradition here," he
Eastwood improved to fifth in the SLL the next year and has been one of the league’s top teams since.
Morgan said the change happened when Ann Heber, Jennifer Caughey and Julie Caughey came out for the team
in 1988. They were among the school’s best athletes at the time.
"We asked them to come out and they did, but I have no idea why," Morgan said. "At that
time, we asked girls to run for us and they’d usually laugh at us. It just wasn’t a cool thing to do.
"But when we got the those three girls to run for us, they were good athletes and they were popular
kids. That elevated the program a lot
and once you establish that, it perpetuates itself. I think the kids over the years have enjoyed the
sport and they’ve been treated fairly."
Although the Eagles have been successful, Morgan’s also proud of the life lessons he and Corken have
SDLqJack and I work really hard at making sure the kids understand how do things right and for the most
part they do," Morgan said.
"I still want to win, but as you get older, you realize there’s more to it than winning and we’ve
tried really hard to teach about sportsmanship, about effort, about carrying you yourself correctly and
doing things right just because its right thing to do."