PHILADELPHIA -- There are many pictures in the office of Kevin Quinn, the man who coached nearly every St. Joseph's runner for the past 49 years. After all that time, one picture stands out to the retiring coach.
The picture is from 1979. Joe Genther, a gangly runner, gasps for air as he crosses the finish line to win the 1,000-meter run in the IC4A indoor championships at Princeton. In the background chasing Genther are three runners from Richmond, Farleigh Dickinson and Villanova, all of whom went on to make Kenya's Olympic team later in their athletic careers.
"It's the first thing you see when you go into my office," Quinn, 75, said of the picture. "He was this unheralded high school graduate, winning it, set our school record, qualified for the NCAA meet. It was just extraordinary."
During his lengthy tenure at St. Joe's, Quinn watched from the sidelines for countless extraordinary moments, including the university's only individual NCAA championship when Donna Crumety won the triple jump in 1991. All told, Quinn presided over Hawks runners for 147 seasons, spending 23 years with men's cross-country and track from 1966-88 and 31 years with the women's cross-country and track teams from 1985-2015.
He announced his retirement on Monday. Now Quinn will take on a new role atop Hawk Hill as a fan watching sagely from the stands.
"There really is not any master plan," he says. "My wife and I are just going to kick back, relax and enjoy the summer."
Quinn coached 40 NCAA qualifiers, nine all-Americans and 10 ECAC/IC4A champions at St. Joe's. But Quinn won't be remembered solely for the accolades he collected during nearly half a century at the university.
"I am the master of the cliches," he says with a chuckle. His strategy for offering guidance to athletes often revolves around preaching in banalities. The athletes he coaches often greet Quinn's advice with an eye roll and mild protest.
"They don't like [the] cliches because they're true," he explained. "It drives these kids crazy."