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Born to Coach: The Story of Bill Squires, the Legendary Coach of the Greater Boston Track Club

Born to Coach: The Story of Bill Squires, the Legendary Coach of the Greater Boston Track Club - Paul Clerici

Born to Coach: The Story of Bill Squires, the Legendary Coach of the Greater Boston Track Club


From tasting his own blood while running hard as a Notre Dame miler to producing the top US marathon legends in the epicenter of the running boom of the 1970s and into the 80s, Bill Squires not only survived being born with a misdiagnosed and potentially fatal defective heart, but the late-developing skinny kid also amassed numerous track records as a collegiate All-American while struggling academically.

As the first coach of the groundbreaking Greater Boston Track Club, Bill Squires was the key figure in the creation of the greatest generation of American distance runners. Coaching for years at all levels, it is with this vast accumulation of firsthand knowledge and experience that legendary Olympians and major marathon champions such as Bill Rodgers, Alberto Salazar, Greg Meyer, Dick Beardsley, wheelchair champ Bob Hall, and more, individually and with GBTC dominated the landscape and set the pace for future generations via Bill's innovative race simulators and group-training techniques that are still used today. Proof of his determination and perseverance appeared early as he survived the physical and emotional childhood trauma and effects of a misdiagnosis that stunted his emotional and physical growth. He continually pushed himself through personal pain in competition and maturation; found his eventual athletic calling as a record-setting runner; and became the highly sought-after benevolent ambassador of running as a coach.

He is proof that one should never give up.

Coach Bill Squires turned a bunch of wacky, individualistic Boston runners into marathon elites in part because he shared the same traits ƒ‚‚"ƒ‚‚€ƒ‚‚" he's wacky and individualistic. And very, very smart about training for road-race success. I only got to train with Squires and the Greater Boston Track Club a couple of times in my career, but those workouts were among the hardest ƒ‚‚"ƒ‚‚€ƒ‚‚" and most fun ƒ‚‚"ƒ‚‚€ƒ‚‚" I ever did. I'll never forget those runs. ƒ‚‚"ƒ‚‚€ƒ‚‚"Ambrose "Amby" Burfoot, 1968 Boston Marathon winner, Runner's World editor-at-large, author

Coach Billy Squires, as we affectionately called him, is a remarkable human being as well as a brilliant coach. He is always generous with his time and we've had many conversations over the years. I know him as a very thoughtful and articulate man with a sense of humor. Not only did he train Alberto Salazar, Dick Beardsley, Bill Rodgers, and Greg Meyer, to name a few, but he takes time to chat with many of us in the running community. I remember him at the Boston Marathon year after year and we'd sit and talk about the old days and the new days. I never had a coach, but if I had, I would have wanted it to be Coach Squires. He often said he wished he'd known me 40 or 50 years ago, and I'd smile. I always look forward to our chats and wish there had been more of them. He's a great coach and a wonderful person. I have a huge amount of respect and affection for him. ƒ‚‚"ƒ‚‚€ƒ‚‚"Roberta Bobbi Gibb, three-time winner of the Boston Marathon (1966-68) and the first woman to finish the race

In the fall of 1973, my junior year at Boston State College, I approached my teacher, Bill Squires. Bill was my physical education health and fitness instructor. Classes were always full of engaging conversation, and no one missed them. Bill was also the coach of the Greater Boston Track Club as well as for Boston State College. After class, I asked Bill if he would coach me to do the first National Wheelchair Mile the following summer. The record was under seven minutes (6:53). I thought I could do it. He looked at me, shaking his head, 'Do you know what that is? That's four back-to-back quarter miles ƒ‚‚ ƒ‚‚€ƒ‚‚ in a wheelchair ' I told him I could do it. Bill gave me a workout schedule and told me to see him in the spring. I followed up in the spring and told him I was ready. He realized that I was committed and gave me a track program and told me to keep in touch.

The day before I was to leave for the Mile, I saw him in the hallway at school. I called his name and he turned and smiled. He said, 'Look, I've sent two guys to the nationals, the third coming back a champion. Here's what you're going to do. Someone is going to break away; don't worry. Tuck in, say, around fourth place. At 300 yards coming out of the corner, sprint to the finish.' To my amazement, it happened just like that. I broke the record by four seconds (6:49). I was so proud wearing my Boston State College uniform and Converse running flats that he had given me.

After doing the World Championship, I went to Bill again about doing the Boston Marathon. He told me I was nuts, but he gave me a distance training program. As part of this training, I did part of the Marathon route during a race in February called the Washington Day Marathon. Bill followed me in his station wagon ƒ‚‚"ƒ‚‚€ƒ‚‚" encouraging me and stopping traffic. He was spinning around in a very dangerous intersection, flapping his hands, stopping traffic in all directions, urging me to come through. He looked like a scarecrow When I was approaching Heartbreak Hill, he got out of his car and waved me to stop. He yelled, 'You did it You did it It's all downhill. You did the Boston Marathon ' He presented me with a medal, which I cherish to this day. Eventually doing the actual Boston Marathon, Bill helped me accomplish my goal of breaking three hours in 1975 (2:58:00) and receive a certificate for all future entrants (but the beef stew was gone). All with the encouragement of my coach, Bill Squires. ƒ‚‚"ƒ‚‚€ƒ‚‚"Bob Hal

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From tasting his own blood while running hard as a Notre Dame miler to producing the top US marathon legends in the epicenter of the running boom of the 1970s and into the 80s, Bill Squires not only survived being born with a misdiagnosed and potentially fatal defective heart, but the late-developing skinny kid also amassed numerous track records as a collegiate All-American while struggling academically.

As the first coach of the groundbreaking Greater Boston Track Club, Bill Squires was the key figure in the creation of the greatest generation of American distance runners. Coaching for years at all levels, it is with this vast accumulation of firsthand knowledge and experience that legendary Olympians and major marathon champions such as Bill Rodgers, Alberto Salazar, Greg Meyer, Dick Beardsley, wheelchair champ Bob Hall, and more, individually and with GBTC dominated the landscape and set the pace for future generations via Bill's innovative race simulators and group-training techniques that are still used today. Proof of his determination and perseverance appeared early as he survived the physical and emotional childhood trauma and effects of a misdiagnosis that stunted his emotional and physical growth. He continually pushed himself through personal pain in competition and maturation; found his eventual athletic calling as a record-setting runner; and became the highly sought-after benevolent ambassador of running as a coach.

He is proof that one should never give up.

Coach Bill Squires turned a bunch of wacky, individualistic Boston runners into marathon elites in part because he shared the same traits ƒ‚‚"ƒ‚‚€ƒ‚‚" he's wacky and individualistic. And very, very smart about training for road-race success. I only got to train with Squires and the Greater Boston Track Club a couple of times in my career, but those workouts were among the hardest ƒ‚‚"ƒ‚‚€ƒ‚‚" and most fun ƒ‚‚"ƒ‚‚€ƒ‚‚" I ever did. I'll never forget those runs. ƒ‚‚"ƒ‚‚€ƒ‚‚"Ambrose "Amby" Burfoot, 1968 Boston Marathon winner, Runner's World editor-at-large, author

Coach Billy Squires, as we affectionately called him, is a remarkable human being as well as a brilliant coach. He is always generous with his time and we've had many conversations over the years. I know him as a very thoughtful and articulate man with a sense of humor. Not only did he train Alberto Salazar, Dick Beardsley, Bill Rodgers, and Greg Meyer, to name a few, but he takes time to chat with many of us in the running community. I remember him at the Boston Marathon year after year and we'd sit and talk about the old days and the new days. I never had a coach, but if I had, I would have wanted it to be Coach Squires. He often said he wished he'd known me 40 or 50 years ago, and I'd smile. I always look forward to our chats and wish there had been more of them. He's a great coach and a wonderful person. I have a huge amount of respect and affection for him. ƒ‚‚"ƒ‚‚€ƒ‚‚"Roberta Bobbi Gibb, three-time winner of the Boston Marathon (1966-68) and the first woman to finish the race

In the fall of 1973, my junior year at Boston State College, I approached my teacher, Bill Squires. Bill was my physical education health and fitness instructor. Classes were always full of engaging conversation, and no one missed them. Bill was also the coach of the Greater Boston Track Club as well as for Boston State College. After class, I asked Bill if he would coach me to do the first National Wheelchair Mile the following summer. The record was under seven minutes (6:53). I thought I could do it. He looked at me, shaking his head, 'Do you know what that is? That's four back-to-back quarter miles ƒ‚‚ ƒ‚‚€ƒ‚‚ in a wheelchair ' I told him I could do it. Bill gave me a workout schedule and told me to see him in the spring. I followed up in the spring and told him I was ready. He realized that I was committed and gave me a track program and told me to keep in touch.

The day before I was to leave for the Mile, I saw him in the hallway at school. I called his name and he turned and smiled. He said, 'Look, I've sent two guys to the nationals, the third coming back a champion. Here's what you're going to do. Someone is going to break away; don't worry. Tuck in, say, around fourth place. At 300 yards coming out of the corner, sprint to the finish.' To my amazement, it happened just like that. I broke the record by four seconds (6:49). I was so proud wearing my Boston State College uniform and Converse running flats that he had given me.

After doing the World Championship, I went to Bill again about doing the Boston Marathon. He told me I was nuts, but he gave me a distance training program. As part of this training, I did part of the Marathon route during a race in February called the Washington Day Marathon. Bill followed me in his station wagon ƒ‚‚"ƒ‚‚€ƒ‚‚" encouraging me and stopping traffic. He was spinning around in a very dangerous intersection, flapping his hands, stopping traffic in all directions, urging me to come through. He looked like a scarecrow When I was approaching Heartbreak Hill, he got out of his car and waved me to stop. He yelled, 'You did it You did it It's all downhill. You did the Boston Marathon ' He presented me with a medal, which I cherish to this day. Eventually doing the actual Boston Marathon, Bill helped me accomplish my goal of breaking three hours in 1975 (2:58:00) and receive a certificate for all future entrants (but the beef stew was gone). All with the encouragement of my coach, Bill Squires. ƒ‚‚"ƒ‚‚€ƒ‚‚"Bob Hal

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