Coach spotlight: Eddie Hunt

Ed Marlowe
Staff writer

Paducah, Ky., native Eddie Hunt is in his 10th year as coach and led the 2010 team to the first Racer OVC Championship since 1991.

File photo

Men’s golf coach Eddie Hunt graduated from Paducah Tilghman High School having played football, basketball and baseball. Golf was just an afterthought.

“At that time not many people were playing golf or tennis,” Hunt said. “Most people didn’t have access to the golf courses. It was a basketball, baseball and football world back then.”

Originally from the Paducah, Ky., area, Hunt has made Murray his home away from home.

Hunt came to Murray State because it was close by and he liked the school which he said was a familiar place to reach his goals of teaching and coaching sports.

“My goal was to teach and coach – I’ve always been involved in athletics,” he said.

When Hunt graduated from Murray State in 1966, the Vietnam War was in full throttle. Having completed ROTC while at Murray State, Hunt was automatically commissioned as an officer six months after graduation.

“ROTC was one of the smartest decisions I ever made as a young man,” he said. “I was in the service for two years and when I got out, I came back to Murray to do graduate work.”

After completing his master’s in education at Murray State in 1969, Hunt discovered his love for tennis while playing with current men’s tennis coach Mel Purcell.

“I started playing with Mel Purcell when he was 10 or 12 years old,” he said. “That’s how I got my tennis game.”

Hunt continued to work on his game, so much that he was the No. 1 ranked tennis player in Kentucky for two years.

Hunt retired from tennis when too many activities entered the picture. He then shifted his focus to business management by opening and co-managing Dennison-Hunt Sporting Goods in Murray for almost 29 years, sponsoring several Murray State athletic programs during that time.

Hunt said he always maintained a close, professional relationship with Murray State athletics partly out of love of sports, but also out of respect for student athletes.

It was then Hunt started playing golf regularly, using the game as a social outlet to reach out to friends.

“In 2001, Coach Buddy Hewitt was set to retire as the men’s golf coach,” he said. “They couldn’t find anybody they wanted to hire, so they asked me in the middle of August to be interim coach for a year.”

Hunt learned the ropes of coaching at the OVC level with the assistance of current women’s golf coach Velvet Milkman, making his first year much easier to handle, he said.

“I enjoyed the kids and I enjoyed the travel,” he said. “When the first year was up, I applied for the job.”

Hunt believes his early recruiting success to be one of the reasons he’s still coaching at Murray State.

“I really got a good nucleus of kids to start off the next four years,” he said. “I was able to build on that because I put a big emphasis on recruiting. There are a lot of good programs locally, so I focus on local kids.”

Hunt said he will never forget his first college coaching experience for as long as he lives.

“It was in Cape Girardeau, Mo., playing our first college golf tournament of the season,” he said. “I was in the pro shop, and I looked up at the TV screen and that’s when 9/11 happened.”

Ten years later Hunt is still relishing in the game of golf, the excitement of team travel and the attitude student athletes have who compete week in and week out.

“Although I’m a little older, I still enjoy the relationship with the student athletes,” Hunt said. “I really enjoy the travel. I try to make our schedule to where we can travel around the U.S. and represent Murray State and be competitive.”

In Hunt’s time as coach, the Racers have come away with 27 team victories and while coaching is still entertaining for Hunt, he said he enjoys winter break to get away from everything and spend time with his wife, former Lanette Underwood of Murray.

“In January and February, my wife and I try to go to Florida and spend a little time there and kind of relax,” he said.

Hunt spends his summers playing a lot of golf and following current, previous and future Murray State golfers. He also keeps a keen eye on Racer athletics, using season tickets to attend home games for basketball, football and baseball.

“I never miss a home football game or basketball game if I’m in town,” he said.

When Hunt isn’t spending time watching or coaching athletics, he and his wife take in a movie at the Cheri or one of the many Broadway shows in Paducah or Louisville.

“The last good movie I saw was ‘The Help,’” he said. “And before that, I really enjoyed seeing ‘The King’s Speech.’”

Whether on the road traveling or home in Murray, Hunt said he enjoys a simple cuisine most days.

“My players say they can order for me,” he said. “Steak well-done, baked potato with extra butter and a salad with extra ranch.”

Family is also very important to Hunt. After raising two sons, Jason and Jeremy, Hunt said he had a small break before grandchildren were on the way.

“We really enjoy keeping up with our grandkids,” he said. “And that will keep you busy.”

Men’s golf tees off again Monday and Tuesday for the Cardinal Intercollegiate at Cardinal Club in Louisville, Ky.

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