Jon Stableford Wins in Last Home Race After Twenty Year Career as Cross Country Coach

Last Saturday, Jon Stableford ’63 coached his last home race as Head Coach of Boys’ Cross Country, concluding his twenty-year coaching career at Andover. Over forty Cross Country alumni who ran under Stableford returned to Andover for a surprise reunion in celebration of his last home race. Coach Stableford graduated from Andover in 1963, and after attending Williams College and Wesleyan University, returned to Andover in 1976 as a member of the teaching staff. Stableford has held many prestigious positions at Andover, including Dean of Students, Cluster Dean, Chair of the English Department, Varsity Football and Hockey Coach, and most recently, Head Coach of the Boy’s Cross Country Team. When Stableford arrived at Andover as a faculty member in 1976, he already had nine years of teaching experience. He had taught at Wesleyan as a graduate student and had eight years of experience at Winchester High School. Stableford immediately took on many different roles at Andover, as he coached both the Varsity Football and Hockey teams. After Stableford finished his tenure as Dean of Students in 1990, a group of devoted Cross Country Runners asked Stableford if he would be their coach for the next season. Stableford jumped at the chance to try a new sport, “I love sports and they have always been an important part of my life. I really enjoyed running when I first started coaching Cross Country because it gave me the chance not only to learn a new sport and how it works, but also because it allowed me to exercise while I coached” said Stableford during a personal interview. Stableford continued, “As I started to run races, including a few marathons myself, running became an important part of my life and it really helps my physical and mental health. Running makes me happy.” Stableford’s record is unmatched by any other coach in the history of NEPSAC Cross Country. During his twenty years as coach, his teams have compiled a phenomenal five Interscholastic Championship wins, and have never finished lower than fourth place at Interschols. Assistant Coach Jeff Domina commented on Stableford’s coaching style: “What matters more to Coach [Stableford] more than anything is that he tries to instill a love of running as a part of life and a healthy lifestyle. I have always appreciated his commitment to devoting his time and passion to not only the top varsity runners but to the newest beginners in the training group.” Course record holder Pablo Durana ’02 came to Andover never having run with a team before, though he had ran with a club team that focused only on individual development. Durana had a very different experience running at Andover. He said, “When I first came in as a new Upper, Coach Stableford was really supportive and really made me feel like a part of the team. Coach invited me along with the other varsity runners to his house in Vermont for a week and I thought that was really special because he not only hosted the team at his house but he also trained with us and did all the workouts that we did. I had the opportunity to run with a really great group of guys. Coach made me love running more than I ever had before.” Captain Geoff Kwok ’10 remembers how Stableford always supported him and pushed him to be the best runner he could be: “I will always remember how I used to struggle with even the easiest runs. One time we were running in the sanctuary and I was struggling up the long hill to the log cabin. Coach ran with me the whole way and in no time we were at the top of the hill. When we reached the downhill section of the course, coach pushed me to pass him on the way down always supporting me even though I was much slower than the top runners. That is what coach is all about, helping everyone enjoy the experience.” However, Stableford’s incredible record is still not complete. He and one of his best teams ever will travel to Northfield Mount Hermon next Saturday as the team guns for its sixth championship win under Stableford.