Before he became the Andover Girls Crew Coach, Dale Hurley was handed the two underperforming teams of Blair Academy and the Naval Academy and asked to turn their losses into wins. According to Hurley, all he needed was a little faith.
“Since [Navy and Blair] had gone many years in a row of not doing well — what was required was complete faith that what we were doing was going to work. I called it ‘blind faith’ because I had no proof that what I was telling them to do was going to work — nor was I able to show that it was working each and every day they were at practice,” said Hurley.
“Blind faith” has played a large part in his coaching mantra, but to label his coaching abilities as “blind faith” does not do justice to Hurley’s illustrious and impressive rowing career.
In his freshman year at the Naval Academy, Hurley walked on to the the water-polo team where he sat on the bench for the entire season. Hurley, craving competition, turned to crew, a sport he had never tried before.
With hard work and a little “blind faith,” Hurley made the Navy team. His talent shined at the Academy, pushing him to compete in the National Rowing Championships in an elite lightweight pair after graduation.
Hurley and his partner drew national attention, and he was asked to tryout for the U.S. National Lightweight rowing team. After three laborious weeks on the water, Hurley was cut on the last day of the team selection camp.
Moving on, Hurley reported to his Navy assignment in California where he would stay for the next five months; that was until he received a call from the national team asking him to relocate and tryout again.
Hurley’s hard work earned him a spot on the 1990 team. Each year after that he tried out again, and eventually he competed with five different national teams in 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994 and 1995. In 1991 his crew received the bronze medal under the instruction of current Andover Boys Coach Stewart MacDonald.
Once his career as a rower ended, Hurley began coaching both men and women at a vast array of high schools and colleges, including Blair Academy, the Naval Academy, University of Pennsylvania and University of Tennessee. Eight years ago, Hurley joined the Andover community as a crew Coach, math teacher and House Counselor.
“I really like coaching crew and especially like it when the team is motivated and willing to do the work needed to improve. The Andover Girls squad has been a lot of fun to work with: they know they have a lot of work to do and, more importantly, they are willing to do it,” said Hurley.
The Girls team this year has been completely reshaped by his emphasis on team unity, a balance of fun and hard work, and of course “blind faith.”
“He holds all of us to high standards, but makes us want to achieve success every day. I can truly say that he is the best coach I have ever had, and the program is so lucky to have him, and I know the girls on the team all agree with me,” said Co-Captain Colby Fagan ’14.
Elizabeth Kemp ’15 said, “[Hurley] has completely set the tone for the season this year in that we push ourselves for our teammates so that our entire team gets better together. He has also emphasized that we have to have ‘blind faith’ in each other, that the girls rowing in front and in back of you is going to get the job done as best they can, so you can do the same. We are very lucky to have him and all of us look forward to going to practice everyday.”
Not only is Hurley a dedicated coach, but he is also a dedicated father. His impressive dedication and hard-working mentality reaches beyond the rowing sphere and branches to all aspects of his life.
“I respect him the most because he always would manage to put family first with his rowing career. In 1996 he left the national team, which was going to the Olympics that year, in order to be present for my birth. He is a great rower, coach and father, and I always remember how lucky I am to have him there for me,” said his son, Cooper Hurley ’14.