When you have lived the life and built the type of career Dave Huntley did, there are countless lives impacted by your life’s work. When that life is taken too soon, it leaves those closest to you searching for answers and thinking back fondly to the both type of person you were, and the time you spent together. The outpouring of memories from fellow coaches, former teammates, current and former players, and numerous others Coach Huntley interacted with through the years painted a picture of a man who left a lasting impact on this world.
We at Lacrosse All Stars thought it would be best to amplify one of those voices to help remember Dave Huntley on a more personal level. What he did went well beyond the coaching sideline, so we asked Spencer Ford from the Atlanta Blaze if he would like to share some thoughts. Spencer humbly accepted and below is our interview with him. We also encourage those of you who knew Dave Huntley to use the comments section below to share a story or two of your own.
LAS: Dave was much more than just a coworker with you on the Blaze. What kind of figure was he in your life, both in lacrosse and out?
SF: He was my best friend, we spoke every day for the last 3 years. He was great to my family. He is my son Jaxson’s God Dad and we are very lucky to know that he has an angel looking down on him.
A few years ago I went through a rough time and he was a big believer in me. I coached at Calvert Hall on the JV, he was always around and making sure I was good and that I felt like I meant something to him. I am as hard-headed as they come, he was one of very few who could keep me thinking the right way and he always challenged me in such a comforting way…. it’s not fun being wrong, but with Hunts it seemed to be OK!
LAS: What was he like off the field, when you weren’t talking about lacrosse?
SF: He was the greatest friend a person could ask for. He always wanted to talk about my sons and my wife Lindsey and we would share stories about our families…. this was every day for the last 3 plus years.
LAS: What was it that drove him to do so much for the game? He was involved in every level of the game as a player, coach, and administrator. Why was he so passionate?
SF: He loved the locker room. It’s a special place for all of us as it’s the only time the issues of the world don’t come into play. No race, no color, no nothing. Just a group prepping for a game that can only be won with the effort of a group! He loved it and he was so good at it.
LAS: You have mentioned before that he had a comical side which others may not have seen. Was there a time that he made a joke in a really tense moment to put the players around him at ease?
SF: Dorsey Levins did our pregame speeches and he told a joke about Superman and the Invisible man…. Hunts was not in the room for the speech as he wanted Dorsey to be with the players alone…. we would go in 15 min before our time to run out and each of us would speak… the game was huge and one that we needed and he of course went to the joke and made sure that all left the locker room with a smile on their faces. Many of the jokes were inappropriate for release, but boy did he make us laugh!
LAS: What is something he did for the game that you don’t think can ever be replicated?
SF: Besides the skill and the smarts behind it that he drilled into his players, his analytical side was so far ahead of any other. I don’t believe coaches and players alike will get behind the numbers and percentages at each position the way Hunts did. If Billy Bean existed in lacrosse, a piece of him was certainly in Coach Hunts. His ability to see attributes in players was like no other.
LAS: Many people have been saying how great he was at forming personal relationships with those around him, always making everyone feel welcome. Can you describe a time where he really went above and beyond what somebody was expecting?
SF: I don’t know if it was any one time. I truly believe that he was so engaged in you as a person that it was easy to put passion in your words knowing that he was 100% engaged. In 2016, when our former owner released Coach Tucker of his duties, his first game as the head coach was at the Bayhawks. Coach Hunts made it about the players and asked each one of them to tell us what their reason for playing was, why were they there, and what did they want from the season and game. It eventually went to Ryan Tucker and I just remember how easy Hunts made it for Ryan to open up. He took a miserable and confusing situation and made it comfortable and easy to buy in to what we wanted to accomplish.
LAS: Was there anything about him that not many people knew, but was fundamental to who he was as a person?
SF: He loved great food and wine. Loved to travel with his family, and the first thing he would mention was the different wines that he and Mrs. Nancy would drink. He also loved to grill. I believe his shrimp and jalapeños are, in his words, “Better than Popositos.” He also loved to tailgate for the Ravens games with his friends, business partner and his son Kevin.
LAS: Anything else to add that we did not ask about?
SF: As I said in the Blaze release, I thought the world of the man. He was more than a best friend, he was god to me. Anyone who knew Dave Huntley or knew of him knows that this world has lost a lacrosse genius and a spectacular person.