People of the Year: Dan Hunt

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Coach Dan Hunt has led Colgate football to three league championships in four years.

Zach Schiller, Maroon-News Staff

Each year, The Colgate Maroon-News chooses a topic to highlight for a Special Edition. This December, our theme is “People of the Year,” modeled after Time Magazine’s annual “Person of the Year” issue. In this special section, we have profiled sixteen individuals who have had made significant—and perhaps lesser-known—impacts on Colgate’s campus this year, be they in the classroom, at the football field or even on the Cruiser. Inside, read about what defines them as worthy of recognition.

The key to footballs playoff victory over James Madison University on December 1, and the success of this entire football season, can be traced back to the 1997 championship game against Bucknell University. Down one point in overtime, Colgate attempted a two-point conversion to win the game and the Patriot League title. The play was not successful, but it had an incredible impact on establishing a winning culture at Colgate.

“We didn’t do it, but it set the tone, you are here to win,” Head Football Coach Dan Hunt said.

In his time at Colgate, first as an assistant and now as head coach, Coach Hunt has consistently preached about having a winning culture. To create and sustain a winning culture, Hunt relies on his players to buy in to a certain mindset.

“The minute last season ended these guys flat-out committed to the idea that we are going to be even better, we are going to compete on a national level,” Hunt said.

The level of commitment of the players is evident in many who stay on campus at their own expense to train for the upcoming season, typically not leaving campus, unless for games, until Thanksgiving break. Though, the team was not looking that far ahead at the time training camp started.

“This team has never looked ahead and said alright, we are two wins from a title, they just kept that focus so tight and so narrow on what they have to do that day that it’s never strayed. We preach that all the time, but this group has done that,” Hunt said.

In addition to his team’s physical commitment and preparation, he also highlights the team’s mental toughness and ability to block out distractions as keys to their incredible success thus far.

“When we’re together as a team, the players never talked about the shutout streak, they never talked about being undefeated. They just talked about ‘what do we have to do today? How do we get better?’” Hunt said.

Even though his main job is to win football games, Coach Hunt is also greatly concerned with the development and accountability of his players off the field, pushing them to become better students and better men. The idea is to hold a high standard across the board.

“If we’re the number #8 team in the country and [say] you are a scout team offensive lineman, [then] you better be a top ten scout team offensive lineman in the country. We then spread that into everything. You better be a top ten student, you better be a top ten citizen, everything about you should be striving to be that,” Hunt said.

Developing a great rapport with the university, especially one as community-oriented as Colgate, can only serve to benefit a coach and his program. Hunt takes this message to heart.

“Every Colgate alumn I meet is such an interesting person and usually a successful person, and usually a pretty fun person. It has just been a great environment for me to grow as a coach and raise my family and coach the type of kids I want to coach,” Hunt said.

Considering most players will never play their entire career for the same coach that recruited them in today’s college football environment, Hunt’s unwavering commitment to Colgate and its players is impressive.

“Obviously you get opportunities to go other places when you are successful, but the type of person that chooses to play here and be here is the type of person that I want to be around,” Hunt said.

In addition to his relationship with the school, Hunt has embraced his relationship with the town of Hamilton as well.

“I like to play golf and I go to Rusch’s every now and then. It’s just being a part of the town, being a part of the community,” Hunt said.

Finding a coach who meets Colgate’s standards of excellence both on and off the field and inspires their players to do the same can be challenging. However, as Hunt has shown over the past quarter century, he is the right man for that job. His commitment to winning in all facets of life, not just on the football field, embodies the drive for excellence shared throughout the Colgate community. Through his relationships with his players, the university, the surrounding community of Hamilton, and his winning attitude, Hunt exemplifies the type of characteristics the Colgate community should strive for.

Contact Zach Schiller at [email protected]