By Jim Fenton, The Enterprise (Brockton)
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- The first track and field coaching job he had was in 1967 working as an assistant with the first-year Brockton High girls team.
Little did Ed Delgado know at the time that it was the beginning of a 50-year run coaching the sport.
“I would have laughed in their face and said they’re crazy if someone had told me that,″ said Delgado. “I thought I’d do it for a while.
“I didn’t know how long I’d be able to enjoy it, but I kept on enjoying it and kept on getting better as a coach and wanted to keep on going.″
Delgado indeed kept on going, lasting half a century as a track and field head or assistant coach at five schools where he guided well over 1,000 high school and college athletes.
In late May, though, in the capacity of an assistant at Bridgewater State University, Delgado closed the curtain on his 50-year coaching career.
When the NCAA Division 3 Championships in Geneva, Ohio, concluded, so, too, did Delgado’s days as a track and field coach.
And what a run it was for Delgado during stops at Brockton High, Bridgewater State, Bridgewater-Raynham Regional High, Wheaton College, Stonehill College and back at BSU.
“I just look back and think about all the kids that I worked with and all the success they had and all the fun we had,″ said Delgado. “It was just an all-around great experience. I wouldn’t have changed any of it for anything.
“Working with the kids, that was the fun part. It didn’t make a difference if they were super athletes or just average. As long as they were willing to work, that was important. If they improved, that was what I enjoyed the most.″
Delgado, a former Bridgewater resident who now lives on Cape Cod with his wife, Mary, became interested in track and field at a young age.
He started practicing various events at home and wound up learning a little bit about each one, something that came in handy when he embarked on a coaching career.
“I started when I was 10 years old in my side yard,″ said Delgado, who was inducted into the Massachusetts State Track Coaches Hall of Fame in 1990. “I made my own high jump standards, my own pole vault standards. I kind of did all the events. I realized I was prepared to be a coach because I knew a little about all the events.″
Delgado competed in a number of events while attending Oliver Ames High School, graduating in 1959, and earned a spot in the school’s Hall of Fame.
A pre-med major, Delgado graduated from Stonehill in 1963 and was a United States Army research assistant at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Maryland from 1964-66.
He began teaching biology at Brockton High in 1967, retiring in 2000, and kicked off the coaching career that first year at the school.
“Harry Allen was starting a program for girls and we all volunteered to run the program and that’s where it started,″ said Delgado, a member of the Brockton High Hall of Fame. “It was my first year teaching and thought I’d help out because I really liked track. I had no idea where it was going to go.″
Delgado became the boys track and field and cross country coach at Brockton in 1970, staying in that position until 1983.
The Boxers won 16 league titles and 12 state championship with more than 50 athletes winning state crowns. Under Delgado’s watch, the 4x440-yard relay team set the national record in 1979, a mark that wasn’t broken until 1996.
Delgado moved to Bridgewater State where he was the men’s and women’s track and field and cross country coach until 2007, coaching 12 All-Americans.
He then worked as an assistant at Bridgewater-Raynham (where his four children competed), and was an assistant at Wheaton College and Stonehill before returning to BSU in 2014 to assist his daughter, Amy, the Bears women’s coach.
“He really loves the sport,″ said Amy Delgado. “He still reads about high school athletes, checking results. He likes to see how people are doing. We’re always watching track at home.″
Amy Delgado was an All-Northeast-10 Conference sprinter at UMass-Lowell, competing in the NCAA Division 2 Championships five times.
Her brother, Mike, now an assistant coach at Boston University, was a New England champion in the 55-meter hurdles and heptathlon, and earned All-Big East honors at Connecticut.
Delgado’s other two children, Jim (half-mile) and Kate (400) ran track at B-R and his wife won two straight championships in the shot put for Brockton High.
Amy Delgado enjoyed having her father on the BSU coaching staff the past three seasons.
“It really was an unbelievable opportunity to coach with him,″ she said. “I can’t say that many people have the chance to work with their parents on such a close level.
“Having him working with me every day for the last three years has been awesome. He was someone to lean back on and when I second-guessed myself telling me I knew what I was doing and I was doing it right so just trust my instincts.″
While Ed Delgado’s coaching career is over, two of his children continue in the profession at the college level.
“I never pushed either one of them,″ he said. “That was their own decision to go into coaching. It’s nice to see them pick it up and carrying on and being good coaches. It’s a great thing.″
Amy Delgado has been a coach for five years since graduating from UMass-Lowell while Mike Delgado has been coaching 11 years since graduating from UConn.
Both have a long way to go to match the years their father put into the sport.
“It’s a lot of work he did,″ said Amy. “My mother’s been really awesome supporting him and all of us through this process.
“I don’t know if I’ll make it 50 years, but I’m going to hang in there for a while.″