Among the many coach-athlete disputes that occurred on campuses the past couple of years (SI, Aug. 25 el seq.) was the one last December at Rhode Island's Providence College in which Track Coach Ray Hanlon, a strict disciplinarian, ordered that a TV set be removed from a room shared by four members of his cross-country team. The athletes resisted, and Hanlon suspended them. Other runners quit in sympathy, the team was disbanded, the track program dropped and at the end of the school year Hanlon was dismissed as coach.
This summer the college reactivated track and hired a part-time coach named Bob Amato, a former Providence runner who is now a physics and science teacher at East Providence High School The first thing Amato did was write to those members of the disbanded squad who would be coming back to school. "I had no idea what the response would be," he says now. "I didn't know if we would have enough for a team or whether any of them would want to come out at all. But of the 15, all but three came out and are still on the squad. Of the three who didn't, two are studying in Italy this year and the third had an injury that kept him from running."
Amato says he has been aware of no carryover of last year's dissent. "There has been only complete willingness," he adds, "and sometimes to a degree that has surprised me. I called a special practice for 10 o'clock on a Sunday morning, and everyone was there ahead of time, waiting to get going."
Amato uses none of the strict Hanlon rules that brought on the ferment. His attitude, he says, is that his charges are college men who know what they have to do if they want to be successful and that he is there to help.
So far, the relaxed approach seems to be paying off. A year ago the Providence cross-country squad had a 7-3 record in dual meets and won both the team and individual titles at the Eastern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference run. This year the dual meet record was 8-2, and again Providence took team and individual titles at the Easterns.
But last year at this time dissension was beginning to tear the team apart. Now there appears to be only harmony and purpose. Marty Robb, the team's star, said last week, "Now it's a sport again, not a way of life."
And television? Ray Labonte, the team captain, grinned and said, "We even watch a little of that now."
For many years the weakfish, a dining delicacy and, despite its soft mouth, a popular game fish, was one of the common prizes caught off the Northeastern coast of the U.S. Suddenly, in the mid-1950s, the species virtually disappeared, and some scientists, who believed its major nursery grounds to be in the North Carolina sounds, blamed the wipeout on commercial trawlers off the Carolina coast that scoop up thousands of pounds of fish—trash and otherwise—to sell to the cat-food industry.