Harry Huntley did not set out to be a coach.
His intention was to be an involved parent, to find a way to spend more time with his children and bond over their common love of golf.
Yet, happenstance — and a little bait and switch — led Huntley down a path of great success as the coach of A.C. Flora’s golf teams.
“(Then athletics director) Bob Reynolds tricked me,” said Huntley, a father of four and CPA by trade.
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In 1999, Huntley’s second son was in seventh grade, and the Falcons were developing a junior varsity program. Huntley volunteered to be a parent assistant for the fledgling team.
“But the first week of school, at open house, he announced to everybody that I was the golf coach,” Huntley said.
Caught off guard, the dad was not sure he could coach. He certainly had no idea that over the next 13 years he would lead the Falcons to seven boys’ golf state titles and the program’s first girls’ title. Huntley, who did not play golf in high school or college, believes his initial doubt about his ability spurred him, as he sought advice and support from friends and golf pros.
The consensus was that Huntley’s humility and genuine desire to help kids were ample qualification.
Still, Huntley was surprised when the Falcons’ administration asked him to continue as coach for a second season.
By his third season, the state titles began to roll in. Then, as now, Huntley was reluctant to take credit.
“I feel like I’m a lucky coach,” he said. “The kids are the ones doing all the work. Really, I just have to get them ready to play.”
He attributes his success to his experience parenting.
“A lot of it, like parenting, is about having high expectations,” he said.
Sherry Bradshaw, mother of former Falcons Brewer, Thomas and Collins Bradshaw, spoke highly of Huntley.
“He had the unbelievable gift to get the best out of my kids,” she said. “He gave them so much positive.”
Bradshaw said even without his pro card or prior coaching experience, Huntley was the ideal coach.
“He’s the three-in-one that I think most programs need. My kids were tremendously helped by him because they had a coach who had the heart of a dad, the heart of a coach and the heart of a player,” she said.
Over the years, Huntley has had the opportunity to coach three of his children — Fielder was a member of the first championship team; Kathryn is a junior and was on the Falcons’ championship team in 2010, and Jennings is a sophomore with the boys’ team.
Bradshaw marveled at that.
“It takes a special parent to be a coach, too,” she said.
Huntley said he would not trade his coaching experience for anything.
“I’m glad I did it, and I still get a kick out of people calling me coach,” Huntley said.