(1932 - 2022)
The youngest of a dozen children growing up in Dodge City, Kansas, Laurice “Lo” Hunter followed her older brothers onto the sun-baked tennis courts of Western Kansas. Those hot afternoons spent gripping a wooden racquet instilled a passion for sports that still burns for Hunter, a Colorado high school girls coaching legend.
She wrote the book on prep volleyball success, directing Evergreen High School to nine state titles, including eight in a row, during her tenure with the Cougars.
According to Colorado High School Activities Association information, her volleyball teams compiled a 483-72 record during Hunter’s career at Evergreen. The Cougars won the 1976 state title in just the second year of CHSSA state competition, and then dominated the championships from 1978 to 1985. None of the Cougars’ title matches went to three games. Hunter’s Evergreen teams also put together a 182-match winning streak that drew national acclaim, and her 1984 girls didn’t lose a game en route to the Cougars’ seventh consecutive state title.
“I always loved sports,” Hunter said. “I loved coaching and I did it September through May. Coaching is the dessert of teaching.”
A graduate of Wichita State University, Hunter came to Colorado in 1963 with a few years of teaching and coaching in Kansas and Texas on her résumé. She itched to get girls out onto the courts and playing fields in organized fashion.
“We had play days first,” Hunter said, recalling her early years at Evergreen after joining the staff in 1967. “Several of us promised Alice Barron, the athletic director in Jefferson County, that if they’d let us play sports, we’d stay and coach,” she related.
Organized Colorado high school girls sports began with gymnastics, track and tennis in the early 1970s and Hunter coached all three for free. She said when volleyball and basketball were added a year or so later, so was a salary. Later on, she also coached Evergreen’s girl golfers.
“We put more than 120 girls into four-year colleges on scholarship,” Hunter said. “That was one of the biggest reasons to start girls sports, (for them) to be educated to go out and see the world. It was a wonderful opportunity to play volleyball.”
Hunter initiated a series of summer camps, starting with varsity players and extending down into the sophomore and freshman ranks. And she focused on playing rather than drills. She said players rarely cut her practices because they had so much fun. But Hunter also was proud of the discipline her players displayed.
“The girls taught me a lot. They taught me how to coach,” said Hunter, who has received multiple State and National “Coach of the Year” honors and been inducted into three (other) Halls of Fame. “People say I’m competitive. My parents taught me good, Christian values, but I do like to play (and win).”
Like her athletes, Hunter has been able to see the world through sports. She traveled around Europe with the parents of one of her former players, Tanya Haave, and toured Australia with another volleyball coach.
Hunter was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.
In 2009, at age 77, Hunter was still bowling three times a week, playing on a traveling women’s golf team, and attending women’s basketball games.
Career record (volleyball): 503-83 between 1972-95; nine state championships; a victory streak of 182 matches.
Source: Colorado Sports Hall of Fame