Carl B. “Rube” Hoy has been gone 38 years, but his life philosophy still offers a roadmap for anyone that wants to believe anything is possible.
Hoy was one of the most colorful personalities to grace the campus of The University of South Dakota. A Coyote men’s basketball coach and then athletic director from 1927 to 1956, Hoy gave his heart and soul to young people. All his life, he stressed teamwork and helping others while living out his passion of coaching his “University boys.”
His daughter Nancy Hoy McCahren, a USD graduate, professor and later alumni director, talked about her father’s homespun philosophy that transcends time.
“My father recognized strength of character, respect for others, the beauty in things that were good,” McCahren said. “I think his philosophy was ‘I am here to help.’ He never lost his faith and told his athletes that you have to have something to believe in. You need to believe in yourself. You do onto others as you would have them do onto you,” she said.“He gave his life, and in a way I have also espoused, less concerned with himself and always focused on helping others become better people,” said McCahren.
Hoy’s defining legacy was his student-first philosophy. It was fitting, therefore, in 2009, that USD honored the Hoy family by naming a room in their honor at the Muenster University Center, which serves as the activities hub for current students.To the people that knew him, he was “Rube,” a nickname he received from a classmate when he rode a horse into Huron to help a superintendent who needed transportation.
Hoy, who earned 16 letters while at Huron High, became a standout athlete at the U from 1915-1919, starring for the Coyote football and track teams and earning 10 letters. He played against teams like Michigan State and a Notre Dame squad that featured the Gipper, George Gipp. He played with, coached or had connections to more than 70 Coyote Sports Hall of Fame members, including his good friend Gene Vidal, a two-time Olympian, and West Point All-America football player.Hoy, who earned a business degree in 1919, developed a lifelong bond with Vidal, as well as Alton Ochsner, also a Phi Delta fraternity brother, who like Hoy made important contributions.
Ochsner, a Kimball native, founded the Ochsner Clinic, which later linked smoking to cancer and led a war against smoking. Vidal, originally of Madison, served in FDR’s administration and was an aviation pioneer who founded Eastern, TWA and Northeast Airlines.Yet as McCahren relates, both Vidal and Ochsner admired Hoy’s decision to help young people and commit a life to education.
It all started for Hoy at Gregory High, where he taught and coached for six years. His Gorillas went to three state basketball tourneys and his football team lost just four games during his tenure. After a year at Platte, Hoy was appointed head basketball coach and assistant athletic director at USD in 1927.Hoy, who finished his USD coaching career with a 169-190 record (second on USD’s all-time wins list), was the first Coyote basketball coach to win a conference basketball championship and first NCC coach to win back-to-back titles (1929-31). Hoy, who also served as track coach from 1941-46, led the U to a third hoops title in 1938-39.
According to McCahren, Hoy’s proudest coaching moments included wins over nationally ranked Loyola of Chicago and Bradley University. In 1937-38, Hoy led USD to a 40-39 win over Loyola of Chicago, who would finish 21-1 in 1938-39, losing only the final in the NIT. Then in 1947-48, his Coyotes defeated top-ranked Bradley, 54-51, one of three losses by the Braves during a 28-3 campaign.
Yet, Hoy, who later was inducted into the Coyote Sports and South Dakota Sports Hall of Fames, rarely discussed his own achievements, believing winning wasn’t measured in athletics but in life.In 1972 Hoy told Keith Nolop of The Volante: “whatever contribution I have made can be measured only by how many persons have said, ‘yes, you have been surely a help to me.’”
As a result, Hoy took the greatest pride in the achievement of his student-athletes. In his book, According to Hoy, he wrote that 14 of his “boys” went into medicine, 26 in law, 25 in the military, and 38 became teachers/coaches. Those “boys” continued to reach out to him, some of them while they were fighting for their country. During wartime, he received letters from 50 of his guys and he promptly answered those letters.“I never tried to direct my boys into any particular field,” Hoy said in the book. “I just wanted to help them do a better job at whatever they chose,” he said.
Obviously, Hoy left a mark on those that he touched. He did it by stressing the value of teamwork and sportsmanship and not over emphasizing winning. He believed a good education was achieved through hard work and sacrifice.The late former South Dakota governor Joe Foss, a World War II ace, once told a group of football executives about Hoy, who had a great influence on him.
“I never intended to coach,” Foss wrote in his book A Proud American,”I took coaching from him (Hoy) just to hear his basic philosophy of life, which has always influenced the way I deal with people. He always pointed you in the right direction and believed in you and gave you the feeling ‘yes I can do it,’ whatever it is.”