This is only the third year the STU cross country team has been competing in Canadian Interuniversity Sport, but they have already burned through one coach.
Alex Coffin was hired earlier this summer after Scott Davis stepped down.
The 45-year-old coach is originally from N.B. but has been all over the country for school and coaching. He has attended Bishops University and the University of Victoria.
He started running in elementary school and hasn’t stopped.
“There’s lots of energy involved with running. I love cross country in particular because I love being out in the woods,” Coffin said.
There are no major plans from Coffin to change the team. He said he wants to continue on the good work Davis has already done.
“If things have worked you don’t want to throw them out,” Coffin said.
“We’ll do a lot of the same stuff that [Davis] did, for sure.”
Coffin said he’s lucky to come on board with this group of students on his team. He said in past years the team has been strong not only in competitions but academically as well. He said academics come first with his team and he wants to maintain that.
Athletics Director Mike Eagles said Coffin was selected because of his experience and his involvement in the running community.
“One of the things that I really wanted someone to bring to the table was the ability to use the running community,” Eagles said.
“[Coffin is] involved with younger athletes in middle school and high school. Maybe that will help impact their decision on where to go to school.”
Eagles said the department wants to recruit more and believes some students may choose to study at STU because of their pre-established relationship with Coffin.
Coffin would like to see the team make it to the national competition but said before that can happen they have to make it to the AUS.
“We haven’t had any athletes go to a national championship yet,” Coffin said. “But first things first. We have to be competitive in the Atlantic conference.
“I want to see some of our athletes reach the National University Championships. Maybe down the road National Senior Championships. Maybe we’ll get an Olympian here.”
Coffin said the STU team has some good athletes on it, including two students who competed in the Canada Games this past summer and the N.B. provincial record holder for 400m hurdles.
Coffin predicted the this year’s top men’s cross country runner to be Paul Nozicka and women’s to be Katie Cameron.
That being said, Coffin stressed the team is still open to all skill levels and wants everyone to improve on their skills.
He said the biggest event for the team probably won’t be the Atlantic University Sport but a cross country race in Miramichi the week before.
“All of our athletes will be there, anybody who hasn’t made the AUS team,” Coffin said. “Everyone goes to Miramichi and I’m really looking forward to that.”