By Ashley Hinkley, Staff Writer
After just one short season of coaching the UMF Cross Country team, coach Scott Hutchinson has made the decision to step down and will be resigning from his position as Head Coach for UMF Track and Field. Though understanding the personal reasons for Hutchinson’s decision, team members anxiously enter the season with hopes to find a new coach that will lead the Beavers to success in their first ever varsity season.
“Circumstances at home put Hutch in a difficult situation between wanting to be at UMF for the program he took over and needing to be closer to home to support his family,” said Kayla Giradin, junior and first year runner for the team. According to Girardin, Coach Hutchinson was passionate about coaching, cared for all team members, and was dedicated to the program.
“I want them to know that I will miss them a great deal,” said Hutchinson. “I want them to continue to be the best they can be in the classroom, out on the cross country course, on the track and in life.”
Hutchinson said that if circumstances had not arisen, he would have gladly continued coaching the team. “UMF is a special place and this group of young men and women already have a special spot in my heart,” he said.
With the official outdoor track and field season quickly approaching, the team has begun their search to find a coach that will fill Hutchinson’s shoes and provide for an easy transition. First-year cross-country runner Rachael Chavarie hopes for a coach who will continue to do team building exercises as Hutchinson did.
“He helped with being more comfortable around each other,” said Chavarie. “He planned things like frisbee, bowling and swimming to bring us together.”
Agreeing with Chavarie, senior sprinter Darine Gnidehoue expressed interest in finding a coach who builds relationships among teammates and is dedicated to elevating the program to ensure success on the varsity level. “The team has a lot of potential and a lot of good athletes,” said Gnidehoue. “I want someone that will make the potential of each athlete grow.”
Though his time at UMF was short, Hutchinson helped the cross country team find success in their fall season. “I am extremely proud of what they have achieved to this point,” said Hutchinson. Both the men’s and women’s teams placed within the top five in four regular season meets. At the North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Championship, the women’s team earned second place while the men’s team earned third.
In just one year, the outdoor track and field program has transformed from a club sport to a varsity level team, sparking excitement and anticipation along the way. “I’m excited to see how we compare to other teams now that our performances count,” said Gnidehoue. “We’re excited to make our mark and to have our dreams realized now that we’re varsity.”
Currently, the outdoor track and field team is continuing pre-season with Coach Hutchinson, who will remain coaching the team until his contract expires after February break. The search for a replacement coach will continue until the beginning of the season in mid-March.