Last week, the EMU Track & Field team competed in the Camel City Invitational in Winston-Salem, NC and got some positive results. After Coach Brian Simpson’s departure, there have been some who have been upset about losing him along with several other teammates. In 2017, the team finished strong, but with a new coach, the team hopes to continue to transition, improve, and excel in the 2018 season.
The new coach will be Bob Hepler. Positive thoughts have surrounded the upcoming arrival of Hepler to the team in May 2018. With only a few players actually having spoken to Coach Hepler, they seem pretty excited and cannot wait to see what he brings to this building program.
Senior captain Connor Faint has been with the program throughout his collegiate career. He said of on Hepler’s coaching, “He is the best-qualified coach to revitalize the program.” Faint believes Coach Hepler will keep rebuilding and improving so that EMU will be known for its track program. Finishing last season stronger and being a National All American in the 400 hurdles, Faint hopes to make nationals for indoor and outdoor track. He especially wants to win in indoor track for his last season as a Royal.
Sophomore Emma Hoover thinks the transition with the new coach will not be difficult. Of course the leaving of Coach Simpson upset the team, and as a result some formal teammates left to follow their coach. When Hoover met with Coach Hepler last year, she believed he fit the ideal EMU characteristic of caring about the team and players at a level deeper than seeing them as just athletes.
Hoover grew up loving the running community because of their great work ethic and the admirable people she has met through the sport she loves. Joining the EMU running community, she still believes this. With a new coach, Hoover sees the team coming out stronger because “we all care about each other, are there for each other, and we all are in it for the long haul.” Training with the team as the season starts to pick up, she sees the team building from last season and coming together, becoming stronger.
Brittney Williams is a senior this year and has been on the team since her first year. She has run since elementary school and her hard work placed her in the top ten for the 400m and 800m at EMU. With a lot of changes occurring, Williams wants to support her teammates. She is very excited about Coach Hepler coming. She states, “My younger teammates will have a solid coach with a lot of experience. I’m kind of jealous.” Even though the team is small, she knows they are very talented, and she cannot wait to see what this season has in store.
First-year Jordan Short was recruited by Coach Simpson, and he was upset to hear that Simpson was leaving the program before the season started. After hearing positive attitudes toward the new coach, Short stayed and plans on staying for all four years. For this season, he will be happy if he places top five in the ODAC, and his goals are to make nationals and win an ODAC championship while he is at EMU.
With the Royals ready to take on this season and supporting each other through the coach transition, they are looking for a great season.