Rhoads takes over as Warwick’s new track coach

By on August 15, 2019

In wake of everything the Warwick boys and girls track teams accomplished this spring, they will have a tough act to follow in 2020.

After all, it’s not all the time you see one school sweep the L-L League boys and girls crowns.

That was the start of a magical run for the Warrior girls, who went on to win the District Three and PIAA State Triple-A championships.

So what happens for an encore?

“That’s the question,” chuckled Warwick sprints coach Bobby Rhoads.

The answer will come with Rhoads serving as the Warriors’ new head coach, having replaced reigning PIAA Coach of the Year Alex Daecher, who stepped down at season’s end. He was approved for the position at Warwick’s school board meeting last Tuesday, Aug. 6.

“We have some big shoes to fill,” said Rhoads, who will celebrate his 30th birthday in October.

Make no mistake, however. He is thrilled about the task ahead.

“I’m excited for the opportunity,” Rhoads said. “I’m ready for it.”

A seventh-grade science teacher at Warwick Middle School, Rhoads started six years ago on the Warriors’ staff as sprints coach — the same year that Daecher took over as Warwick’s boss.

This past May, Daecher let his staff know at the West Chester Invitational — shortly before the post-season got underway — that he was bowing out.

The assistants then gathered as a group, discussing how they wanted to proceed forward.

“We knew we had a good thing going on staff,” Rhoads said, “so we talked about it to see who might want to step up into that role. I feel like as a staff, we’ve done a really good job over the past six years growing the program and Alex was a fantastic leader with that. We really wanted to try to keep it on staff in a lot of ways.”

Bobby and his wife, Brooke, who have an 18-month-old son, Jack, then considered it together, and it was all engines forward from there.

Rhoads expects to still coach the sprinters. Beyond that, there will be additional responsibilities, like scheduling and working with the parents club.

This past school year, he took over the Warriors’ winter track program and gained some experience making some big decisions there.

But Rhoads knows he won’t be alone.

The fact that Matt Bomberger, Joe Hallowell, and Dan Shelly are all interested in returning to the staff made his decision much easier.

“If I did not feel the way I do about the other coaches, I wouldn’t think it would be a good fit,” Rhoads said. “But I think it’s a good step up for me because I really trust the people around me. It’s going to continue to be a team effort for Warwick, and I’m excited about it just because of the other people we have on staff.”

Warwick’s new skipper is also excited about the talent they will have back in the fold.

Yes, Warwick loses such L-L All-Stars as Kate Dickow, Leah Graybill, Emily Williamson, Ryan Fegley, Noah Martin, and Connor Shields. Graybill and Williamson also received All-State honors.

But the cupboard isn’t bare.

Among those returning are All-State honoree Lily Palacio-Lewis and L-L stars Juliette Delmotte, Anna Martin, Meghan Quinn, and Nate Good.

“There’s no doubt we lost an incredibly strong senior class,” Rhoads said. “Not only were they talented, but they were great leaders. The good news is they have led and helped change the culture of this team. And I think the underclassmen who are in the program are ready to step up and hopefully continue with the success. I think the expectation now is the success we have put there and we have the kids to pull it off. On the girls side, we have a lot of District and State medalists coming back, and on the boys side, there is a ton of potential. The boys are hungry. After tasting that success, the excitement level is just really high. I’m excited about seeing how they continue to build on that.”

Rhoads competed in high school with a program which traditionally built on their success, graduating in 2008 from Hempfield, where he competed on the Black Knghts’ track and football teams.

Certainly, the Hempfields, Manheim Townships, and others in Section One will be ready for Warwick next spring. Some might say the Warriors will have a target on their back.

That being the case, though, Rhoads will have his squad focused on taking care of its own business.

“The most important thing is just to establish what our expectations are,” he said. “I think that every year, you have to earn the right to win and compete at a high level, and that’s what we need to come in and do as a team. I don’t think that there’s ever a time where a team can sit back and go, ‘Oh, we’ve done it.’ The league should have a target for us, and we would feel no differently in years past about, like, the Hempfields that were consistently winning. I don’t want the kids to focus on outside teams. I want them to focus on themselves. (By) having high expectations for themselves, it shouldn’t matter if that target is there or not, as long as they’re doing what they should be doing.”

If that happens, the encore should be a good one for the Warrior track and field teams.

“There is absolutely a culture of success and of encouraging each other as teammates and putting the team first,” Rhoads said. “All those things that you want as a head coach have been established with the help of staff and the fantastic senior leadership we had last year. I feel like (the culture) is there. So it’s something to build on instead of something we have to create from scratch.”

 

 

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