Sassaman steps down as WHS cross country coach

By on June 3, 2015

 

Jenny Sassaman, who led the Warwick boys and girls cross country teams to a combined 119-49 record in four seasons, has stepped down as the program's head coach.

Jenny Sassaman (right), who led the Warwick boys and girls cross country teams to a combined 119-49 record in four seasons, has stepped down as the program’s head coach.

When Jenny Sassaman left Hershey last November after watching senior Amanda Graber place 161st overall at the State Cross Country Championships, she had no idea that she wouldn’t be returning as Warwick’s head coach.

But Sassaman recently got an opportunity that she just couldn’t turn down.

On April 9, she was hired by Technical College High School at Pennock’s Bridge campus in Chester County as an academic specialist.

“I absolutely love my job,” Sassaman said. “I take math and science and anything else that needs done into all the programs. So I’m just getting my sleeves rolled up. And I’m writing my own position, so I keep telling everyone, ‘I get to do what I want,’ which is really cool.”

Although it wasn’t easy, she made the decision to step down as Warwick’s cross country coach and submitted her resignation to Athletic Director Ryan Landis. In four years at the helm, Sassaman compiled records of 63-21 with the Warriors and 56-28 with the Lady Warriors. That included a combined 39-3 record in 2012, when the WHS boys finished 20-1, losing only to Penn Manor on the final day of the regular season.

“Lititz has welcomed me with open arms and I still have a lot of friendships that I hope to have for the rest of my life because runners love running and they keep coming out to meets,” said Sassaman, who had six State qualifiers in her tenure. “I’ll be running with a lot of the members of the cross country teams this summer at informal trail runs and for workouts when they ask. And I’ll also be at cross country camp. So everyone will see me no matter what team they’re on there. That will be really neat.”

Her new full-time job, coupled with her children running cross country at Manheim Township, factored into her decision to step aside. Her daughter Leah will be running for the Lady Blue Streaks’ varsity team in the fall, while son Drew will be competing for the Township boys junior high.

“It really hurt to only see (Leah) run twice a year &tstr; I couldn’t in good conscience do that anymore,” Sassaman said. “I want to see her run and I want to be her parent, rather than (saying), ‘How did you do today?’ And I also potentially have a seventh-grade son coming up and doing junior high. So that kinda broke me.”

Prior to taking over the varsity program, Sassaman also coached the Warwick junior high team for one season.

Asked if she will miss not coaching this fall, she said, “Terribly. It’s not natural to leave your athletes. It’s natural for your athletes to leave you. And it’s tough because I love coaching at Warwick. Cross country is a sport where everyone faces the same direction. It’s not where one team faces another team. It’s actually a beautiful thing … people of course want to best their opponent, but it’s really satisfying to (face) your opponent who either beat you or (lost to you and) to be gracious and lovely and be a friend. We’re all doing this together &tstr; fast or slow, we all have to get through the challenge of running a 5K.”

Sassaman fully expects there to be a day down the road when she will re-join the coaching ranks.

“Absolutely, without question,” she said. “When my kids are little bit older and they themselves aren’t running, I definitely want to get back into coaching. And I feel like, hey, someone always needs a timer or (something else) … I’m there. I really didn’t want to leave and this job opportunity came up and jobs, after you stay at home for a few years and you don’t have a lot of experience, are tough to come by. And the principal at TCHS actually sought me out and I couldn’t be happier.”

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