Vann named WHS track coach

By on February 22, 2012

By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer

Photo by Preston Whitcraft
Katie Vann, a former sprinter at Seton Hill University, will take over as Warwick's new track and field coach this spring.Photo by Preston Whitcraft
Katie Vann, a former sprinter at Seton Hill University, will take over as Warwick's new track and field coach this spring.

Katie Vann developed a solid track record as an athlete.

Now she is hoping to do the same as a coach.

The Johnstown native, a 2011 graduate of Seton Hill University, was approved by the Warwick school board on Tuesday night to become the Warriors’ new track and field head coach. Vann replaces Scott Rathkey, who was let go following the 2011 season.

"One of the things that the committee was impressed with was her enthusiasm," Warwick Athletic Director John Kosydar said. "She’s young, energetic and has lots of enthusiasm, which we felt was a good thing for the program. If the leader of your program is excited, it’s going to make everyone else excited. So that was one of the things that definitely impressed us."

Vann, 23, was a three-sport scholarship athlete for the Division-II Seton Hill Lady Griffins. She arrived on the Greensburg campus as a member of the women’s soccer and track and field squads. But when an injury ended her soccer career following the 2007-08 season, Vann joined the Seton Hill cross country team.

A sprinter at Conemaugh Township High School, where she graduated in 2007, Vann continued to compete in sprints up through the 1500 and helped the Lady Griffins win the WVIAC Conference title in her senior year.

"She was a candidate that definitely had knowledge of track," Kosydar said of Vann, one of three candidates who interviewed for the Warwick head coach position. "Her background in athletics is definitely good. She received a scholarship, so she can help in that end, so that was another thing we liked about her."

Although she wasn’t approved for the job until Tuesday, Vann has been working hard with her assistant coaches to prepare for the 2012 season. Since moving to Lititz in mid-January, she’s been involved in pre-season workouts with the Warriors’ athletes. While assistants Joe Hallowell (sprints), Ed Nixdorf (distance) and Chad Rapp (jumps) are returning, Alex Daecher is joining the staff to coach the throwers.

"Distance has always had pre-season," said Vann, who has also been hired as a substitute teacher in the Warwick School District. "This was the first year we had pre-season for all the other events too. We’ve been doing as much as we can with everything."

Her enthusiasm for the position is evident when talking about the goals that she has for the program, saying, "Just kinda give a little more intensity to some of the workouts and just start getting the program to head in a little bit of a different direction. We’d like to take more of our kids to Districts, but just overall perform better as a team."

Vann inherits a squad that lost State qualifiers Emily Graber and Alex Tabares to graduation. Matt Devlin and Sawyer Weiler were among the District qualifiers who have moved on with the Class of 2011. But Warwick’s new coach is excited about the upcoming campaign.

"Distance-wise, the boys and girls should be pretty solid," Vann said. "The other groups, just with some changes in coaching, we’re getting some extra kids who should be pretty decent throwers. It’s going to be more of a rebuilding year, but we should have some surprises coming up."

Although Vann will lead the Warriors into their Section One opener at Manheim Township on March 26 less than a year removed from her final collegiate competition, she is ready for the challenge.

"I know the sport inside and out," Vann said. "There’s a transition between being an athlete and a coach, but the coaches that are there, especially Nixdorf, they’re helping me with that part of it. But as far as actually coaching the athletes, I feel pretty solid on it."

Indeed, Vann’s knowledge extends beyond just the sprints. Her younger sister, Kelly, is currently a sophomore pole vaulter at Seton Hill University and she gained experience in other events while student teaching.

"I’ve worked with a lot of pole vaulters, so I’m going to work with each group (at Warwick) pretty much from day to day," Vann said. "I’m not just going to stay with a single group the entire time." More VANN, page B-3

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