New cross country hires bring college experience

When Patty Tracy-Thewes learned that she and her husband had to relocate to Tennessee from Michigan due to his career, she was far from excited.

But it didn’t take long for Thewes to find her niche as the new head coach for Bearden’s boys and girls cross country teams this summer.

“I was really disappointed when I had to leave Michigan and my team there,” Coach Thewes said. “And then when I landed at Bearden I was real excited because now I have a new team I can coach.”

Thewes has been involved in athletics for about 20 years and competed on the collegiate level at Cleveland State where she earned much success.

“I held my college’s triple jump record, and I competed in almost all of the track events,” Thewes said.

Thewes’s running career started in middle school when she ran on the boys team, and she went on to run for her high school’s track team. It wasn’t until her senior year of high school when her school added a girls team. It wasn’t until after college, though, that she decided to focus on long distance running.

After earning her masters in physical education with a concentration in athletic administration, Coach Thewes went on to coach boys track a for a few years at a high school in Michigan and then was hired as the head coach of track and field at Forest Hills Northern High School (Grand Rapids, Mich.) before coming to Bearden.

Coach Thewes is not the only new addition to Bearden’s cross country team this year. The Bulldogs also welcome new assistant coach Ashley Powell, who ran cross country and track for ETSU. Powell will also be the new long distance track coach for Bearden this spring.

Thewes and Powell have developed a strong chemistry linked by their passion for the sport of running that has helped ease their transition as the new coaches at Bearden.

“I think that she is part of the ingredient of success too because both she and I work together very well,” Thewes said. “And she’s right out of college and she is right off her collegiate running career too.”

Added Powell: “It’s a lot of fun. We’re very similar in our coaching principles and what we believe so it’s been a lot of fun getting to know her and working with her and planning practices and then just carrying that over into working with the kids.”

Unlike last year’s experienced team, the Bulldogs come into this season with mostly underclassmen. This will be a rebuilding year for the Bulldogs, but seniors Chase Hilton and Alisa Harvey have both stepped up and will play a key leadership role on the team.

“I am definitely looking to Chase and Alisa as leaders on the team,” Coach Thewes said. “On our boys team, we lost four of the top five seniors, but I still think we have a very strong boys team.

“And I think that we’ll do very well with the girls as well… We’ll have to see how the first meet goes, but the kids are really working hard and I am excited about our team.”

The transitioning period can be difficult for most teams after getting a new coaching staff, but it has worked out for the betterment of Bearden.

“It’s extremely different,” Harvey said. “I would say that our new coach definitely pushes us harder, she expects more out of us, and she also gives us better workouts.

“Everything is geared toward making us better, which is really helpful.”

Coach Thewes and Coach Powell have combined their running experience in order to help lead the Bulldogs to success on the course and off the course.

“The most important thing for me is that they are successful in the classroom, that they work hard academically and that they have success in the classroom first, and then, secondly, that they achieve their own goals,” Coach Thewes said.

Coach Thewes and Coach Powell met separately with each of their athletes and discussed how to set their own goals for this season and to prepare for the first meet on Aug. 31.

“If we help them achieve their own goals then I feel like we’ve had a successful season,” Thewes said.