Cross country coach will retire after 23 years at Newman

By Grace Long, Staff Writer

Josh Schepis, head coach of the Newman men’s and women’s cross country teams, has announced his retirement after 23 years leading the program. Schepis has been the only cross country coach at Newman since the program’s inaugural season in 2001. 

On his first day on the job, Schepis had only one person on the team who had run in high school and he didn’t even have a full roster on the men’s and women’s teams. However, through Schepis’ leadership, the program now boasts multiple conference championship wins, more than 100 individual all-conference performers, and a national championship qualifier. 

“We’ve come a long way,” Schepis said. 

Schepis said he will miss working with the runners and trips home from meets up to 12 hours away. 

“I always really enjoyed the rides home because the kids aren’t as nervous because the competition is over,” Schepis said. “The kids are happy, and it’s a time to reflect on how they did and how they’re going to do better moving forward. A lot of life conversations go on during those rides home.”

Schepis said he is pleased with the timing of his retirement as he believes that the program is in a good spot to continue performing well. 

“The new coach isn’t going to have to rebuild,” Schepis said. “They’re just going to have to add a couple of pieces, and they’re going to be fine for this upcoming year.”

Athletic Director Joanna Pryor has worked with Schepis for the past 15 years and said that he will be greatly missed as a coach, colleague, and friend. 

“‘Caring’ is a word that I would use to describe Coach Schepis,” Pryor said. “He cares about his student athletes in all aspects. He cares about seeing Newman athletics succeed.”

Pryor is reviewing resumes and talking with qualified applicants to find a new cross country coach for the program. She said she hopes to make a hire in early May.

“We will take as long as needed in order to get the right person for the job,” Pryor said. “We have some good prospects and are having good conversations. I am hopeful we can bring a coach to Newman that can continue the success that Coach Schepis has had in his career at Newman.”

Junior Reagan Longei, who was the top finisher for the men’s team at the MIAA Championship, described Schepis as a “father figure” and said he will miss the motivation he brought to the team and his jokes. 

Junior Asher Brown was the Jets’ second-best finisher on the men’s side at the MIAA Championship. Brown said he will miss the energy and intensity that Schepis brings to practice and games. 

The men’s and women’s teams are in the offseason but are still running together and going to the weight room. Brown says that it is important for the runners to stay healthy during the offseason. 

“It is important to strengthen so that when summer comes and we start to increase our mileage, our body will be able to handle the higher mileage,” he said. “This will reduce the risk of injury going into the season.”

PHOTO: Courtesy Photo, Newman Athletics