Hess steps down as ’Berg’s track, CC coach

By Zach Baker

Sports Editor

Briana Hess said she wasn’t sure if she could ever feel the excitement she experienced as an elite athlete.

Coaching gave her those same thrills.

“I learned in coaching…[it’s] the one thing that will simulate those feelings,” the former Seneca East and University of Toledo track star said. “Watching an athlete you coached reach goals that they set, or run faster than they’ve ever run, or jump higher than they ever jumped.”

As Heidelberg’s track and cross country coach, Hess was instrumental in seeing her athletes reach those goals. Thirteen HU players reached All-American status under her watch, and one – high jumper Nate Davis – won Division III indoor and outdoor national titles.

Hess resigned Wednesday, citing family reasons.

“Obviously I have a family and a 1-year-old daughter, and I’m newly pregnant,” she said. “[Coaching] is definitely a tough job with a family.”

Heidelberg Athletic Director Matt Palm, who also serves as the school’s baseball coach, said he understood Hess’ decision.

“It’s one tough thing to juggle family and coaching,” Palm said. “I don’t know if people know how much time goes into the whole program.

“We’re disappointed (Hess) is not gonna be on the staff anymore, but we definitely understand the reasons for her decision.”

One thing about Hess’ job is that there is barely any offseason. The coach just wrapped up her cross country teams’ slates. Heidelberg’s indoor track season starts Friday at the Oiler Open.

Palm and Hess said they have confidence the remaining coaching staff will be able to handle the transition. In addition, Hess isn’t officially leaving the program until Dec. 13.

As for who the head coach will be for the remainder of this season and beyond, Palm said something is likely to be decided in the near future.

“We’re discussing all of our options,” Palm said. “We’re fortunate to have a quality group of assistants on board.

“We’re gonna try to make a decision on what route we’re going to go in the next few days,” he said.

Hess said the future is bright for the programs.

“There’s a great coaching staff there, I love working with this group of coaches and I’d say (this year) is the best recruiting we’ve ever done,” she said. “I’ll always be a Heidelberg supporter. They have all the ability to succeed whether I’m there or not.”