By DOUG DONNELLY
Whiteford didn’t have to look far to find its next men and women’s varsity track and field head coach.
Mike Hughes stepped down last month. Jay Yockey, one of the track assistants and varsity cross country coach at Whiteford, will be the next track and field head coach.
“I’m very excited to be afforded the opportunity to lead the program,” said Yockey, who spent four years as the Britton Deerfield track coach. “We have a great group of athletes currently in our program who are capable of doing extraordinary things.”
Jeremy Simmons, Whiteford athletic director, confirmed that the Whiteford school board voted on Yockey’s appointment at its September meeting.
“We are excited to have Jay as our next head coach,” Simmons said. “He will do a great job.”
When Yockey became a teacher at Whiteford he signed on as an assistant coach with the track team and has helped them since. He said the program is a good one with a long history of success.
“It’s a program rich with all-state athletes and top state performances,” he said. “I hope to continue that tradition and raise the bar of excellence and expectations.”
Hughes spent eight seasons coaching both the men’s and women’s track and field programs at Whiteford. He was head coach when the new track was built and helped oversee the Bobcats hosting its first home meet in over a decade and its first-ever regional track and field meet.
A new job, he said, led to his decision to step down.
“I was sad to leave,” he said. “The new job took me away from the Whiteford community. The eight years I spent there were a lot of fun. I enjoyed all the kids that came out for track when we didn’t even have a track.
“The track program grew every year and I had a great coaches through the years that keep the program moving in the right direction.”
Hughes said Whiteford kids were a determined group who competed in every meet they were in.
“We had several all-state track runners and a state champion in two events while I was here,” he said. “I have so many great memories of all the track kids. No matter the skill level, there was and is a place on a track team to compete. Whiteford will always have a special place in my heart.”