Another successful coach stepping down.

By: Brian Fees | Towanda Daily Review | June 10, 2018

 

This offseason has been unlike any other as one legendary coach after another had stepped down from coaching.

Just in track and field alone two schools will have to replace two of the most successful coaches in the league.

Northeast Bradford cross country and track and field's long-time coach, Mike Murphy, stepped down from coaching, and in Athens they will have a new coach. Dave Gabriel is stepping down as the boys' track and field coach after 16 years at the school as well.

"One of the hardest decisions I've had to make in a very long time," Gabriel said. "Weighing that out was a difficult decision not only for me, but for my wife and for the school district. I've been there 16 years and walking away from something I came into and really built, there's an empty feeling in me, but knowing I've done so much these past 16 years fills that void back up.

"But, I feel like I just started. I feel like I just started doing this, I feel like I have much more to go. I'm probably going to come back to it, but for right now, I've taken care of everybody else's kids for the past 16 years and it's come to the point where I really need to take care of my own. Not that I don't take care of my own, but I need to be there a lot more for them with my wive's job being so far away."

It's the one hard thing with coaching and running successful sports programs, there is a lot of time that these coaches have to put into it.

And, Gabriel ran an ultra successful track and field program.

This offseason Gabriel and Murphy and Towanda baseball coach Bill Sexton and Wellsboro baseball coach Philip Prough all stepped down. All of them have had a ton of success in their sports, and with that came a lot of time and commitment from all of them.

For Gabriel, it wasn't just going to meets a couple times a week that took a toll, time wise, it was all the practices and other things that came with coaching a track program like Athens.

"The 4-6p.m. everyday practices is a lot of fun, you meet a lot of great kids doing it," Gabriel said. "But we run a really good program at Athens and we are responsible for hosting the NTL meet and we picked up an invitational and I took on the district meet the past couple years. We run a good system, but it takes a lot of time, a lot of orchestration and time outside of the actual meet to get things all in order. It's time I still actually have to do in the background, but it's the 4-6p.m. time after school that is taxing on my whole family so I just need that time to get back to them and I can still work on things in the background."

Over the past 16 years Gabriel has run one of the top track and field programs in the NTL.

He has sent kids to states, had state medalists and champions. He's had state record holders and Athens has hosted league and district meets. He's helped take Athens track and field to a completely different level.

"When I came back to the program one of the best was still there with Skip Roupp and I've been working with Skip the past 16 years," Gabriel said. "He was on staff for a longtime. I came back to kind of the same program I left when I went away to college and I thought we can make this a lot better by instituting Bucknell's system that I learned with different stretching, with dynamics, it brought a whole new platter to these kids, not just making them better track and field athletes, but better athletes overall. That was a goal of mine, at Athens, was to support all the other sports teams with doing things correctly with linear speed, mechanics of running. I think the change in the program has come about, and there are definitely coaches, I don't think they are going to miss a beat with anything, because the systems in place and I'd like to see them take it further and do more things and grow that program so if I do come back to it I can actually learn something from what they are doing."

While Gabriel will be giving up the day-to-day coaching of the Athens boys, he's not stepping fully away from track and field.

"I am going to stick with the District 4 meet director job, I love track and field too much, I can't walk away completely from it," Gabriel said. "I will definitely be sneaking around, hopefully helping out with meet directing, maybe the NTL meet and if they need me to do something for dual meets, I can still get my love for track and field by doing those things for our program, without having to do the 4-6 every single day of the week."

 

About the Author

Brian Fees Author Bio
Brian Fees

Brian Fees is the sports editor of the Daily & Sunday Review in Towanda, PA.