On February 26, Bob Wolf '08 was named the Head Cross Country Coach for the 2021 fall season. Wolf takes the reigns as Michael "Doc" Gallagher '71 retired after 17 seasons of coaching at Saint Ignatius High School. Wolf is a former runner for Doc and a part of his coaching staff for the last five seasons.
"It is exciting because this program has been so successful with Doc," says Wolf. "Being able to take over this program and put my spin on things is exciting."
Wolf graduated from Kenyon College and returned to his Alma Mater as a science teacher in 2015. Wolf would join the cross country and track programs as an assistant coach.
Gallagher was quick to congratulate Wolf on the hire and is thrilled to see him take on the position. "I am so happy for him and the program," says Gallagher. "I believe that this will be a nice transition, and the kids are fortunate to have Bob as their coach."
Like many of the assistant coaches, Wolf was a runner for Doc during his time as a student-athlete at Saint Ignatius High School. "I took a ton from Doc's positive attitude that he brings every single day," says Wolf. "He was a true student of the sport; I know I can learn a lot from the athletes and assistant coaches."
Gallagher's first memory of Wolf came when Wolf was a student-athlete on the cross country team. "There was an open meet where coaches and students could run," says Gallagher. "I was running with Bob at sub six minutes and told him to kick it up; Bob had so much speed at the end of a race that just blew me away."
In 2015, the cross country team brought home a state championship. With many of those student-athletes graduating, there was a challenge of a drop-off in 2016. "This was a big transition year," says Gallagher. "Thanks to Bob, there was little to no drop-off in that next season.
Wolf's favorite memory of Doc while being a student and coach was the relationship Doc built with everyone. "He knew how to connect with his players and coaches," says Wolf. "Those relationships would lead former runners back to Saint Ignatius, and I ended up coaching with other former Doc athletes."
For Wolf, the position comes full circle for him. "I came into teaching wanting to coach," explained Wolf. "I didn't necessarily think I would be the head coach of cross country."
Wolf is a student of the sport and mentions that he takes a passion for the science that comes with running. "I always like the science behind the speed, efficiency, and development of running," says Wolf.
"He and I are science guys," says Gallagher. "Bob will continue the hallmark of endurance, strength, flexibility, coordination, and speed."
Wolf is also a part of Chuck Kyle's '69 staff during the spring for Track & Field season. He has been able to learn as a player and coach from Kyle. "Coach Kyle preaches work ethic and has a legendary background," Wolf says. "He is a much different track coach than a football coach, and he is so effective in both sports. He meets the students where they are and establishes a love for the sport for those students."
"His work ethic is superb," says Kyle. "He is a student of competitive running, organized, and it is nice that the runners will have a full calendar year to work with him in cross country and track."
Faith is an integral part of Saint Ignatius athletics, and Wolf wants to continue to grow his student-athletes faith as the next head coach. "I want to help these student-athletes answer the age-old question, What does God want from me?" Wolf explained.
With Wolf moving from an assistant coaching role to the head coach, there is a comfortability level in place for the next Cross Country season. "There is a comfort level that I coached a lot of these guys as a freshman," said Wolf. "Being able to develop them from freshman to senior year helps tremendously."
Wolf is a technique coach; he is all about running efficiency to get the best out of his student-athletes, "They know what I expect from them," explains Wolf. "I coach to individual strengths."
"Students will come to find when they listen to Bob that they will become fast distance runners," explains Gallagher. "When students have followed Bob's recommendations, they have become more effective runners."
This news comes amid the Track & Field indoor season, with many cross country team members a part of the track program. Wolf is excited to witness the development of his runners for the fall. "This is exciting; we have seen a huge improvement in the track season for the distance runners," says Wolf. "I'm thrilled to see what happens in track; this can preview next season's cross country team."
"I will always be available for assistance," says Gallagher. "This is Bob's show now, and I am anxious to see these guys get to work in the fall."
The cross country program is eager to get back to work in the fall with a new head coach at the helm, but the program appears to be in great hands with Bob Wolf. "I am looking for a confident, exciting, quietly confident, humble team next season," Wolf concluded.