A few months back, the girls cross country team was highlighted after posting one of the greatest seasons in Gloucester County and South Jersey history. A year after finishing a lowly sixth place, 102 points behind champion Shawnee, they dominated the field to win the South Jersey Group 4 championships, running the fastest team average time in South Jersey history. sixth place finish at the Nike Northeast Regional Championships in Wappingers Falls, NY, narrowly missing a berth at the Nike National Championship meet. This was the first time that a South Jersey team has ever placed in the top 10 at this prestigious meet.
After the success that Kingsway attained over the course of the season, head girls coach Christine Dacchille was named the county’s girls coach of the year. A few days later, she was selected by her coaching peers as the South Jersey girls cross country coach of the year.
With the assistance of her staff, which includes Head Boys Cross Country Coach Christian Lynch, Assistant Boys and Girls Coach Caitlin Hess, and volunteer Coach Ryan Harrigan, they also won the Tri-County Conference Royal Division, Gloucester County, South Jersey Open (with the fastest time of the day award), and the overall Tri-County Conference championships.
Dacchille first encountered the sport of cross country as a high school runner at Buena High School. Her connection to the sport continued when she arrived at Kingsway as a middle school literature teacher and was called upon to work with the Kingsway program.
She was hired as the assistant girls and boys cross country coach as well as the middle school track coach. A year after she joined the staff, former girls head coach, Dave Heenan, left Kingsway after his wife was hired as a college professor in Alabama, and Dacchille was asked to take over the head girls cross country position.
While initially reluctant to follow the footsteps of such former coaches as Heenan and former South Jersey Coach of the Year Milt Fredericks, she soon found it necessary to take the position.
“This program has been highly successful since Coach Fredericks started it,” said Dacchille. “I have an obligation to the kids and to Kingsway to see its high level of excellence continue’”
Four years later, she certainly has continued Kingsway’s high level of excellence. She has won divisional titles in three of her four years.
She was won two county championships as well. More importantly, this program looks to build off of its previous successes and sees no future drop-off in sight.
During the presentation of her Coach of the Year Award at the South Jersey Track Coaches Association, Clearview Cross Country Coach Tom Hengel spoke to the audience about the characteristics that have led to Dacchille’s success at Kingsway.
To see the admiration shown by the coach of Clearview, Kingsway’s biggest rival in girls cross country, speaks volumes about Dacchille’s work. “Coach Dacchille is a team player who is committed to the values of Kingsway cross country and the welfare of her kids,” said Hengel. “Her passion and her caring work concurrently to help Kingsway runners reach their goals.”