Kingsway has had many significant coaching changes this fall, including a new head girls soccer coach (Jayme Gatti) and a new head football coach (Mark Hendricks).
However, there was another coaching change that also has major ramifications on Kingsway’s athletic success. However, this change was a promotion from within the staff, as Caitlin Hess has stepped into the role of head girls cross country coach.
Hess takes over for Christine Dacchille, who stepped down after she learned she was expecting her second child. Dacchille had been the head coach of the program since 2012.
During that time, the girls cross country team had accumulated two Tri-County Conference Royal Division titles, two Gloucester County titles, and a South Jersey Group 4 championship.
However, as the assistant girls and boys cross country coach during Dacchille’s entire tenure, Hess is a familiar face, who has been a major contributor to those championship successes. She also has spent the last four years as a distance coach for the boys and girls track teams, where she has guided many athletes to state prominence.
Also, as the head swim coach at Kingsway for the past four years, Hess already has valuable experiences building a program, as her teams have become some of the better teams in South Jersey. She also continues in her role as the head coach of the Peachwood Swim Team during the summer months.
Hess has been a prominent figure in South Jersey athletics for over a decade. She was an all-star caliber athlete during his playing days at Our Lady of Mercy (OLMA) Academy in Newfield. She excelled in soccer, swimming, and track during that time. On the track, she was a many-time Meet of Champions qualifier in the distance events.
Hess then moved on to Ramapo College, where she was starter on the soccer team and played for four years. She graduated in 2011 with an undergraduate degree in biology and currently is completing her masters degree in educational administration at Rowan University.
At Kingsway, in addition to coaching girls cross country, swimming, and track & field, Hess teaches in the high school biology department.
When asking Hess about this opportunity, her excitement was obvious.
“I am thrilled with the opportunity to continue the fine tradition that is Kingsway girls cross country,” said Hess. “This program is one of the finest ones in New Jersey, and I feel compelled to keep it progressing. It is an honor, one that I take very seriously.
“As for my goals, I want Kingsway to continue to be one of the top programs in the state,” Hess continued. “Having been working with these girls and boys for their entire careers, I already know what they can do. I just have to keep pressing the envelope on their potential.”
Athletic Director June Cioffi is very excited about the new role that Coach Hess will play in the program.
“Coach Hess has what it takes to carry our program to new heights,” said Cioffi. “The kids love her and respect her knowledge base and experience. She was the perfect candidate for that position.”
With such high expectations, many new coaches would crack under the pressure. Hess seems to relish it
“It is important that we expect the best from ourselves as athletes and as coaches,” said Hess. “I would not ask anything less of myself than I would ask from my athletes.”
It sounds like we should expect big things from the Kingsway girls cross country team moving forward.