By: Erin Holly McDermott, Editor-in-chief ‘23
As Indian Hills Cross Country continues to prove its dominance over other northern New Jersey Teams, Drumbeats evaluated the people behind this success. Over the past 2 and a half years, Coach Tuohy has opened new doors and opportunities for a variety of athletes across several sports. Tuohy is the head cross-country and distance track coach for the fall, winter, and spring seasons. For background, he ran at Indian Hills, across all three seasons, before moving on to run DIII for Ramapo College. His personal experience with running makes him one of the best candidates for coaching our team. He understands, “The best runners I’ve coached are the ones that have to go something really tough and difficult.” While interviewing the new coach, he has a very optimistic, homegrown style of carrying himself. The passion he shares for running and specifically for these current athletes is tangible and worthy of enormous note.
Tuohy’s relationship and care for athletes can be understood through his drive and dedication to their success and well-being. He carefully plans everyone’s runs, recovery, and events separately ensuring that every athlete is accounted for. During our interview, he detailed how specific athletes’ injuries have been adapted to and dealt with. Tuohy brings a refreshing amount of humane traits into such a physically and mentally taxing sport, like running. On his own time, he is researching dynamic breathing patterns, diaphragm spasms, and anterior iliac spine muscle tears. He says, “sometimes practice is like a doctor’s office,” but the team continues to adapt to perform. Tuohy plans for a long future with this team and this school, he aims to continue to teach and coach long term. What makes him different from other XC coaches is his long-term commitment, he said, “It’s a long-term process.”
Tuohy has specific needs and requirements from his athletes, they must put in the same amount of work and commitment as he is. His coaching philosophy falls in, “It’s less about what you do during practice and more about what you do outside of practice. There’s so much about coaching the person, not the athlete, that’s what this is all about.” This philosophy has bread high performances from athletes such as Kayla O’Neil, Sameer Katwala, Danny Phillips, Annelise Barney, and Trey Esak. At the Cherokee Challenge on September 10th, all of the female cross-country athletes placed within 16 seconds of each other! IH Girls XC is now ranked #6, while Boys XC is #4 in North Jersey. Tuohy detailed, “The guys have a lot of hype because they have four…or five…very good athletes who have a world of potential.”
These results are ahead of Monday’s (10/3), competition in the Big North Patriot League Championship. However with the graduation of a high-performing set of senior athletes, what will the future look like for this team? Tuohy believes, “We have this crazy sophomore class, we’re very lucky because they are some of the most hardworking people we’ve had…a genuinely nice group of people…they are the future.” Hard work and dedication are qualities that are not only searched for but bread through IH XC. “Everyone is accountable for each other,” according to not only Tuohy but athletes like Kayla O’Neil.
The team has a tangible amount of closeness and comfortability that is not found in any other IH sport. The new coach shared the story of a ritual-filled horse they found while he was running here. This wooden toy horse was signed by hundreds of XC seniors, and now (thanks to Tuohy’s efforts) accompany them to several meets a season. These efforts, including pasta dinners, and non-running-related activities help create the team dynamic Tuhoy and other coaches are looking for.
New coaches typically bring new opportunities for high performances, however, it is historically accurate to assume new coaches also indirectly bring instability. In this case, due to his personal experience and dedication to coaching here (rather than anywhere else), Tuohy has bypassed this period of uncertainty. As big meets loom shortly, including the New Balance Shore Invitational, Meet of Champions, and eventually, the Garmin Runningland National Championships on December 3rd, Indian Hills Boys and Girls Cross-Country remains a team to watch.