Eastern Mennonite University has announced the resignation of Director of Cross Country and Track & Field Isaac Bryan, effective August 18.
With cross country season starting later this month, recent standout Hannah Chappell-Dick has been hired as the interim cross country coach, starting August 9. Director of Athletics Dave King will serve as the director of cross country and track & field until a replacement is hired.
"I am grateful for what Isaac brought with him from his previous experiences and contributed to the running programs in just two short years with us," King said. "His willingness to step into a newly created leadership role after one year was greatly appreciated. Isaac demonstrated his care for the whole student through teaching in the classroom as well. I wish him the best as he seeks new career opportunities outside of coaching."
This past year, Bryan oversaw a cross country and track & field program that sent three athletes to NCAA Championships. He worked directly with Hannah Nichols (Fredericksburg, Va./Chancellor) who earned All-American status in the indoor 800m as a freshman. Head Track & Field Coach Brian Simpson worked with junior Connor Faint (Winchester, Va./Millbrook), who was an All-American in the 400m hurdles, and sophomore Grant Amoateng (Bristow, Va./Patriot), who went to nationals in the outdoor triple jump.
Bryan coached at EMU for two seasons. He was the lead assistant under former Head Cross Country/Track & Field Coach Britten Olinger in 2015-16, before transitioning to the director position of the two programs last summer.
"I wish the EMU program the best in moving forward," Bryan said. "I am thankful for the opportunity I was given by Britten Olinger and am pleased with what we were able to accomplish during my time here. I am excited to move toward my next career goals outside of coaching."
One year removed from winning her final All-American medal at Eastern Mennonite, Chappell-Dick was excited for a chance to give back to her alma mater.
"It is an honor for me to serve as the interim cross country coach for a team and a university that nurtured me throughout my college years," she said. "I am incredibly grateful to have had the chance to run for Coach Bryan and consider him a friend. He, along with coaches Jason Lewkowicz and Britten Olinger, were formative mentors for me here at EMU."
Given her personal caliber as well as existing connection to the school, King was happy to find Chappell-Dick to fill the interim role.
"I am excited to welcome Hannah back to campus and give her an opportunity to give back to her alma mater," he said. "Having experienced coaching transitions while a collegiate athlete, I am confident that she will be able to bring a sense of stability to what could be a time of uncertainty for athletes. This past year of serving others through running programs as well as running professionally are experiences that will serve her well in this role."
Chappell-Dick was a five-time All-American for the Royals, earning her awards in cross country (once), indoor mile (twice) and outdoor 1500m (twice). She left EMU as one of the school's most-decorated athletes, also earning the Marjorie Berkley award as the ODAC's top female scholar-athlete as well as being named an NCAA Woman of the Year Top 30 Honoree.
Since graduating in 2016, Chappell-Dick has run semi-professionally with Atlanta Track Club Elite while volunteering with "Back on my Feet" in Atlanta's inner city.
She has also experienced coaching changes over her career and brings a heart for working through the resulting transition time.
"I know firsthand how nerve-wracking it can be to switch coaches partway through one's collegiate career," she explained, "so it is my goal to build a solid foundation of trust and communication within the team. It is my hope that each athlete feels enriched and challenged by this experience, as I did."
Chappell-Dick also brings a rare knowledge of professional club coaching.
"For the last year, I have trained with Atlanta Track Club Elite under coaches Andrew Begley and Amy Yoder-Begley, a 2008 10,000m Olympian, and will continue to do so as I prepare for the 2018 track season. I have grown as an athlete and a competitor under their leadership, and I look forward to passing on the wisdom I have gleaned from them."
Chappell-Dick will be assisted by Joanna Friesen, a Houghton College graduate and current student in the Eastern Mennonite Seminary.
A nationwide search for EMU's next director of cross country and track & field has begun.