For the first time since 1987, the Amity High boys’ outdoor track and field program will have a different head coach.
Thursday afternoon, 2009 Southern Connecticut State University graduate Gary Pope was announced as the new head coach.
Pope takes over for Thom Jacobs who resigned last June.
“I’ve always had that desire (to coach) it was just a matter of where,” Pope said. “I’m really excited to meet the guys on the team. I’m just excited to fill the shoes of the great coaches of the program.”
Pope comes into the program with a rich history of the sport. A high school graduate of Erasmus Hall in Brooklyn, N.Y. Pope, who specialized in sprints and relays, attended Southern from 2005-09 where he was a three-time All-American.
“I’ve always known about Amity. I had teammates (at Southern) that went to Amity, so I have a pretty good knowledge of the program and history.”
Pope will take over for Jacobs who led the Spartans to state titles in 2000, 2009 and 2010 and nine Southern Connecticut Conference outdoor titles since 2000. Amity has also not lost a dual meet since 2004, a winning streak of over 100 meets that is still intact.
“I know it’s big shoes to fill,” Pope said. “He’s done a great job with the program. I’m looking to build on what he has done and keep moving the program in the right direction.”
Pope, who is a social worker, previously was with the Naugatuck track program as an assistant. Pope said his philosophy is based on the student-athletes reaching their potential on and off the track.
“I’m really big on teamwork and teaching the kids the value of teamwork,” he said.