Stephanie Reilly left Bryant University over the winter to take a job with the Providence College Friars, whom she starred for in her heyday as an NCAA athlete. Steph spent the last 8 years building up the Bryant program, and oversaw the transition of the program from DII to DI. From a Bryant release on her departure:
During her time in Smithfield, Reilly was instrumental in developing the Black and Gold into one of the top cross country and track & field programs in the NEC. Over the last two seasons, she has guided the men’s and women’s cross country teams to historic performances at the NEC Championships, earning back-to-back runner-up finishes on the women’s side. Under Reilly, the Bulldogs earned two NEC Cross Country Athletes of the Year, two NEC Cross Country Rookies of the Year, one All-Northeast Region runner and 12 All-NEC selections. In track, Reilly coached 14 All-NEC selections and four individual champions in her eight years.
Steph’s role with the Friars will be head women’s track coach and assistant cross country coach. Although she won’t have quite the control that she had with her program at Bryant, it certainly is a bigger stage in Providence and a great career move for her.
We caught up with Steph over email, discussing the move and also her upcoming racing plans:
How is the new job going?
Everything is going fantastic. The indoor season was very successful with Emily winning the national championships and Julian qualifying in the mile. I am really enjoying working with Ray (Treacy) and Tim (Brock).
What is the biggest difference between an established program like PC vs and up and coming program like Bryant?
The biggest difference is the level of competition and where the main goal of each season lies. At PC the NCAA championships is our season goal and where we want to have our best performances. Conference is the beginning of our competitive season and where we start performing at the higher level. At Bryant our biggest focus was being very successful at the conference level and continuing to build on that.
What’s the most challenging aspect of the new job?
I don’t really see anything as a challenge per se, but more of a change in routine and schedule. Being a Providence alum really helped. We travel more for meets so with our kids at the age of participating in things like soccer, it just means we have to plan our family schedule on the weekends. It takes a great support network to make a change like this, so I am very fortunate to have that in Paul and the kids.
How tough was it to leave the program that you built up?
For sure it was tough leaving - Bryant was the only school I had coached at before the change and I worked very hard during the transition from D2 to D1 to make it as successful as possible in our new conference, which you could really see on the cross country side. I enjoyed every minute of building the program there, and was very fortunate to have an administration that gave me the space and resources to do so. And of course the athletes made it all worth it as they were so committed to getting better and progressing from season to season and year to year.
Is it easier or harder to fit your own training into this new schedule?
I would say it is just a different schedule now. I do most of my running early morning, 5-7am, before I even go into work, and I do what I can and leave it at that. I don’t follow a schedule at all, and if I have a day I can run longer, I do, and if I can only fit in a few miles then I do that. I jump in and pace some of the workout groups at PC once in a while. On weekends when I don’t have meets I do two really good days of training (long run or long tempo).
Speaking of training, how has marathon training been going?
Ha - well I think I have pretty much answered that above. I am going into the marathon positive in doing what I can for my current fitness level. I feel I have put in a few more longer runs and tempo runs than I did when I jumped into Baystate in October. I am going to take the same approach and run according to how I feel and hopefully work into it and run a little quicker second half. I have always wanted to run Boston so I am looking forward to it no matter what. A PR would be a good day.
Just ‘jumping into’ Baystate, you still ran an impressive 2:47. Did that mark a more permanent shift to longer distances?
That really excited me to train properly for a marathon, and maybe next fall I will actually have that opportunity with a good summer of training, but for this upcoming Boston I am just going to try and run a little faster than I did there and see what happens.
What made you decide to run Boston?
I live literally 15 minutes from the start line of the Boston marathon, and it’s school vacation week, and everyone talks about Boston and how amazing the crowds are. There is incredible history surrounding Boston, so I wanted to at least run it once to be a part of that history and experience.
Good luck to Steph as her Friars start up their outdoor season and as she gets ready to run her first ever Boston Marathon! It’ll be interesting to see how fast the Olympic steeplechaser can run on somewhat limited training.