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Duquesne's Slosky earns cross country coach of the year honor in debut season

| Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, 12:31 a.m.
Highlands alum Tom Slosky earned the Atlantic 10 Conference's women's cross country Coach of the Year honor in his first season in charge of Duquesne's distance running program.

In the same way Tom Slosky previously devoted himself to his distance races, he now dedicates himself to shaping other multi-mile runners.

Recent developments in Duquesne's cross country season further stoked Slosky's coaching fire.

The 2004 Highlands grad, not far removed from a standout career at Duquesne, is in his first year as coach of the Dukes' distance running program. He needed little time to add accolades to his legacy, as on Nov. 2, he received the Atlantic 10's women's cross country Coach of the Year honor while his women's team won the program's first conference title.

“I saw the women's program struggle for years, and it's had its ups and downs,” said Slosky, who won the Atlantic 10 individual men's title in 2007 and later succeeded his former coach, Jim Lear. “I was able to see it turn for the better, but I'm just small portion of the help that made this a great team.”

Duquesne will compete in the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional meet Friday at Lehigh.

Slosky, a former Duquesne assistant, has shaped his coaching style based on what he learned from Lear and a number of other former coaches, including Highlands' Mike Foster, Chet Foster and Tom Abbott. His coaching identity remains a work in progress, he said, and he wants to build and refine it at Duquesne during the next several years.

“I wanted to give back to the university that did so much for me as a student-athlete in so many ways,” he said. “I remember walking on to Duquesne's campus and someone asking me what I want to do with myself. I was between majors and wasn't really sure. There were only two things I knew I wanted to do, and one of them was being a coach. I had a gut feeling that college running would be a part of my future.”

Slosky supervises the cross country teams in the fall and will handle men's and women's track team members who run middle- and long-distance events in the spring. While he's comfortable with coaching runners in cross country and track's several mile-plus races, Slosky admits he wants to brush up on his knowledge of the 800-meter event and even the 1,500 to some extent.

So deep is his determination to enhancing his coaching knowledge and abilities, Slosky no longer worries about saving his time and energy for his own runs. He still jogs miles at a time through Schenley Park, the home of Duquesne's cross country course. But marathons, 5Ks and other organized races are part of his past.

“I've lost the competitiveness,” he said. “I don't know what happened. I don't know if it was when I started getting more into coaching, if I was just more excited about that and wanted to harness that into coaching instead of running. But for some reason, I just started to lose it. And it didn't bother me, either.

“Nowadays, I like to work out, and I still like to run. But I don't feel a big need to go out and get competitive. Because it's time and effort, and I'd rather take that time and effort and put it into other things in my life — things like recruiting, growing as a coach, talking to the athletes.”

If nothing else, Slosky just wants to match the efforts of an athletic department that he believes is steering its running teams in a promising direction.

“They've really put the resources into us in believing that we can win Atlantic 10 titles, and I wanted to make sure that it happened,” he said. “I saw the potential that they had as a volunteer coach and an assistant coach. Now I'm running the distance program, and I believe we can continue doing this. We have the mentalities and the right direction. We definitely have the talent. So it's all coming together and is something amazing to be a part of.”

Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at wwest@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.

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