Eastern Mennonite University has announced Erick Camodeca as the associate cross country and track and field coach.
Camodeca will start this summer, upon completion of his fifth season as the head coach of the Stevenson University track and field teams. He has also been an assistant with Stevenson’s cross country programs the past four years.
At Eastern Mennonite, Camodeca joins Bob Hepler who is starting this summer as the head coach for cross country and track and field. Camodeca said working with Hepler at an institution like EMU drew him in.
“The sense of a connected community throughout the entire campus made me feel I would be a valued member,” he explained. “The opportunity to work with Coach Hepler really has me excited, and gives me an opportunity to continue to grow and develop as a coach. Director of Athletics David King really sees the value and impact track & field/cross country can have on a campus and student-athletes, which is important in developing the program’s culture at the university.”
Taking over at Stevenson in the spring of 2014, Camodeca quickly rebuilt the track & field program to a powerhouse with an overall roster of 70 athletes. This year, the men’s team won their first-ever Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) indoor and outdoor championships as well as the indoor title at the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC).
Camodeca was named both the 2018 MAC Coach of the Year and the Mid-East Region Head Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
Hepler said Camodeca quickly rose to the top of the candidate pool.
“We did a lot of research on the candidates as part of the search process for the position. Erick’s coaching accomplishments speak for themselves. He is a top coach,” said Hepler. “However, his interviews and reference checks revealed a selfless, dedicated coach and husband who truly puts others first. That’s what made him stand out. EMU is extremely blessed to have Erick join the staff. I cannot wait to begin my partnership with him.”
Hepler, who himself has 22 conference championships under his belt as he wraps up a 14-year tenure at UT-Tyler, forms an incredible duo with Camodeca to lead the Royals’ program.
“I feel extremely fortunate to find two experienced and highly successful coaches interested in working together to re-build the cross country and track & field program here at EMU,” King said. “What Erick has done with the track program at Stevenson without having their own facility is a testament to the quality of his character and coaching ability along with his recruiting skills.”
King sensed a similarity between Hepler and Camodeca as both wanted to plug themselves and their student-athletes into all aspects of Eastern Mennonite University.
“The excitement Erick brings, along with his interest in coaching the whole student-athlete and engaging with the rest of campus, will bring immediate results that will move the program forward,” explained King. “In my short time of working with both Erick and Bob, I sense a humility in both of them that will result in a dynamic working relationship, ultimately providing a great student-athlete experience.”
Preceding this weekend’s release of 2018 NCAA Outdoor National Championship field, Camodeca has led 13 national qualifiers at Stevenson. His athletes have won four All-America honors as well as a number of regional and conference athlete of the year awards. During his time, the Mustangs broke 96 of the 106 indoor and outdoor men’s and women’s track records.
“We accomplished amazing feats at Stevenson in a short period of time,” said Camodeca. “At EMU, I see there is a lot of support, and a lot of resources available now and to come, to help build and sustain a competitive program.”
Combined with Hepler, Camodeca will instill a culture of going the extra mile.
“I absolutely love what I do. I believe programs take on the values and energy of their leadership and that leads to a program’s success,” he said. “Practice is the easy part; it’s what we do outside of practice that really determines our success. Are we treating people with respect, are we getting it done in the classroom, and are we taking care of our bodies? How we handle those aspects is what really sets us apart.”
Before his time at D-III Stevenson, Camodeca spent a season as an assistant with D-I Loyola University Maryland. He also won four Capital Athletic Conference Coach of the Year honors and coached three All-Americans during a six-year tenure leading the cross country and track & field programs at D-III York College (Pa.).
King was appreciative of the work done by the interim staff in recent months.
“My thanks to interim cross country coach Hannah Chappell-Dick from this fall, and to interim track & field coach Ken L. Nafziger and assistants Michael Allen, Joanna Friesen, Jeremy Heizer, Tim Miller and Richard Robinson for providing leadership during this year’s indoor and outdoor seasons including the upcoming national championships,” said King.
The current track & field season will wrap up later this month, as both All-American hurdler Connor Faint (Winchester, Va./Millbrook) and triple jumper Grant Amoateng (Bristow, Va./Patriot) expect to qualify for the NCAA National Championships, which are May 24-26 in La Crosse, Wisc.