The Vanguard are unable to find a replacement for head coach, expand middle school XC program

Despite having a volleyball program that was consistently competitive in the Casco League, Veritas was unable to find a replacement for head coach Rachel Schippers.

Schippers and her husband, Mike, founded the program but because Veritas does not have its own gym, often struggled to find places to practice and hold games.

With both challenges still unresolved, the school dropped the sport for the school year. Like many Veritas students do in other sports, volleyball players can compete for teams in their home public school district. Photo Credit: SETH GORDON - The Veritas cross country team will be coached by sixth grade teacher and former Amity coach Ken McChesney, who co-founded the school's middle school program two years ago.

“Mike and Rachel did a fantastic job getting our volleyball program off the ground,” headmaster Mike Lynch said. “They started it from nothing and turned it, in just a few years, into a league contender. They did a great job and we were really pleased with their coaching for us.”

Volleyball was the school’s only OSAA varsity sport, but will be replaced by cross country this fall.

The team will be coached by sixth grade teacher and former Amity coach Ken McChesney, who co-founded the school’s middle school program two years ago.

“We’re very excited about cross country,” Lynch said. “Ken is a very experienced, positive and encouraging teacher and coach. I think cross country is going to be a good addition to our activities.”

McChesney comes from a prominent Eugene running family, as all three of his brothers, including 1980 U.S. Olympic team member Phil McChesney, ran at the University of Oregon.

McChesney had a stellar career himself, setting the national record for the half-marathon (1:11.48) when he was 15 and placed second in cross country at the Junior Olympics after taking a year off after graduating from South Eugene High School. He later followed his father’s footsteps and ran for the University of Montana, where he won a junior national championship.

As a coach, McChesney has also enjoyed great success, winning three consecutive boys district championships in his three years at Amity, culminating in a fourth-place state finish in 2008.

“I’m a person who’s huge into sound running mechanics,” McChesney said. “So we do a lot of working with kids individually, helping them to have a stride that works for them so they can run with efficiency.”

The middle school program, which will have between 12 and 15 runners and be coached by John Price this year, has also flourished under McChesney’s leadership.

In its first season, the Vanguard participated in the middle school race at the 3A-2A-1A special district four championships at Crow High School. Veritas won the meet, but because they were not a league member, were awarded the third-place trophy.

“We always joke that our first trophy was a first-place effort for a third-place trophy,” McChesney said.

The Vanguard competed as guests in the Metro Christian League last year, also winning that meet, and will be official members this fall.

McChesney has recruited three runners — freshmen Thaddeo Pia, Madison McChesney and Jacob Chung — to the high school squad, but hopes a few more will come out by the end of the first week of school.

“I’m really encouraged,” McChesney said. “I think we’re starting to get the high school kids comfortable with the idea of the sport. I think the middle-schoolers are pretty well established and that program is growing.”

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