Track & field coach Eric Mobley has hired Adam Bray as the new assistant track and cross country coach, athletic communications confirmed last Thursday afternoon.
Bray will replace Matt Jelley, who resigned last month for a position at the University of Maryland. The announcement comes as the program prepares for its final season in the Atlantic 10 Conference before moving to the Big East Conference next fall, and eight days before the team’s opening meet of the season scheduled for this weekend.
“I’ve known coach Bray for a long time,” Mobley said. “And he’s had some really good experience with some national caliber type programs. His enthusiasm stood out among all of the other candidates. That enthusiasm will fit right into our program.”
Mobley was an assistant coach at the University of Akron from 2002 to 2004 while Bray was a student. Having already met and built a relationship with Mobley was a significant factor in Bray’s decision to move “halfway across the country” to Philadelphia, he said.
“[Mobley] told me that he was going to have a job opening,” Bray said. “He wanted me to apply for it, so I applied and went through all of those channels. Knowing him was definitely a draw for me to even look at Temple.”
For the past four seasons, Bray volunteered as an assistant at the University of Illinois, during which student-athletes earned several notable accolades including three All-Region (Midwest) performers in cross country, four NCAA qualifiers in track and a fifth-place finish for the cross country team at the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships. Before his stint at Illinois, Bray spent two years in the same position at Maryland.
Bray said he is confident his experience at such prestigious and respected institutions will go a long way into contributing to success at Temple.
“I feel like being a part of big programs and doing a lot with really talented athletes, I have that mentality to where I want to win,” Bray said. “I don’t want to be average. Attitude is 95 percent of the game and the sport. If you can have that, along with some confidence, and you throw a little bit of talent into the mix, good things start happening to you.”
Senior runner Rayna Kratchman said she is glad to see the addition of a new coach.
“It’s definitely refreshing,” Kratchman said. “I think he has a little bit more of a different outlook on the training and the season. He’s new to the program too, so I think he’s trying to see if some different things work.”
“And I definitely think he’s a lot more verbal and good at motivating us,” she added. “We have a lot of young people too, so I think he’s excited about having a new opportunity.”
The Owls’ youth and inexperience in the A-10 Conference is a challenge Bray said he’s looking forward to here at Temple.
“The team was on the lower end of the spectrum in terms of the A-10 and the Big East,” Bray said. “I like that challenge of having the ability to build my own program instead of going to another place where there was already success established.”
“Being a younger coach, I thought maybe this was an opportunity for me to claim my own stake,” Bray added.
In terms of the current rosters, Bray sees a lot of talented youth on both the men’s and women’s teams. What they are missing, he believes, is guidance – something he hopes to provide this season and beyond. Although they are young, the “one key ingredient,” Bray said, is the presence of two-time NCAA All-American redshirt senior Travis Mahoney.
“[Mahoney’s] a guy who is a national caliber runner,” Bray said. “So we can use him as an example for the younger guys and younger women on the team as to say, ‘Hey, you can be successful at a place like Temple.’ It takes hard work and dedication, but it’s very possible.”
Mahoney said he doesn’t think it’s easy to transition to a new coach this far into cross-country training. However, he said Bray has been making the switch a lot less difficult than it might otherwise be under different circumstances
“I think he’s had a good impact,” Mahoney said. “He’s been very willing to work with the team and make that adjustment and change easier for us.”
Bray has already implemented a new style of training for the student-athletes at school, a regimen that differs from what the team has experienced in past years.
“I bring that Midwest toughness mentality to it,” Bray said. “It’s a little simpler, and I’m stressing the recovery more. We’re doing hard workouts, but there has to be a balance. You can’t run easy all the time and be successful. And you can’t run hard all the time and be successful.”
Kratchman said Bray’s new training style of what she describes as “breaking up the workouts,” hits on a key area of needed improvement.
“He has emphasized a lot more strength and conditioning,” Kratchman said. “I think that’s something we struggled with a bit in the past, so I think that’ll be good for us.”
Sophomore Phil Fanz is also enjoying the installation of a new training philosophy for the team.
“[Bray] doesn’t kill us in workouts to the point where our bodies can’t handle it,” Fanz said. “He’s not one to focus on the times that we hit, just more the effort that we put in. We’ll see more as the season progresses, but as far as I’m concerned right now, I really like him a lot.”
The Owls will open their season this Friday at the Friend Invitational at Belmont Plateau, the location both teams practice. In its last year in the conference, Temple will host the A-10 Championships at the location as well. Although Mahoney said he may not be participating in the event – teams sometimes save their top runners for the bigger events of the season – others, including Kratchman, are looking forward to it.
“We’re all excited to be able to race there,” Kratchman said. “We’re hosting the conference, so I think we’re all really fired up to have a really good race and get a little taste of what A-10’s will be like.”
For Bray, what he’s most looking forward to is seeing the team compete for the very first time.
“I haven’t seen them race, other than [Mahoney] at the national meet,” Bray said. “We’ll have a race plan, and I want to see them execute that plan. I want to see how tough they are, and that’ll give us an indication of what kind of kids we have here and where we need to go from there.”
Avery Maehrer can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @AveryMaehrer.