A running start

Jerry Molyneaux, who built a dynasty at Western, begins anew at Northwestern

December 05, 2007|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,Special To The Sun

During Jerry Molyneaux's 20 years as coach of the track programs at Western, the Doves captured three state titles and 16 Baltimore City championships outdoors, and every city title indoors going back to the early '90s.

Now, Molyneaux is starting with a clean slate and in a new place.

Molyneaux left Western to take over as athletic director at Northwestern this fall. He'll be coaching the girls and trying to revitalize the school's long-dormant track and field program, while hoping to give a spark to the entire Northwestern athletic scene.

Molyneaux said he had been hoping for a chance to be an athletic director for a long time. He also wanted the opportunity to coach where he teaches, which he never did at Western.

Molyneaux, who taught at Pimlico Middle School for 23 years before the school closed last spring, was looking for the right place to go, and when the Northwestern opportunity opened up, he felt the time was right to make the move.

"I wanted to hold on to Western, but knew I couldn't hold on forever," Molyneaux said. "It's a new challenge for me. I'm trying very hard to bring the school from zero to the very top."

He's got a lot of work to do with the running program. Last year's Northwestern indoor team had a grand total of three girls. Molyneaux has been tirelessly working the hallways, talking to students, encouraging kids to think about trying track.

There are 20 girls on this year's team, and Molyneaux is trying to get them to understand the importance of coming to practice.

That's not something Molyneaux ever had to worry about with his championship teams at Western.

"The kids have to come to practice, and that's the bottom line," Molyneaux said. "If they don't come to practice, they won't get any better. But I believe that after running a few races and getting some success, they'll probably get more motivated to practice."

In addition to trying to improve the track program, Molyneaux said his short-term goal as athletic director is to make Northwestern's teams competitive in the major sports and for people to notice the Wildcats.

"It is fun building, and I love building programs," Molyneaux said. "It's like a cake. I'd like a cake that I build from scratch. I don't want a cake that's already made. It will taste better when I eat it."

Western athletic director David Lang said the Doves were sorry to lose Molyneaux but understood why their long-term coach decided to leave.

"He's been looking for an athletic director's position for several years," Lang said. "I'm happy that he finally got one, and he's got one where he can build a new program."

Bob Wade, Baltimore City's coordinator of athletics, said he thinks Molyneaux will have a positive effect on Northwestern's programs.

"I think he has a lot to offer the program there," Wade said. "We all know that he's a hard worker and a very dedicated individual. He'll do some good things for the entire program, even though his emphasis is on track and field and cross country."

Northwestern might be down in track now, but that wasn't always the case. The school was one of the area's track powerhouses about 30 years ago.

Longtime McDonogh coach Jeff Sanborn remembers how impressive the Wildcats were back in the day. At that time, Baltimore City and private schools competed together in the Maryland Scholastic Association, and McDonogh often ran against schools like Northwestern.

Sanborn, who coaches McDonogh with Alrick Munroe, said he remembers the style and aura the Wildcats had back in the early '80s. They would come running onto the track, do a very slow lap in a long line and then go to the middle of track, form a circle and do their exercises.

"The question is [if he] can get the kids out there," Sanborn said. "There's certainly a great number of athletes in the public school system, and ... if he can get those track kids out there, that's the key."

Molyneaux is off to a good start. He guided Northwestern's girls to a fourth-place finish in this fall's city cross country championship and now is trying to prepare the Wildcats for the rigors of indoor track and field.

He's already talking about his Wildcats making some noise in the Baltimore City championships later this winter.

It's all part of the building process.

"Hey, it's making my blood flow, really and truly," Molyneaux said. "It's going to be a test to see how good a coach I am. I'm looking forward to it."

The poll

(Last season's ranking in parentheses)

Boys

1. Meade (4) 2. Digital Harbor (8) 3. Mount St. Joseph (1) 4. Gilman (2) 5. Howard (7) 6. Poly (6) 7. Mervo (unranked) 8. River Hill (unranked) 9. C. Milton Wright (unranked) 10. Francis Scott Key (unranked)

Others considered -- Atholton (unranked), Bel Air (unranked), Calvert Hall (No. 9), Loyola (No. 30), South River (unranked).

Girls

1. Seton Keough (1) 2. Annapolis (8) 3. McDonogh (2) 4. Digital Harbor (7) 5. Western (4) 6. Howard (unranked) 7. Hereford (5) 8. North (3) 9. River Hill (unranked) 10. C. Milton Wright (unranked)

Others considered -- Dulaney (unranked), Mervo (unranked), Mount Hebron (No. 6), Northwestern (unranked), South Carroll (unranked).

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