Virginia Wesleyan University put a spotlight on the newly hired Head Cross Country and Assistant Track and Field Coach Colby DelBene. He graduated from Central Connecticut State University where he was a member of the CCSU Cross Country/Track and Field team. From CCSU, Delbene holds a degree in Communication and a master’s in Teaching from Liberty University. DelBene appreciates how welcoming the VWU athletics programs are.
“I am looking forward to joining such a warm and friendly sense of community with each sport supporting each other,” DelBene said.
DelBene has experience coaching diverse levels of competition, having coached for the University of Lynchburg at the Division III level for one year and coming from a six-year stint at Jefferson Forest High School.
DelBene has no issues with committing and investing time into a program and talks about long-term goals for the Cross Country and Track and Field events. “Within the next four years or so, my primary goal is to build a program that can compete in Cross Country and the distance side of Track and Field for ODAC championships,” DelBene said.
DelBene is coming in with an open mind. “I am impressed with the positivity while doing things these athletes haven’t done before and I am excited about the enthusiasm of the team,” DelBene said. His objective as a coach is not to just focus on how they are as athletes but who they are as people.
“My hope is to influence the team’s culture in a positive way such as physical goals of making people faster, but also helping make them better people is really important to me,” DelBene said.
DelBene plans on building a family culture for the Cross Country team, increasing ambition within the team while creating a supportive environment. “It starts with the culture and community and from there the performance will follow,” DelBene said.
This season, the Cross Country team will have to rebuild as a community with only a few distance runners remaining. “There is already really good representation of leadership amongst the team with diverse personalities that has everyone bringing something valuable to the program,” DelBene said.
A senior on the Cross Country team, Marranda Hansford, said, “Coach DelBene knows what he is doing from his own experience as a runner and I’m ready to see what he can bring to the table.” Hansford explains that his coaching style is different from the previous coach and “he pushes you and gives exercises for each individual athlete to be working specific things as a runner.”
When asked how DelBene would help the team spirit, Hansford said, “motivation will go up, before every practice he says a quote by a famous runner to give background on the sport and encourage the team.”
He also explained that after Coach DelBene was hired, runners came back to the program hoping for a positive change within the program and trusting that DelBene will bring that. “Even at six-thirty in the morning, people are wide awake and excited to be at practice,” Hansford said, already noticing a change in the team’s practice dynamic.
“I am excited to see where the new morale DelBene is bringing into the team goes and what else he can teach us,” Hansford said while speaking on the future of the Cross Country program.
Colton Spence, another senior on the Cross Country team, said, “DelBene has been talking to us individually about how we should be focusing on goals, what we should be expecting in the future for the program, his communication is very involved and overall holds a very positive attitude.”
DelBene is moving forward within the program by creating a safe space for the Cross Country athletes to become a team and not just individual athletes. “He wants to be a team, working on coming together as one, going towards the same goal and not just separated by each event,” Spence said.
By Mikayla Szudera