BALTIMORE - Rick Woods, Loyola University Maryland's men's and women's cross country head coach, will retire at the end of the 2014-15 academic year, the university announced following his 13-year tenure with the program.
"Rick has been a dedicated and caring leader of our men's and women's cross country student-athletes during his time at Loyola," said Jim Paquette, Loyola's assistant vice president and director of athletics. "He has embodied the Jesuit ideals Loyola upholds with caring for the whole person, and we are incredibly grateful for the time and energy he has spent here. We wish Rick and his wife, Jamie, the best in the future."
Woods came to Loyola in 2002 as an assistant coach for the program, and he was named the head coach in July 2004.
During his time as Loyola's head coach, Woods led teams to 13 fourth-place or higher finishes at conference meets, an NCAA National Championship cross country participant, three All-NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional honorees and multiple teams that received regional rankings.
"Retiring from coaching is bittersweet; while it will be nice to spend more time with the family, I will truly miss the team and athletic department staff," Woods said. "My time at Loyola was filled with some amazing experiences. Being part of the best men's and women's NCAA regional teams in Loyola's history and making it to a National Championship are just a few, but the best part, and what I will miss most, is the team and their amazing families who have supported us like we were rock stars. It's comforting to know I will have those friends and memories forever."
Prior to becoming the head coach, he was an assistant to one Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Cross Country Championship squad and back-to-back Maryland State Championship teams.
Woods' teams were also high performers in the classroom, earning conference and U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association academic awards throughout his time at the Evergreen campus.In Loyola's inaugural season in the Patriot League, Kiera Harrison earned All-Region honors at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional under Woods' tutelage, becoming the third student-athlete under Woods to garner such prestige. A day later, Harrison garnered the school's first ever at-large bid to the 2013 NCAA Cross Country Championships, where she placed 148th on the national stage.
"Rick has been a valuable member of our coaching staff and a mentor for many student-athletes," said Chris Archacki, an assistant athletic director at Loyola. "His leadership with our team and commitment to our athletic department will be missed. I appreciate his efforts with our student-athletes and wish him well personally and professionally in the future."
In his first year as an assistant at Loyola, Woods helped lead the women's cross country squad to team titles at the Cross Country-Only National Championships and the Maryland State Collegiate Cross Country Championship, while helping the men's squad finish third at the Cross Country-Only National Championships.
That year's women's team finished fourth at the 2002 MAAC Championships as Jackie Truncellito won the individual title by six-tenths of a second. The Greyhounds then won the 2003 MAAC women's team crown.
In his second year as the Greyhounds' head coach, 2005, Woods guided the women to a runner-up finish at the MAAC Championships while mentoring Caitlin Dunne to an individual championship at the conference meet. Dunne and Andrea Rovegno also earned All-Region honors with Top-15 showings at the Mid-Atlantic Regional later that year.