The University of Victoria Vikes are pleased to announce the appointment of Hilary Stellingwerff as the Program Leader of the Cross Country and Track program effective as of April 15.
“We are delighted to affirm Hilary as our program leader for men’s and women’s cross country and middle distance. A highly accomplished student-athlete and Olympian, Hilary has contributed significantly to our program as an assistant coach and she has evidenced a strong commitment to being a professional coaching leader,” said Clint Hamilton, Director of Vikes Athletics and Recreation. “Over the past year as interim program leader, Hilary displayed a tremendous ability to build important relationships with the student-athletes under her charge and we are confident that the experiences and qualities that enabled Hilary to become a world-class athlete will benefit our Vikes program into the future.”
Stellingwerff served as the interim head coach last season following the retirement of long time head coach Brent Fougner. She becomes the sixth head coach in the program’s history.
Over Fougner’s 31-year run with the program, he produced nine U SPORTS cross country championships and 60 U SPORTS track medalists. He was named U SPORTS Cross Country Coach of the Year nine times (five with the men, four with the women) and served as an assistant coach with Athletics Canada at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He remained with the Vikes this past year as an assistant coach.
Stellingwerff served as a part-time assistant under Fougner from 2013-16. In 2016, she moved into a full-time assistant role until last summer when she was named the interim head coach.
“I am both honoured and thrilled to be selected to officially lead the Vikes Cross Country and Track team. I’ve been fortunate enough to be mentored by Brent over the last six years and have learned a great deal about what it takes to manage a team. I hope to continue the Vikes legacy while putting my own mark on the program,” said Stellingwerff. “We have an incredible team culture and great group of student-athletes, along with strong alumni and university support. I look forward to helping our athletes continue to strive to be the best they can be while also welcoming new recruits to an unbelievable program and university.”
In her first year leading the program, she helped nine Vikes qualify for the U SPORTS National Track and Field Championship. In Edmonton at the national meet, she helped Vaughn Taylor win gold in the men’s 600-metre and Brandon Vail win bronze in the men’s 3,000m race. At the Canada West track meet, the Vikes earned four medals, two of which were gold.
Earlier this winter, Stellingwerff received her first international coaching opportunity when she was named an assistant coach for Team Canada during the Pan-American Cross Country Championship, which took place at the Bear Mountain Golf and Country Club.
During the cross country season, Stellingwerff guided the women to a fifth-place finish at the Canada West level and a fourth-place finish for the men. The Vikes also earned one Canada West First Team All-Star and two Second Team All-Stars.
At the U SPORTS National Cross Country Championship, the women placed 12th, while the men cracked the top 10 with a ninth-place finish.
Fougner will remain with the Vikes as an assistant along with Marilyn Arsenault. One of Stellingwerff’s assistants from last season, Yuichi Takahashi, moved back to Japan and will not be with the Vikes next season.
As a former runner on the international stage for Canada, Stellingwerff competed in multiple Canadian championships and held a spot on the 1,500m podium for eight-straight years, which included gold medals in 2007 and 2008 to go along with five silver medals (2005-06, 2009, 2011-12) and one bronze (2010). She made her Olympic debut in 2012 during the London Games, where she advanced to the semifinals in the 1,500m.
After taking a break to start a family in 2014, she returned to competition in 2015 only to have her season end early with a stress fracture in her left fibula. In 2016, she got herself back on the national podium, finishing third in the 1,500m and qualified for her second Olympic Games.
Stellingwerff is a NCCP Level 3 certified coach and Chartered Professional Coach. She obtained Bachelor of Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she majored in journalism and communication arts, earned her teacher’s certification through University of Western Ontario’s Bachelor of Education program and completed a diploma in French Language at UVic.
As with all our varsity programs, cross country and track is currently decentralized, as student-athletes are focused on completing their academics via remote learning, while working on individualized fitness and skill development. Stellingwerff and her team of assistant coaches will support our student-athletes and incoming recruits remotely in preparation for the 2020-21 season.