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On Your Mark. Get Set. Noe.

From running the school, to running on the track, Rebecca Noe does it all.

It’s been around 2 months since Oyster River High School’s (ORHS) Principal Rebecca Noe took the title of coach on behalf of the ORHS indoor track and field program. Despite being part of an interim arrangement, her qualifications for the job are extensive. Both Noe and the team have adapted well to this adjustment for the 2023 season. Her experience, enthusiasm, and the team’s willingness to accept such a big shift have played a role in making the new arrangement work.

     Noe has a USA Track and Field Level 1 certification for coaching. To add to this, she has an extensive repertoire of running and coaching experience. She started running competitively when she was 15, ran collegiately, and still trains for marathons. Noe spent a year running for Florida Gulf Coast University Cross Country, and eventually spent a year coaching there as well. After moving away from Florida she coached both indoor, outdoor, and/or cross country for a wide variety of schools. She spent time helping coach high school teams in Bedford and Concord, and 11 years as a head coach for Pinkerton Academy.

These qualifications surprised a lot of athletes when Noe began coaching. Elianna Dulin (’24) has been on the indoor and outdoor teams since her freshman year. She said, “I was sort of shocked. I had no idea that she was a collegiate runner, and my initial thought was like, this is kind of weird.”

     Denise Nadig (’23) is a senior distance runner who was also shocked by Noe’s background. “I wasn’t expecting her to have so much experience because you’re so used to like, the middle school coaches who just have a passion for the sport. And it was weird to separate the people: Principal Noe and Coach Noe. Because with any coach you need to be able to be real, to complain about a sore ankle or when a workout sucks. At first it was hard to do that.”

However, Head Coach Nicolas Ricciardi had confidence in the team’s ability to trust her experience and integrate her into the program. Ricciardi said, “I did not see any sort of hesitation or distrust in the process.” And since that initial reaction, ORHS’ runners have been impressed with what they’ve seen from Coach Noe.

“She’s helped us so much that I can’t help but be grateful for her,” said Theo Fleischer (‘23), a senior distance runner. Ricciardi works primarily with the sprinters and kids competing in field events. This group is typically referred to as Power Crew. Noe was brought on to focus training mid-distance and distance runners. “She brings a pretty unique perspective from her training in triathlons, and ironmans to indoor track […] especially about the recovery aspect of it,” said Fleischer. He also said, “She puts on miles, which is very impressive. She knows what she’s talking about, and she knows what she’s doing.”

Even athletes who aren’t working directly with Noe have recognized how effective she is as a coach. “I think Mrs. Noe is a great asset to our team right now and is exactly what we needed in this moment,” said Dulin, who’s a sprinter.

Nadig complimented a specific trait of Noe’s coaching style, saying, “she has this grit for her runners. She keeps you honest with your times and motivates you to follow the workout.”

Noe noticed a similarly impressive grit within the team. She knows from experience that there’s an urge to stretch out your rest time, and that as a coach sometimes you must be very persistent and motivational with your athletes to keep them honest. However, she said, “you guys are on it. You’re more knowledgeable about it than a lot of kids are. I know a lot of that is Mr. Ricciardi. He really teaches you why you’re doing what you’re doing. But then you guys actually listen and learn it.”

Noe’s enthusiasm as a coach is recorded on the Instagram page @orhs_noe. Pictures with your face scrunched and body pushing its limits mid-race don’t always prove to be the most flattering, but that hasn’t diminished the team’s enjoyment of Noe’s page. “I think the pictures she takes are absolutely hilarious because no, they’re not going to be the best quality, but that’s what makes them so great,” said Dulin.

“I think it’s so funny. After meets we all go to see what the pictures look like. Sometimes it’s disappointing,” Fleischer laughed, and then continued, “but no I like it, I think it’s very funny.”

Noe posts her own running pictures even if they’re bad. “It shows the hard work! I also recognize having coached for so long, cross country and track are not the sports where you have a lot of spectators. You don’t have the big student section,” Noe said. “I saw it as the perfect time to highlight the kids who don’t always get the same things as say, soccer kids.”

The commitments required of Noe as principal prevent her from filling the role of assistant coach permanently, so the school is currently looking for a long-term option. Even though she won’t hold the position beyond this season, returning to coaching has reminded her how much she loves it. She’s also missed building relationships with students in a capacity other than as principal. Noe would love to stay involved, however that may look.

ORHS is currently offering a $3,544 stipend for an Outdoor Track Assistant Coach. The job would include working alongside Head Coach Ricciardi, with a primary focus on training long-distance athletes. This means that Assistant Coach Noe’s days with the ORHS track team might be limited, but we can all expect for the boundless support to continue well beyond that, along with the iconic @orhs_noe Instagram posts after every meet.

– Mia Boyd

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