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Fayetteville Christian Cross County Coach Retires


By Earl Vaughan Jr.

Tom Hess has tried to retire before as cross country coach at Fayetteville Christian School.

But this time, the 70-year-old legend says he’s serious.

Hess recently made the announcement to both his team and his peers at this year’s conference meet.

He leaves behind a 21-year career that saw him serve as head coach for 15 seasons after a military commitment brought him to Fort Bragg from his native Texas.

During that time, his Warrior teams won state titles in 2001 and 2002 and a total of 15 conference championships between his boys’ and girls’ cross country teams.

Hess also founded the track and field program at Fayetteville Christian.

His love for the sport started years ago when he was a walk-on at the University of North Texas and eventually became the top runner on his team. At one time he was a nationally-ranked marathon runner.

He dreamed for years of being a professional football player, but when he finally realized his size wasn’t going to allow that, he got involved in cross country.

His teenaged daughter, along with former Fayetteville Christian coach and athletic director Beny Neff, encouraged him to start the program at the school.

“We had no track or cross country,’’ he said. “Kids tend to recruit their friends. They did the recruiting and the program got established.’’

Hess feels both cross country and track are growing nationally because athletes who participate in both sports can go online and easily compare how they are performing with athletes at other schools around the country.

He will still be involved in a peripheral role with the Warrior program but will focus most on his ministry. “I’m a pastor at heart,’’ he said. “That’s what I do, pastoral work with the military.’’

Longtime Fayetteville Christian head of school Tammi Peters said Hess will be missed. “We are very proud of him and very thankful for him,’’ she said. “Kids come to our school because they want to run for Tom Hess.

“It goes beyond the impact on our cross country team. It’s the impact he has on their student lives.’’