Jay Phillips, a 2005 Mount St. Mary's University graduate, is returning to his alma mater to take over as Head Coach of the cross country and track and field programs, Mount St. Mary's Director of Athletics Lynne Robinson announced on May 27, 2015.
"We are thrilled to welcome Jay Phillips back to the Mount community as the head coach of our track and field programs," Robinson said. "We know that Jay will bring not only a love for the Mount, but a passion and expertise for the sport of track and field, and we look forward to his leadership in the years to come."
Phillips' resume includes a nine-year stint on the Mount St. Mary's coaching staff before serving the 2014-15 season as Cross Country and Track and Field Head Coach at Division II Belmont Abbey in North Carolina.
"It gives me great joy to be returning to the Mount, and I continue to be overwhelmed by the love and support of the Mount community," Phillips said. "There is simply no better place to call home. I'd like to thank Lynne Robinson and Mike Hardisky for the honor of leading the Cross Country, Track & Field programs. I also wish to thank Belmont Abbey College for the opportunity to lead their programs this past season.
"Mount Cross Country, Track & Field athletes have always been a tough, loyal, and selfless group, and the young men and women on the team now stand firmly within that tradition. I am excited to continue the great program built by former head coaches Coach Stevenson and Coach Deegan."
After completing his four-year career as a standout sprinter on the track and earning his degree in 2005, Phillips immediately made the jump into the coaching ranks at the Mount working his way from Assistant Coach to Associate Head Coach from 2005-14.
During his tenure on staff at the Mount, Phillips' athletes broke eight school records as well as three Northeast Conference records. He coached 20 NEC Champions, 34 All-NEC honorees, two NEC Rookie of the Year and two NEC Most Outstanding Track Athlete of the Year winners.
Phillips' time as the head coach at Belmont Abbey produced four Conference Carolinas individual championships and the women's indoor track athlete MVP. His athletes also broke a dozen school records. In cross country, Phillips coached a top six finisher at the conference championships on the women's side while both the men's and women's squads won sportsmanship awards from the conference.
As a student-athlete for the Mountaineers, Phillips was one of the Mount's distinguished sprinters who consistently led the team on and off the track. A member of the Mount's all-time top sprinters' list, he was also a member of the Mount's All-East 4x400m relay team that still holds the school record.
Phillips was awarded the University's most prestigious academic award, the Flanagan Memorial Prize, given to the graduate who best represents the mission of Mount St. Mary's University in scholarship, conduct, and leadership. Phillips also earned the Sheridan Award in 2005, given to the graduating student-athlete who excels in both athletics and academics.
During his time as an assistant at the Mount, Phillips started the "Faith and Athletics" program in 2010, which is designed to provide student-athletes the opportunity to meaningfully integrate their life as an athlete with their spiritual life. Phillips also served as a lecturer in the undergraduate theology department from 2008-14.
Phillips takes over for Interim Head Coach Tim Nickas, who will remain on staff as Associate Coach. Nickas filled in during the spring after Jim Stevenson stepped down following nine years as the head coach.
Phillips is one of three Mount St. Mary's graduates currently serving as a head coach at their alma mater, joining Jamion Christian (Men's Basketball) and Tom Gosselin (Women's Soccer).
Phillips earned his bachelor's degree in theology from Mount St. Mary's in 2005 before going on to add a master's in theology in 2008 from the Mount.
Phillips resides in Emmitsburg with his wife Dale, daughter Adelaide and son Isaiah.
Tim Nickas will begin his first season as Associate Head Coach for cross Country, track and field after serving the 2013-14 season as an assistant.
Nickas, a three-year captain for the Mount, was a versatile competitor who specialized in the decathlon. He was a conference champion and an All-NEC First Team selection during the team’s 2012 outdoor season in the 4x400m relay. In the same season, he was a bronze medalist in the Outdoor NEC Championship pole vault. In 2011 Nickas placed fifth in the decathlon at the IC4A Championships, earning All-East honors, and was also third in the Penn Relays decathlon. In 2012, he was selected to compete internationally in Spain for the Athletes in Action program.
Prior to coaching, Nickas worked as a certified personal trainer and strength coach who specialized in sport specific development for high school and collegiate athletes, as well as NFL players. He was also a graduate assistant in Mount St. Mary’s Learning Services department where he helped improve the academic standing of student-athletes.
Nickas graduated from the Mount in 2012 with a degree in political science and minor in philosophy.
O'Hara, a graduate of Salisbury University, came to the Mount from Salisbury where he began his coaching career in 2002 as an assistant cross country and track & field coach. Entering his sixth season at the Mount, O'Hara has helped guide conference champions in the 800m, 1500m, 3000m steeplechase, distance medley relay and in cross country during his time at the Mount and Salisbury.
During his collegiate career O'Hara was a two-time All Mid-East Region Cross Country selection and was First Team All-Conference Cross Country selection all four years. He held Salisbury's indoor school record for both the 1500m and the 1000m, and was a two-time 1500m Outdoor Conference Champion.
O'Hara, originally from Frederick, ran at Governor Thomas Johnson High School. He earned his undergraduate degree in Elementary Education in 2001 and his master's degree in Middle/Secondary Education in 2003 from Salisbury University.
O'Hara and his wife Heidi currently reside in Frederick.