Fenwick High School introduced Latoya Zubowicz-Hill as its new girls cross country head coach on the school’s Facebook page on July 19. She replaces Kevin Roche, who stepped down after last season for personal reasons.
“I’m very grateful and excited for the opportunity,” said Zubowicz-Hill in a phone interview with the Wednesday Journal. “We’re a couple of weeks in, and I’m still getting my footing set.”
A St. Ignatius alumna, Zubowicz-Hill competed collegiately at Ball State University in women’s cross country and track and field.
“I’ve always been a runner,” she said.
Once her collegiate career ended, Zubowicz-Hill looked for ways to stay involved.
“I missed the sport greatly, and so in 2020, I got my USA Track and Field certification,” she said. “I was set to work for [Oak Park] District 97 and do a [cross country] program, but COVID-19 occurred, and I wasn’t able to do that. I’ve been working with my kid and his friends on speed and agility, and my son [Marek] kept coming home saying the coaches needed someone to help with 400-meter running. So, I talked with them, gave them my resume and volunteered my time.”
Zubowicz-Hill worked as assistant with Fenwick’s boys track and field team last spring, working with the 400-meter runners and the 300-meter hurdlers. She said members of the girls team who were doing the same events came to her asking for advice.
“I’m a mother first, so I help whoever needs help,” Zubowicz-Hill said.
When the Friars needed to find a replacement for Roche, they didn’t have to look far as the answer was inside the building.
“[Boys head coach Jeremiah Thompson] came to me and asked if I had thought about coaching cross country,” Zubowicz-Hill said. “I said I had not, but I did have the background since I did middle distance in college. We talked about it, and the next thing I knew, [Athletic Director Scott Thies] had me interview for the position. I thought about it and saw the need and accepted the offer.”
Zubowicz-Hill says things have been seamless so far, and she’s eager to start fall practice.
“Everything I’ve asked [the girls], they’ve done and gone beyond,” she said. “They communicate well, work hard, and do their best. Come August 7 [start of fall practice], everyone should be aware of my expectations of them and be ready to roll.”
Fenwick has been solid lately in girls cross country, and with seven seniors returning, Zubowicz-Hill believes the Friars can maintain it.
“My vision for the program is for it to continue to grow,” she said. “When people think of local Catholic high schools with strong girls cross country programs, I hope that they look at Fenwick.”
Zubowicz-Hill also will be a regular presence at Fenwick’s football games as well. Her son, Marek, a rising senior, is the likely starting quarterback, and her husband Talmadge, a former Oak Park and River Forest star quarterback, is the Friars’ quarterback coach.
“I’m always at a football game, unless this year it conflicts with a meet,” she said.