When he was offered the position of head coach for the Rutgers-Camden cross-country team, Cherry Hill resident Patrick Gartland realized he was on the verge of achieving a dream.
However, to do so, he would have to leave a school he called home for many years as a student and coach.
On July 6, Gartland was announced as the new cross-country head coach at Rutgers-Camden after spending five years coaching at his alma mater, Gloucester Catholic High School.
Gartland said coaching at the college level is something he has always wanted to do.
“My goal has always been to coach in college,” Gartland said. “Rutgers is very good opportunity because it’s local, they have great athletic facilities, and most of their teams are becoming better in the South Jersey region.”
Gartland’s track and field record goes back to his time as a student at Gloucester Catholic. He competed in cross-country as well as the 400-, 800- and 1600-meter runs and pole vault for the track and field team. In all, Gartland earned seven varsity letters, including three with cross-country, three with track and field and one in basketball.
Gartland attended the University of Notre Dame, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in American history with a minor in anthropology in 2009. After college, Gartland returned home to Gloucester Catholic, becoming an assistant coach under head coach Ian Chrzanowski in 2010. Gartland became head coach at Gloucester Catholic after Chrzanowski was hired as assistant track and field coach at Rutgers-Camden.
Gartland’s relationship with Chrzanowski will play a big part in Rutgers-Camden’s running program moving forward. Chrzanowski was promoted to head track and field coach this season. Gartland will assist him with that team in the winter and spring seasons.
“I started at Gloucester Catholic with him and I always liked working with him,” Gartland said. “I’m trying to put a full-year program together with him.”
The biggest long-term goal for Gartland is to build a full-time running program where athletes will compete in cross-country in the fall as well as track and field in the winter and spring. Achieving this goal will be a process.
“We’re hoping to bring back the runners already on the team,” Gartland said. “Just talking to them and explain my approach.”
“The goal eventually will be to produce a full-year program,” he continued. “It becomes a lifestyle instead of just one season out of the year.”
Taking the job at Rutgers-Camden wasn’t an easy decision. Gartland has spent almost a decade as a student and coach at Gloucester Catholic.
“It was very difficult to leave Gloucester Catholic,” Gartland said. “I love that place. I grew up there. My mom taught there.”
Gartland described the Gloucester Catholic community as a family where everyone knows each other and is proud to share in the common bond of having gone to school or worked there.
“It’s a school that always stays with you,” Gartland said. “I’ll be there watching basketball games in the winter time, and there isn’t a face you don’t recognize. It’s a family atmosphere that never goes away.”
Gartland said he plans to keep in touch with the Gloucester Catholic’s track and field coaching staff, continue to attend athletic events at the school and stay involved in the community.
As for now, Gartland’s focus is on the college cross-country course. He is hoping to improve a team that finished in fifth place out of seven teams at last year’s New Jersey Athletic Conference Championships.
“My goal for this upcoming season is really to put together a team that wants to be part of this program, gets along with each and spend time with each other,” Gartland said.