Leaving a legacy

Coach Heny retires after 30 years

Posted 6/21/22

For 30 seasons Panther track athletes have been greeted by a familiar face at the finish line: sprints coach Shelley Heny.

Following the conclusion of the 2022 season, Heny decided to retire from …

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Leaving a legacy

Coach Heny retires after 30 years

Posted

For 30 seasons Panther track athletes have been greeted by a familiar face at the finish line: sprints coach Shelley Heny.

Following the conclusion of the 2022 season, Heny decided to retire from her coaching role on the staff at PHS, leaving behind a legacy spanning three decades.

Heny started her own track career in Powell, competing as a sprinter in junior high and high school until her graduation in 1982.

After competing in college and eventually moving back to Powell to teach, Heny was offered the opportunity to take the sprinting coach job under new head coach Scott Smith, who was entering his first year.

Since 1993, Heny and Smith have been a part of nine team titles, with the boys track and field team winning seven titles and the girls winning two consecutive team titles.

“It’s been an amazing last two years for the girls team,” Heny said. “Getting back-to-back was amazing.”

Over the last two years Heny has helped coach two of the top sprinters in the state. Jenna Hillman won the 200-meter dash two years in a row and the 100-meter dash this year, while Waycee Harvey captured the 100-meter dash title last year.

Heny said Hillman told her that winning this year was more exciting than last year, as the Panthers trailed in the team standings heading into the 4x400, but then they blew away the competition in the relay and won by six points overall.

Before Harvey and Hillman, Heny helped coach Jay Cox who won the 400 in 2019. Cox primarily ran with the middle distance group but Heny helped coach him in the 4x400 along with Tracy McArthur.

Julia Kay O’Neill was a champion in 2015, walking away with the 400-meter title. Similarly to Cox, Heny helped to coach O’Neill in relays.

The year before O’Neill, KaDee Harrison won the 200-meter dash in dramatic fashion, winning the title by less than 0.05 seconds.

Going back to 2007, Justin Cross and Kenny Smith won the 100- and 200-meter dashes as part of a dominant state title victory for the Panthers.

Her first champion in the 2000s was Jordan May, who won the 200- and 400-meter dashes for the boys in 2004.

Zack Zawacki helped finish off the 1990s strong, winning the 400 meters in 1999 by nearly 1 second.

Misti Green was Heny’s first champion, winning the 100-meter dash in 1994 and the 200-meter dash in both 1994 and 1995.

In addition to individual champions, Heny helped coach 24 relay team wins in both the 4x100 and 4x400.

Over her 30 seasons with the program, Heny has seen a lot of student athletes come through Powell and has seen sprinting times go up and down over that period.

“Sprinting doesn’t change much, I learned and implemented new things over the years to help the kids get stronger,” Heny said. “Times change, kids are getting a little stronger again and times are creeping back down.”

Throughout her tenure Heny said one thing has remained constant, and that is the work ethic and the excitement of the athletes at PHS.

Heny shared the strong work ethic of the tracksters, allowing them the opportunity to continue to grow and celebrate each improvement.

“That’s what I did it for. You do it to celebrate the kids,” Heny said. “It’s amazing to watch the kids that make their mark. It’s the excitement of the younger ones or the not-so-fast ones and how excited they are when they finish the race and find out they are faster than they were last week. That gives me as much joy as Jenna [Hillman] winning the 100 and 200 at state.”

Throughout Heny’s 30 years, the Powell coaching staff has had a consistent group of coaches, as nearly every coach on the staff this past season had more than a decade of experience.

Heny said that being with that coaching staff has been like being with a family for her and she wants to thank them for making her career such a joyful experience.

She feels that the next sprints coach who comes into the program will encounter a group that has a strong work ethic that will aspire to be the best they can be.

Looking back, Heny was thankful for all the kids who came through the program and she hopes she had an impact on each and every one of them.

This is not the end for Heny’s teaching career, as she will remain in her position at PHS as a learning center teacher.

She also said this will not be her final interaction with the PHS track program. She plans to head back out to the track for next year’s home meet — helping time and greet athletes at the finish line as part of the Powell Athletic Roundtable.

“It was time, it’s a perfect ending,” Heny said. “It’s been a blessing.”

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