CEDAR CITY — When the last runner crosses the finish line at the state cross-country championships Wednesday afternoon, it will mark the end of an era for longtime Cedar High School girls cross-country coach Robert Corry, who is retiring after 35 years.
Affectionately known as “Dr. Coach” to the many hundreds of athletes he has trained, Corry said he started helping the CHS cross-country and track teams when his oldest daughter began running in high school.
It wasn’t long before he became the head coach, launching a career that includes nine cross-country state titles, including eight in a row between 1993 and 2000. He also led the Cedar girls track team to four straight state titles between 1998 and 2001. In addition to the 13 state titles, his teams have also filled the school’s trophy case with 22 region championships.
Another notable number is the estimated 19,000 gallons of sports drinks he and his wife Barbara have mixed up for his runners over the years.
Corry said he’s enjoyed keeping in touch with his many former athletes. Some even became members of his own family.
“Three of the girls that I coached married my sons,” he said, noting that one of his granddaughters, Cedar High senior MaKell Corry, is scheduled to run for the Cedar Reds in Wednesday’s 4A race.
“I’ve coached my own daughters, and now I’ve coached my granddaughters and daughters of kids that I’ve coached,” he said.
This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state cross-country championships have been moved from their usual venue at Salt Lake City’s Sugarhouse Park. The 4A, 2A, and 1A state races are being staged Wednesday at Cedar High School, while the 3A, 5A, and 6A races are on Thursday at Soldier Hollow, near Midway.
“I’ve been to every state meet since 1985, and it’s always been at Sugarhouse Park,” said Corry, who noted that it’s a happy coincidence that his coaching career will end at the very spot where it all began, right at his own alma mater Cedar High.
Corry spent Tuesday morning mowing the grass along the 3-mile course and helping prepare it for the state meet, taking time to speak to Cedar City News and reflect on his coaching career.
The longtime physician said putting away his coach’s stopwatch and clipboard is even harder than hanging up his stethoscope.
“Retiring from medicine wasn’t nearly as hard as retiring from cross country,” he said.
“For several years, I’ve known that the end was going to come sometime,” he added. “It’s hard. It’s really hard. The thing I’ll miss the very most is working with the kids. All the coaches say that, whenever a coach retires, he says, you know, that’s the hardest thing. But it was time.”
After his last race as coach on Wednesday, Corry says he plans to continue helping out and supporting the Reds.
“I won’t be as heavily involved as I have been for the last 35 years, but I won’t miss very many meets, I’m sure,” he said. “I’ll still be around. I’m still going to be a fan. I’ll cheer the kids on and everything else. I won’t give that up, for sure. I’ll do it for as long as I live.”
UHSAA cross-country state championships
Wednesday’s schedule, Cedar High School
- 2A girls: 1 p.m.
- 2A boys: 1:30 p.m.
- 1A girls 3 p.m.
- 1A boys 3:30 p.m.
- 4A girls: 5 p.m.
- 4A boys: 5:30 p.m.
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