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Honoring those who blazed a trail
Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Honoring those who blazed a trail

When it came to developing a project to honor legendary Fredonia track and field and cross country coaches Everett (Doc) Phillips and Jim Ulrich, a group of alums who will forever “bleed blue” has struck gold.


The Phillips-Ulrich Community Trail, a 1.5-mile loop with a variety of running surfaces so it’ll appeal to distance runners, trail enthusiasts and casual walkers, will be formally dedicated during Homecoming (a detailed map of the trail is below).

Beginning in the 1970s, both coaches guided teams to stellar success during their respective careers that spanned decades.

As the men’s head cross country coach from 1971 to 1994, Phillips-led teams won eight SUNYAC championships. As an assistant men’s track and field coach, Fredonia won three New York State Collegiate Track and Field Conference championships. Phillips was also a head coach for women’s track and field and cross country.

Ulrich, as head men’s track and field coach, piloted teams (indoors and outdoors) between 1974 and 1998 that won 27 New York State Collegiate Track and Field conference championships and 35 SUNY championships.

“One thing that jumped out at us was that Doc and Jim were, first and foremost, educators,” said Neil Moore, ’80, a Phillips-Ulrich Community Trail organizer. “They enhanced the lives of countless students, not just student-athletes. They were also well-respected members of the university and local communities. We were looking for a project to honor all aspects of what they had accomplished, as educators, as coaches and as university and local leaders. The trail will be a valuable asset for students, athletes, faculty, staff and the local community.”

The informal Phillips-Ulrich Community Trail committee raised over $40,000 to develop the trail. Donations to make further improvements can be made at

Working through the Fredonia College Foundation and with support from President Virginia Horvath and current head men’s and women’s track and field and cross country coach Tom Wilson, over a dozen former Blue Devil track and field and cross country athletes and team supporters raised the initial funds for the trail, which begins and ends in the campus woodlot and encompasses parts of the former cross country course.

Environmental impact of the trail is minimal. Locally sourced wood chips form the trail’s base and also help delineate off-shoot trails that more ambitious runners can follow. Boardwalk bridges were constructed in wet areas. The Department of Biology was brought into the planning so use of the trail would not adversely impact the environment.

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