Patty Ley (pronounced Lay), a native Washingtonian and no stranger to Pacific Northwest cross country and track and field, was named the first fulltime assistant cross country/track and field coach for Gonzaga University in March, 2011.
Ley joins the Bulldogs from Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va., where she was hired in January, 2010, to coach the distance runners for the track and field team in the spring of 2010, and also be the head cross country coach in the fall of 2010.
"Patty is one of the most knowledgeable coaches I have been around and is one of the best coaches in America," Gonzaga head coach Pat Tyson said. "She knows the area which will be a boon for recruiting and she understands how things work at the collegiate level, having been there as a participant and as a coach. It is unbelievable that we could get a coach who understands kids and our sport at the highest end. She is one of the most respected coaches in the Pacific Northwest and will help elevate our track and field, and cross country programs. I'm more excited than I have ever been about the future of the Bulldogs program."
Ley is also looking forward to returning to the Pacific Northwest.
"I am extremely excited to join Coach Tyson and the Gonzaga family. We have discussed the possibility of coaching together for several years and to be able to work with Pat is an honor and a great opportunity to learn from the best. The chance to return to the Northwest and to work at a Catholic university is a blessing," Ley said.
Recognized as one of the top developmental distance coaches in the country, she represented the United States as the head coach for the Team USA Junior Women's Team at the World Cross Country Championships in March, 2010.
In her first season with the Captains the team won six USA South Athletic Conference titles in track and field and Elizabeth Bissell was named Outstanding Track Athlete at the outdoor championships for her 5k/10k sweep. Indoors, they earned nine CNU All-Time Rankings plus the school record in the women's Distance Medley Relay. She also coached indoor 800m record holders Dira Hansen and Matthew Winkler. Outdoors, they added 14 more all-time rankings plus school records in the women's 4x800m relay and men's 3,000m steeplechase.
In 2010, the men placed first and the women second in the USA South Athletic Conference cross country championship, and the women placed third and the men eighth at the NCAA Division III South/Southeast Regional.
Ley is a graduate of Gig Harbor, Wash., High. She held Washington State Class AA meet records in the 1600m (4:57.1) and cross country (3mi - 17:13.9) and was a 7-time State Class AA Champion from the 4x400m to cross country. She competed in nine State Championships in cross country, basketball, and track and field.
Ley was named to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer All-Century Cross Country Team in 2000. She was inducted in to the Pierce County Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010. Overcoming injuries during her collegiate career, she lettered at the University of Oregon, Washington State University, and Pacific Lutheran University, graduating in 1993 from the latter, where she still holds school records in the 800m, 1500m and 3,000m. Her 1500m record of 4:15.61 qualified her for the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1992. In 1994, she ranked 19th in the U.S. in the 3,000m training with her former high school coach Joel Wingard working as an assistant coach at Gig Harbor High.
As an assistant at Gig Harbor, the 1992, the boys' cross country team was State Class AA runner-up and the girls placed second at the 1993 State Class AA Track and Field Championships. The next year the girls won both State cross country and track and field titles while the boys were runner-up both. In 1994-95 the boys were twice runners-up again while the girls added a second place cross country trophy and another track and field championship. The boys swept State Class AA title in 1995-96 in both cross country and track and field, while the girls added another track and field second-place trophy.
Upon Coach Wingard's retirement in 1999, Ley took over both programs before handing off the track and field duties in 2003-04. The next year started the most successful run in school history. In 2004 the girls' cross country team, without any seniors, lost the State Class AA Championship on a tie-breaker. They won the next three championships and the boys' team placed second in 2007. The 2005 girls' team placed 7th at Nike Team Nationals. They added another runner-up finish at State in 2008 and the distance squads were crucial to the boys' State track and field titles in 2005 and 2007, with a second-place finish sandwiched between. The girls' track and field team also won the 2007 State title.
She was named Washington State Cross Country Girls' Coach of the Year in 2006, as well as being National Federation of High Schools' Northwest Regional Girls' Coach of the Year, one of eight finalists for the NFHS National Coach of the Year award, and received the same honor for the 2007 cross country season.
With young squads again in the fall of 2009, her girls placed fourth at the State cross country meet and her top boys' runner placed second, covering the 5k course in 15:22.
Ley has two children, a daughter Meaghan 23 and a son Brendon 21.
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