Porscha Dobson, an All-American hurdler during her high school days in NJ, has been named the new Director of Track and Field and Cross-Country at Dartmouth College, Harry Sheehy, Dartmouth's Director of Athletics and Recreation, announced on Tuesday.
Dobson, who starred at Kent Place High School in Summit, NJ and is a native of Roselle, fills the position opened up by the retirement of longtime coach Barry Harwick '77.
Dobson, an assistant coach at UPenn from 2012 through 2018 before being promoted to associate head coach the last two years for the Quakers, is just the third woman and first African American woman to be named director of both a men's and women's T&F program in Ivy League history. She's also one of a handful of women in the country to hold that position.
"I am honored to be named the Marjorie & Herbert Chase '30 Director of Track and Field and Cross Country at Dartmouth," Dobson said in a press release issued by Dartmouth. "Having the opportunity to continue a career in the Ivy League is very special to me. I would like to thank Harry Sheehy and Jennifer Chuks (Associate Athletics Director for Varsity Sports/Peak Performance), for believing in me and supporting my vision and passion for the student-athletes. I thank Steve Dolan for trusting my leadership at Penn, and Matt Valenti and Scott Ward for their endless support of the Penn program and of my professional career. Finally, I thank the Penn Track and Field alumni and friends for their overwhelming generosity and love for the program. I am excited for this next chapter with Dartmouth Athletics and to build upon the foundation set by Barry Harwick and his staff.''
In a press release sent out by UPenn, Steve Dolan, the Director of Track and Field at UPenn, praised Dobson for her contributions and wished her the best on her new journey.
"It has been an honor and pleasure to work with Coach Dobson over the past eight years," said Dolan. "She has made a significant contribution to the success of Penn Track and Field and has positively impacted so many student-athletes here. I am excited for Coach Dobson as she embarks on the next chapter in her career as the leader of the Dartmouth Cross Country / Track and Field programs. Above all I value our friendship, so I'm glad we will have the opportunity to stay connected as fellow coaches in the Ivy League.''
Dobson sent out a statement to the Penn Track and Field Community.
"It has been an incredible eight years,'' said Dobson. "I am so pleased with the progression of Penn Athletics and the Penn Track and Field and Cross-Country programs. It has been an honor to work with some of the best and brightest in the country in one of our sport's most historic programs. Upon arriving to Penn, the goal was to simply improve and then become one of the best in the league. Today, we find ourselves among the tops in the region and have made noise across the nation. The program is headed in the right direction with one of the best staffs in the country, there's no doubt about that. I thank Steve Dolan for bringing us together, his continuous support, and for believing in me and trusting my leadership. I appreciate and respect Joe Klim, Jeff Pflaumbaum, Matt Gosselin, Claire Hewitt and Meghan Cartafalsa for their intelligence, work ethic, competitiveness, and passion for the program and the student-athletes. I would like to thank Scott Ward and Matt Valenti for their understanding and endless support of the program and myself. To the Penn Track Family & Friends, thank you for your commitment and generosity. Penn and the city of Philadelphia are not just great places to work, they have been my home. Although I am very excited about the next journey at Dartmouth, I will truly miss Penn. We became a family. I always think of myself as an aunt to the student-athletes, so they are like nieces and nephews to me. We experienced much growth together and I taught them as much as I could.''
Dobson said there is one special memory of her time at Penn that will always stick with her.
"I will always remember my first day at Penn, when Coach Dolan walked me to the Penn Bookstore to purchase my first Penn paraphernalia,'' said Dobson. "I selected a grey sweatshirt that read, "PENN" in navy blue crushed velvet outlined in red (that I wore the next day) and Coach Dolan picked out a traditional Penn "P" baseball cap for me. We both walked back to the office all smiles, as it was Coach Dolan's first few days on campus as well. I will hold on to small memories such as that one, as well as the first years of building the program and the final years of winning.''
During her coaching career at Penn, Dobson helped to lead a resurgence of the women's sprint program. Most recently, Dobson's athletes played a major role as the Penn women won five Ivy League Heptagonal Championships team titles over a three-year span--three indoor, two outdoor--after a 22-year drought. Dobson was twice awarded Regional Assistant Coach of the Year by the United States Track and Field / Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), following the 2018 indoor and 2019 outdoor seasons.
Before her arrival at Penn, Dobson served as the head coach of women's track and field at Montclair State University from 2009-12. Under Dobson's guidance, the Red Hawks produced a national champion and an NCAA runner-up, a Regional Track Athlete of the Year, two NCAA All-Americans, and four individual national championship appearances. She was named the NJAC Outdoor Coach of the Year in 2011.
Dobson began her coaching career as a volunteer assistant under Head Coach John Moon at Seton Hall in 2008.
During her competitive days, Dobson won two NJSIAA Meet of Champions titles for Kent Place in the hurdles in 2003 (one indoors and one outdoors), ran 13.50 in the 100m hurdles, No. 4 in NJ history, was a multiple All-American, and placed second in the 60m hurdles at the National Scholastic Indoor Championships.
Collegiately, Dobson was a three-time captain and All-ACC Performer at North Carolina, helping the Tar Heels capture two conference titles. She earned a degree in communications and media studies from North Carolina in 2008.