Story by Linley Sanders
Photo courtesy of Drake Athletics
The Drake Relays are nothing new for Casey McDermott. The 2011 Drake alumna and standout runner competed in the Relays all four years of her college career. She still holds the Drake all-time record for steeplechase and continues to run competitively.
But as the Drake Relays open, McDermott won’t be running. Instead, she has returned to Drake as an assistant coach for the cross country and track and field teams.
“I’m gaining a new perspective by being a coach compared to an athlete,” McDermott said. “It’s been fun for me to see the coaching side of things at Drake. … I’m very excited (for Relays). Relays is always a great time of year, and it’s great when we have Drake athletes who are able to compete.”
Head cross country coach Dan Hostager recruited McDermott out of Newton High School in Newton, Iowa, and coached her all four years of college.
It’s rare to have freshmen as your team leaders, Hostager said, but McDermott emerged as a leader and ran varsity all four years as a Bulldog. Now, Hostager coaches alongside his former athlete. McDermott said she feels fortunate to continue learning from Hostager.
“One of the many lessons I learned from Coach Hos(tager) was to remain patient and trust in the training,” McDermott said. “Like many other aspects of life, running and competing are full of highs and lows. He helped me learn how to continue moving forward and building on each high and low.”
Last year, McDermott coached at Troy University in Troy, Ala., but chose to return to Drake to pursue her master’s degree in school counseling. McDermott has brought her perspective as a former competitor to help Drake athletes — something Hostager said has already helped his squad and the track and field squad.
“She knows what it takes to be successful at Drake and the challenges student-athletes face,” Hostager said. “She’s still competing competitively and running personal bests. She wants to run the U.S. championships this year. She’s very goal-oriented, and that helps our kids because she can actually do some of the runs with them.”
Sophomore Stephanie Parks said McDermott is a great addition to the team, and by continuing to compete, McDermott is able to provide student-athletes with valuable advice about workouts and races.
“She pushes us in our workouts to get better and improve overselves,” Parks said. “She is also very encouraging and is a good role model because she did so well when she was here.”
McDermott said she has learned a lot from coaching, both at Drake and Troy. As for the future, McDermott said she plans to remain at Drake until she earns her master’s degree. From there, she will look into what positions are available at Drake or other places.
“I really enjoy helping others accomplish their goals, and it’s a lot of fun to work with athletes who are very competitive and have high aspirations,” McDermott said. “Talking through the process of what it takes to accomplish the athlete’s goals. I really enjoy that.”