Hall of fame coach recalls achievements
Natasha Kaiser-Brown, Drake University’s head track and field coach, was enshrined in the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame on Jan. 31 in Springfield, Missouri.
“She’s been at that top tier. She knows what it takes to get there,” junior distance runner Reed Fischer said. “She has the experience to impart on us about it. It’s cool to see her get deserving recognition.”
Kaiser-Brown was a track star while attending the University of Missouri before becoming a two-time Olympian. Her newest honor gave her the opportunity to look back at her accomplishments and honors.
“I had forgotten all the stuff I did,” Kaiser-Brown said. “When you think back, you don’t remember the records you set in high school.”
Even if Kaiser-Brown may not always recall her accomplishments, others do. And sometimes the things that people notice aren’t just record breaking times and trophies on a shelf.
“I really look up toCoach Brown, what she has accomplished when she was younger,” junior Bas Van Leersum said. “But what I really admire, (unlike) the past coaches I had, they showed they had favorites. She doesn’t really show that. The people that are performing not as good as others, she gives the same attention to everyone. That’s something I really appreciate.”
Kaiser-Brown, a Des Moines native, started her running career back in middle school. And from then on her greatest support has come from her parents.
“Both my parents were amazing,” Kaiser-Brown said. “Those two together were the perfect blend of parents. The world was completely open.”
She later attended Roosevelt High School and was a nine-time Iowa state high school champion. While at Roosevelt, she collected several medals at the Drake Relays in the high school competitions.
Continuing her career at Mizzou, she was an All-American six times, Big Eight Conference champion five times and was the Big Eight Female Athlete of the Year in 1989. She maintains five individual Mizzou records and was a part of eight record-setting relay teams.
“I had an amazing coach for three years when I arrived at Missouri,” Kaiser-Brown said. “(Dr. Rick McGuire) coached the person, not the sport. The experiences are all intertwined. Any successes you had you celebrated with the guy who trained you.”
After Mizzou, Kaiser-Brown was a member of 16 national teams for the United States. Most notably, she reached the semifinals in the 400-meter and ran on the U.S. silver medal 4×400-meter relay at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
She was also a part of the 1996 U.S. Olympic team and has four World Championship medals, including a gold medal for the 4×400 relay in 1993.
Kaiser-Brown’s competitive career ended at the 2000 Drake Relays, which she competed in just months after giving birth to her first daughter.
“It’s cool to see your career start at Drake Relays and end at Drake Relays,” Kaiser-Brown said.
In 2000, Kaiser-Brown found herself at a crossroads in her career after serving as Mizzou’s assistant track coach for seven years. At the same time, Drake was in need of a new track and field coach after the sudden passing of its previous coach, Gary Irvin Osborn.
“Kind of seeing it with fresh eyes, (Des Moines) actually looked like a pretty good place,” Kaiser-Brown said.
Now in her 15th season with the Bulldogs, Kaiser-Brown has seen several generations of track athletes come and go.
“It’s like a never-ending family,” Kaiser-Brown said. “You always are introducing a new generation into the fray.”
Kaiser-Brown aspires to see her team rise to the top three in the Missouri Valley Conference at some point during her time as coach. The next major conference competition is coming up this weekend in Cedar Falls, Iowa, at the MVC Indoor Track and Field Championship.
“(Coach Kaiser-Brown) does a really good job of making us know that if we put in the hard work and dedication,” Fischer said. “She does a good job of making sure we’re all staying hungry and staying motivated.
She would also like to see several individual athletes go to the NCAA Championship.
“What we’re trying to do is add more talented bodies to the field,” Kaiser-Brown said. “We have the talent now; it’s just a matter of the team firing on all the same cylinders on the same two days.”