Changes come and go, but for the Drake track and field team, to be left without a head coach for the start of the fall season was an unexpected change.
It was announced on Aug. 4 that now former head coach Natasha Brown would be taking a coaching position at the University of Missouri and her husband, Associate Athletic Director and Drake Relays Director Brian Brown, would be taking an Athletic Director position there as well.
However, the team is not stranded when it comes to preseason training. Assistant coaches LaRon Bennett, who coaches hurdles, and Dan Hostager, who coaches distance, are fulfilling the duties as temporary coaches to help ease the transition.
“Change is difficult on any level and transitions are hard to adjust to,” Bennett said. “Life doesn’t bring a consistent map and these are the moments that help make this is a good practice run for what it will be like in life after college.”
Athletes agree that even though it is sad to see the Browns leave the program, they are excited to see who will join the program and what changes and ideas he or she will bring to the table.
“We want what is best for the program as a whole,” said senior Reed Fischer, “We want a coach who makes promises and will stick to them. We want a coach who desires what is best for the whole program.”
The team’s main goal during this transition is to keep working hard, to come together as a team so that they can be more motivated during the season and stay united even when the change in coaching leadership happens.
“We are trying to be more motivated on a team front and united, which is a good thing to come in to as a new coach. When we have a new coach, we will already have that support and stability within ourselves,” said junior Rai Ahmed-Green.
The freshmen are starting the year with all of this change happening, but they have been able to look to the upperclassmen for encouragement and support.
“The seniors have taken a leadership role on the team,” said freshman Malik Metivier. “This situation is going to bring us closer together as a team. It is bittersweet that Coach Brown left and it will be a challenge, but it will bring the team together. We are trusting the process and going with the flow.”
Though there is no news on any specific candidates to fulfill the head coach and the Drake Relays director positions, the prospects are narrowing down. The team and coaching staff have had the opportunity to voice their opinions on what qualities they want in a head coach.
“We want a coach who wants the same goals as us and a coach who wants to make Drake a school worth noting as a renowned program in the future,” Fischer said. “I would like to have someone with a tie to Drake in some shape or form because the Drake community is so important here. Athletes and students hear our Athletic Director Sandy talk about how we want people to know what it means to be a Bulldog and that’s what we want, too.”
The coaching change should not affect how the track and field athletes train and compete. By the end of all this change, it may even strengthen the team both mentally and physically.
“We will be fine, and we will most likely surprise ourselves when it comes to our first indoor meet,” Bennett said, “The team is in a good spot at exceeding expectations. We will galvanize as a family, train hard and then go out and show the competition that we are still able to do our job.”