USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame Class of 2019 Announced
NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced on Tuesday the six coaches who will be inducted into the USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2019.
Karen Boen, Dr. Jack Daniels, Rollie Geiger, Bobby Lang, Joe Piane and Dan Stimson will be enshrined in the USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame, for not only their incredible and historic accomplishments as cross country and/or track & field coaches, but also the long-lasting impact their contributions have had – and will continue to have – on the sports they coached.
QUICK LINK: USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame History
These six coaches will be honored at the 2019 USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Tuesday, December 17, at the USTFCCCA Convention in Orlando, Florida at the Grande Lakes Resort & Spa.
Started in 1995, the USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame exists to recognize coaches who have brought great distinction to themselves, to their institutions and to the sports of cross country and track & field. Each of the honorees exemplifies the qualities of dedication to the sport, leadership and passion for their profession and serves as an inspiration to coaches everywhere.
Karen Boen got a late start in the coaching profession but has sure made up for lost time thanks to her steadfast dedication to doing things the right way.
Stonehill College hired Boen in 1997 as a part-time women’s cross country coach. Boen, then 40, was working in the cardiology department at Morton Hospital in Taunton, Massachusetts.
At the time, Stonehill strongly considered reclassifying its cross country and track & field programs to club status by the start of the next fall, a move that Boen knew about going into the agreement (Boen would serve as a coach in a transitional role). But after a discussion with then-athletic director Paula Sullivan, those plans soon changed: The Skyhawks remained among the NCAA Division II ranks, and Boen embarked on a full-time Hall of Fame career.
It didn’t take long for Stonehill to establish itself as a perennial power in both the Northeast-10 Conference and the East Region. Nor did it take much longer than that for Boen to earn – and accept – new responsibilities as the head coach of the women’s track & field program and both the men’s cross country and track & field programs in 1999 and 2000, respectively.
The Skyhawks got their first taste of future success in 1999 when their women’s cross country team finished runner-up in the NE-10. That was a far cry from the year before when Stonehill took seventh and even further from the previous season when it only had seven athletes on its roster (Boen recently joked that she probably could have been the No. 1 runner on that team).
Well, once Boen led the Skyhawk women to their first conference title in program history the following year, the floodgates opened, and the rest – as they say – is history.
From 2000 to 2018, Stonehill won 37 conference titles under Boen’s watch. The Skyhawk women did most of the heavy lifting with 28 of those titles (17 in cross country alone), while the men combined for nine in that same time frame (eight in cross country).
Stonehill made its name on the cross country course thanks to Boen’s tutelage. The Skyhawks captured 13 regional titles (11 of those belong to the women) and put together quite the streak of NCAA appearances. Stonehill’s women have competed at the NCAA DII Championships for 18 consecutive years, while the men have reached the final site 16 times in a row.
Boen also has earned a staggering number of East Region Coach of the Year honors. She has been honored 27 times by the USTFCCCA, including 14 of the past 19 times for women’s cross country and 10 trophies in the past six years for women’s indoor and outdoor track & field.
A number of All-Americans have been coached by Boen in cross country and track & field, including Corey Thomas, who won the individual title in the high jump at the 2011 NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field Championships.
Just this past May, Boen announced that she would be stepping down as head coach of the Stonehill track & field programs, but remaining on staff as an assistant. Boen is still in charge of the Skyhawks’ cross country programs.
Many of Boen’s former student-athletes are now coaches, too, proving that her influence will be felt for years to come.
Coaches like Dr. Jack Daniels only come around once in a generation.
From his unparalleled success as the head coach at SUNY Cortland to his groundbreaking training advancements to being named the “World’s Best Coach” by Runner’s World magazine, Daniels continues to leave an indelible impact on the sports of cross country and track & field.
Daniels began coaching at Oklahoma City University in 1961 after wrapping up an incredibly successful athletic career that included Olympic medals in the modern pentathlon at the 1956 and 1960 Summer Olympics. It was at the end of his stint with the Stars that Daniels earned his Master of Education in Physical Education and Exercise Physiology from the University of Oklahoma in 1965.
The two-time Olympic medalist had a thirst for more knowledge as he pursued his doctorate in Physical Education and Exercise Physiology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, following a short stint as the Peruvian national track & field coach from 1965 to 1966. He added the letters Ph.D. to the end of his name in 1969, four years after completing his master’s.
Daniels forged ahead to the Lone Star State as head coach of the women’s track & field team at the University of Texas from 1969 to 1980 and then to the Granite State as the assistant men’s track & field coach at the University of New Hampshire from 1980 to 1982.
He eventually found his way to Cortland, New York, in 1986. It was in the “Crown City” where Daniels built a dynasty over the next 17 years as the head coach of the men’s and women’s cross country and track & field programs at SUNY Cortland.
From 1986 to 2004, the Red Dragons won eight national titles, finished national runner-up four other times, and amassed 31 individual national titles and more than 120 All-America honors.
No program at SUNY Cortland had more success under Daniels’ direction than the women’s cross country team. There is a reason why Daniels was named the NCAA Division III Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Century in 2000.
Daniels led the Red Dragon women to seven national titles on the grass circuit – which is still the most of any NCAA DIII women’s program – including four in a row from 1992 to 1995. It was that 1992 team that set the current divisional record for the lowest total score at a championship meet with 18 points. And from 1987 to 1999, SUNY Cortland never finished outside the top-10 at NCAAs.
Following his record-setting stint with the Red Dragons, Daniels proceeded to Flagstaff, Arizona, where he was the head distance coach at the Center for High Altitude Training on the campus of Northern Arizona University from 2005 to 2009. During his time in Flagstaff, Daniels penned his book “Daniels’ Running Formula,” which detailed his legendary VDOT formula.
Daniels is currently the head cross country coach at Wells College, a position he has held since being hired on March 21, 2013.
In 1979, NC State took a chance on a young upstart named Rollie Geiger.
At the time, Geiger didn’t have any coaching experience at the collegiate level but had directed a very successful prep program at Bayshore High School in Bradenton, Florida. He led the Bruins to numerous top-5 finishes at the state level in cross country and track & field and helped Betty Jo Springs and Jeff Warrick become two of the greatest prep runners in state history.
That was enough for the Wolfpack to hire Geiger – a 1971 graduate of Kent State and a three-time letterman with its cross country and track & field programs – as the top assistant for its blossoming men’s and women’s distance programs.
It’s safe to say that NC State made the right decision – because over the past 39 years, the Wolfpack has been a perennial contender on both the conference and national stage.
Success and Geiger went hand-in-hand from the beginning at NC State. Within the first two years of being on campus in Raleigh, North Carolina, he helped the women’s cross country team win back-to-back conference (ACC) and national (AIAW) titles in 1979 and 1980.
A promotion quickly followed as Geiger was named the head coach of the men’s and women’s cross country programs in 1981. And it’s with those programs that Geiger created a juggernaut.
In 37 seasons as the head coach of the men’s program and 26 seasons as head coach of the women’s program from 1981 to 2006, Geiger has led NC State’s harriers to a combination of 32 conference titles, 10 regional titles, 55 All-America selections, and 21 top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships. His women starred on the national stage as they captured three of the first five individual titles in meet history (Betty Jo Springs in 1981 and 1983, Suzie Tuffey in 1985) and made more team appearances at the championships than any other women’s program in meet history.
The Wolfpack women came within two points of giving Geiger what could have been his first national title as a head coach at the 1987 NCAA DI Cross Country Championships. Oregon edged NC State by a score of 97-99 despite the Wolfpack putting three runners in the top-10 of the individual race (Tuffey, Janet Smith and Renee Harbaugh were 1-4-5 in team scoring).
In 2016, the USTFCCCA announced that the NCAA Division I Southeast Region Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year honor would be renamed the “Rollie Geiger Award” for his incredible achievements.
Geiger’s coaching prowess, however, isn’t limited to the grass circuit.
NC State gave Geiger the reins of its combined track & field program in 1984, three years after he took over the same role with the cross country program. Under Geiger’s direction, eight ACC team championships have returned home to Raleigh, while 87 different athletes combined to earn a total of 172 All-America honors and win four NCAA titles. Geiger is still currently the head coach of the men’s track & field program, while Laurie Henes took over control of the women’s program in 2019.
On the domestic and international level, Geiger has made the rounds. He coached at the 1987 Olympic Festival when it was held in Raleigh and later that year, was named coach of the U.S. National Team for the World Cross Country Championships in Auckland, New Zealand. He has been a featured speaker at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and was a member of the U.S. Olympic Development Committee for distance running.
When legendary coach Bobby Lang stepped onto Florida A&M’s campus in 1953, he probably didn’t think that would be the place where he’d spend more than three decades of his life.
But, that is exactly what happened, as the then student-athlete would earn his degree from the university while on a football and track & field scholarship and then return to the institution after a successful nine-year stint as a prep school teacher and coach.
Lang got back on campus in 1966 as an assistant coach with the football team and inherited the reigns of the Rattlers’ track & field program.
It didn’t take Lang much longer to teach Florida A&M how to strike on the cross country course, as well as on the track and in the field.
From 1966 to 1999, when he eventually retired following an illustrious career, Lang’s teams combined to win 38 conference championships between the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) and the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC).
Most of that success came as a member of the MEAC, which FAMU joined in 1979 and since then has spent all but two years as a member. The Rattlers struck for 29 conference titles with Lang leading the charge, with 16 going to the women’s programs and 13 headed the men’s way.
Lang became the first coach in MEAC history to complete the vaunted triple crown, earning conference titles in cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field.
Along with coaching cross country and track & field, Lang also headed FAMU’s National Youth Sports Program, a government-funded summer athletics program, and served as an assistant coach on the football team, most notably in 1978 when the Rattlers won the inaugural I-AA (now FCS) national championship.
Lang retired from the university in July of 1999, but the school continued to serve an important role in his family’s life. It is where he met his wife and the institution from which each of his three children received degrees.
“Rattlers for Life” isn’t just a moto for Lang.
He lived it.
It’s not often that an American begins his Hall of Fame coaching career overseas, but that’s exactly what Joe Piane did.
Piane started coaching cross country and track & field in 1970 as a member of the Peace Corps after graduating from Loras College, where he was a captain of the Duhawks’ undefeated cross country team as a senior. Here’s the thing: Piane was based in Morocco, not the United States.
After a short stint overseas, Piane returned stateside and enrolled at Western Illinois University. It was there that he continued his education – and profession – as he assisted the cross country and track & field programs while earning his master’s degree in physical education.
It didn’t take long for Piane to find his way to South Bend, Indiana, where in 1974 he was hired by Notre Dame as an assistant coach for the track & field program. From that day forward, Piane laid the groundwork for a dynasty unlike any other the Irish had ever seen.
Piane spent one year as an assistant coach before legendary coach Alex Wilson retired, and Notre Dame handed the reins of the program to his protegé. Irish eyes were smiling on Piane as he won… and won… and won… and eventually became the second-longest tenured athletic coach in school history (Jack Kline coached the baseball team for 42 years).
From 1975 until his retirement in 2014, Piane’s men and women dominated the conference ranks and were a fixture on the national stage.
Want an idea of that success at the conference level? Try 54 league titles split between the Midwestern City Conference (Horizon League) and the Big East Conference. Piane’s cross country teams and indoor track & field teams combined for 28 titles in the former conference, while he won 26 BIG EAST crowns spread between each of the six sports he coached.
Athletes coached by Piane totaled 166 BIG EAST individual or relay titles between cross country and track & field, while 12 Irish athletes were named the Most Outstanding Performer of its indoor and outdoor championship meets.
Piane’s programs also left their mark on the national level with 189 All-America honors over the years: 97 in men’s track & field, 66 in women’s track & field, and 46 in cross country. All of those All-Americans in cross country added up to 14 combined top-10 team finishes – highlighted by a third-place finishes by his women and men in 2002 and 2005, respectively – and two National Coach of the Year honors in 1987 and 2001.
In addition to his collegiate coaching career, Piane assisted U.S. national track efforts via a variety of assignments — working with the USA Track & Field staff, guiding numerous U.S. squads in international competitions (including a U.S. Pan American juniors team), serving as Midwest regional chairman for U.S. Olympic Development in track and field, and coaching in the National Sports Festival.
It’s not often that the first coach at a program turns out to be the best, but that might just end up being the case with the late Dan Stimson at William & Mary.
Stimson started his career as the throws coach at the University of Tennessee in 1971-72. Under Stimson’s tutelage, Bill Skinner was ranked third in the world in the javelin, while Danny Martin added 13 feet to his best heave in the javelin over the span of a year.
Miami (Ohio) rang next, and Stimson answered the call to return to the institution from where he earned his master’s degree. Over the next nine years, Stimson continued to help javelin throwers have remarkable success. Rich Elkins, who would eventually become Stimson’s first NCAA qualifier, joined the Redhawks as a freshman with a personal best in the javelin of 195 feet, improving to a distance of 249 feet by the time he was a senior.
Stimson then came back to Rocky Top as an assistant coach, before making his way to Williamsburg, Virginia, in the summer of 1986 as the Tribe’s first Director of Track & Field.
Over the next 25 years, William & Mary thrived with Stimson in charge.
The Tribe were unmatched in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) under Stimson’s direction. William & Mary won a staggering 49 CAA team titles, including 35 alone in cross country – 18 by the men, who won 11 in a row between 2000 and 2010, and 17 by the women, who won seven in a row between 2003 and 2009. During the 2003-04 academic year, Stimson became the first coach in CAA history to win both cross country titles and outdoor track & field titles in the same academic year.
On the national stage, his program compiled 64 All-America honors between cross country and track & field.
William & Mary also stood out in the classroom, just as it did in competition, taking home 47 combined All-Academic Team awards from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
Stimson not only coached athletes, he also mentored coaches. In fact, the branches from the Stimson coaching tree have spread far and wide over the years. His protegés include current Michigan State Director of Cross Country and Track & Field Walt Drenth, current George Mason Director of Track & Field Andrew Gerard, as well as Alex Gibby and Kathy Newberry, both on staff at Harvard University, among others.
Even after his time as director was done, Stimson continued to dedicate himself to the Tribe as he spent an additional three years as the assistant coach for throwing events and another three after that as a volunteer assistant with the program.
Stimson passed away in 2017 and is survived by Rosemary, his wife of 46 years, two children Clare and Krista, and two grandchildren Samuel and Kara.