USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame Class of 2021 Announced
NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) is privileged to announce the seven coaches who will be inducted into the USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2021!
Peter Farrell, Thomas “T.E.” Jones, Don Larson, Dr. Nancy Meyer, John Moon, Dennis Shaver and John Weaver will all be enshrined in the USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame, for not only their historic and incredible 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 seven coaches will be honored at the 2021 USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Wednesday, December 15, at the USTFCCCA Convention in Orlando, Florida. This is the largest group to be inducted in the past 13 years, as the Class of 2008 was also seven members.
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.
Keep reading to learn more about the Class of 2021.
“What does a kid with a history degree do for a living?”
That’s what a young Peter Farrell mused to his roommate at Notre Dame.
The answer, at least in Farrell’s case, led him on a near 50-year journey that will culminate with his induction into the USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2021.
After a stellar athletic career for the Irish, where he was a two-time All-American in the 880 yards – placing as high as sixth in 1966 – and a five-time letterwinner on its cross country and track & field teams, Farrell turned his attention to helping others, specifically young women, achieve their athletic goals in those same sports.
Farrell initially used his degree to teach American history at Christ the King High School in Middle Village, New York, for nine years from 1968 to 1977. He eventually added “coach” to his resume five years into his career when he established the Royals’ girls cross country and track & field program. It didn’t take long for Farrell to show his coaching acumen, as Christ the King won several championships, including the AAU Eastern Regional cross country title.
The collegiate ranks called again, beckoning Farrell to Princeton on September 1, 1977.
Farrell took over the women’s club running program, which finally gained intercollegiate status the next year. His first order of business was to purchase uniforms – bought from the school store, actually – followed closely by hitting the recruiting trail. His first recruit was Lynn Jennings, who would eventually become the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in a distance event on the track, among other feats. It’s that attention to detail that lifted the Tigers to great heights over the next 39 years until his retirement following the 2016 outdoor track & field season.
Princeton got off to a hot start with Farrell at the helm, winning 11 Ivy League titles in his first six years on campus. That included a Triple Crown during the 1980-81 academic year, where the Tigers captured Heps titles in cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field Princeton replicated the feat exactly 30 years later, starting with the 2010 cross country title.
After an extended lull, where the rest of the Ivy League appeared to catch up to Princeton’s women, the Tigers came roaring back in the last 10 years of Farrell’s career. Princeton won 11 team titles between 2006 and 2016, with 10 coming in the first five years of that span.
The Tigers were especially strong in cross country, where they reeled off five Heps titles in a row from the mid-to-late 2000s. No team came together better than the 2009 edition, as they became the first – and still, only – squad in Ivy League history to sweep the conference meet. Princeton came awfully close the previous year with a 1-2-3-5-6 finish for 17 points.
With one individual national champion in track & field (Julia Ratcliffe, 2014 hammer), 55 total All-Americans, four Mid-Atlantic Region cross country titles and two top-5 finishes at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, you can’t overlook what Farrell’s Tigers accomplished on the regional and national stage under his direction, either.
Farrell is the fourth Princeton coach to be inducted into the USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame, joining Larry Ellis (2009), Keene Fitzpatrick (2011) and Fred Samara (2017).
He and his wife Shane have two daughters, Susan and Virginia, both of whom graduated from Princeton.
Thomas “T. E.” Jones was a visionary.
He, along with Amos Alonzo Stagg and John L. Griffith helped organize the first NCAA championship in any sport, the 1921 National Collegiate Track & Field Championships.
At the time, Jones was the athletic director and head cross country and track & field coach at the University of Wisconsin, positions he held for 35 years until his retirement at age 70. Before that, Jones spent three years at the University of Missouri, where he was so beloved that there was a petition passed around by athletes at the institution to get him to stay when news of the Badgers’ offer spread around campus.
Jones began his coaching career at Madison High School in Wisconsin after finishing his four-year degree at Iowa Teachers’ College (now the University of Northern Iowa) and taking “special work” in physical training at Harvard University. He didn’t stay in Madison long the first time as the Tigers’ roar beckoned him to Columbia in 1910.
From 1910 to 1912, Jones led Missouri to a number of accomplishments. His teams won three Missouri Valley Conference titles in track & field, captured the Western Conference title in 1911 and also finished runner-up at the meet in his final year on campus. One of his athletes, John Nicholson, competed at the 1912 Olympic Games in the final of the 110 Meter Hurdles.
“Honest Tom,” as he was affectionately known, returned to Madison to much fanfare in 1913 and developed UW into a powerhouse in cross country and track & field over the next 35 years.
The Badgers were particularly strong in cross country under Jones, winning 14 conference titles and posting a 70-18 record in dual meets. That doesn’t even include a pair top-3 finishes at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, which was still in its infancy at the time. UW actually took runner-up honors at the second-ever installment of the meet in 1939 thanks to an individual title from Walter Mehl, who finished second the previous year.
Success carried over into track & field, where the Badgers amassed numerous team titles, 137 total individual titles between the indoor and outdoor seasons (five at the NCAA Outdoor Championships), a 123-47 record in dual meets and an undefeated record in indoor triangular competition with Jones at the helm. Jones also coached Arlie Mucks, a 1912 Olympian in the discus, to the indoor shot put world record in 1916.
After his retirement in 1948, Jones was named to the Team USA coaching staff for the 1948 Olympic Games in London. Team USA captured 11 gold medals, five silver medals and nine bronze medals in Athletics that year.
Jones died on April 30, 1969, at the age of 91.
North Dakota State and South Dakota State might be athletic rivals, but both institutions shaped Don Larson into who he is today — and that is a member of the USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame Class of 2021.
Larson started his collegiate foray as an athlete at South Dakota State. Over a five-year period with the Jackrabbits, Larson earned All-America honors in the 400-meter hurdles twice (1972, 1975) and won seven total conference titles in various events like the 440 yards, 600 yards, the 400-meter hurdles, and the relays.
After graduating from SDSU in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and then earning a master’s degree in the same area of expertise from Minnesota State-Moorhead, Larson began his coaching career at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota.
Just a few years later in 1979, Larson returned to the Dakotas – but this time, it wouldn’t be back to Brookings. Instead, Larson took the head coaching job 180 miles away at SDSU’s rival institution: North Dakota State. And it is in Fargo, where Larson spent the next 41 years molding the Bison into a perennial force until his well-deserved retirement following the 2019-20 academic year.
NDSU’s success didn’t just span decades under Larson. It transcended divisions.
For the first 25 years of Larson’s tenure, the Bison left their mark as NCAA Division II members in the North Central Conference. NDSU won 36 conference titles as a team between 1979 and 2004, including 35 in track & field alone. That one cross country title came in 1982 and it was the first link in a chain that resulted in capturing the vaunted Triple Crown.
Triumphs at the national level were just as commonplace for the Bison. Curt Bacon gave Larson his first individual champ in 1980 when he won the steeplechase crown and before all was said and done, his athletes added 10 more to that total at the NCAA DII level. Larson’s athletes also dotted the podium during those years, too, compiling 206 All-America honors with 193 of those coming in track & field alone. NDSU’s best finishes, as a team, were third outdoors in 2004 and fourth indoors in 1989.
Success continued after the Bison made the full transition to the Summit League in NCAA DI.
NDSU won 18 more conference titles between 2007 and 2020, including the 2020 indoor crown to send Larson out as a winner. The Bison dominated the proceedings, too, sweeping the top-4 spots in the 800, the top-6 spots in the shot put and the top-3 spots in the weight throw as Larson was named the conference’s Coach of the Year for the 17th time.
Payton Otterdahl gave NDSU its first individual champion at the NCAA DI level in any sport in 2019 when he won the shot put at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Otterdahl also set the collegiate indoor record in the event earlier that year. He wasn’t done, though, as he’d double back to win the weight throw the very next day. Otterdahl was just the second man in NCAA DI history to accomplish that feat in meet history.
It’s safe to say Larson made coaching the Bison a family affair; his wife Desire’e was an assistant coach for 20 years in charge of the program’s high jumpers and coached those athletes to 12 All-America efforts. Don and Desire’e have two children, Kelsey and Kira.
Dr. Nancy Meyer has long dedicated her life to the student-athlete experience.
Whether it be leading Calvin University’s women’s cross country program to national prominence, spending the past 24 years as an administrator in the Knights’ athletic department or coaching a number of other sports while teaching in the Calvin kinesiology department, Meyer always saw tremendous value in helping to mold the future leaders of tomorrow.
Meyer wasted no time in getting to work after graduating from Calvin University in 1978. The very next year, she began teaching at her alma mater in addition to taking on the roles of head coach for the swimming & diving and tennis programs. That would last until 1983.
After receiving her master’s degree from the University of Arizona in 1984 and her doctorate from the University of Northern Colorado in 1986, Meyer returned to Calvin as a Knight in Shining Armor, taking over the reins of its women’s cross country program that same year.
It didn’t take long for Meyer to turn the Knights into a juggernaut at the conference level, as she already had championship-building experience from her first stint at Calvin, leading the women’s tennis team to back-to-back MIAA titles in 1981 and 1982. But the mark of a Hall of Fame coach is being able to turn that conference success into regional and national triumphs, something the women’s cross country team had in spades under Meyer.
From 1988 to 2003, Calvin was unmatched in the MIAA and the Great Lakes Region. During that span, the Knights won 16 consecutive conference titles and won all but one regional crown.
Calvin qualified for the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships for the first time in 1989 and three years later, got its first taste of the podium with a runner-up finish to SUNY Cortland. That would be a familiar sight at the NCAA meet in each of the next two years as the Red Dragons, coached by USTFCCCA Hall of Famer Dr. Jack Daniels, proved to be the foil for the Meyer-led Knights, as they finished in the same positions in 1993 and 1994.
As the decade drew to a close, Meyer finally reached the top of the podium after two more top-4 finishes. Calvin won back-to-back titles in 1998 and 1999 to make Meyer just the third coach in NCAA DIII history to lead a women’s program to consecutive crowns. The Knights were paced by Amy Mizzone and Lisa Timmer, both of whom finished in the top-15 in back-to-back years.
Calvin continued to dominate the MIAA and contend at the NCAA Championships in the final six years of Meyer’s career. The Knights won five of six conference titles between 2000 and 2005 and finished as high as fifth in 2002 and 2003.
Meyer, a two-time National Coach of the Year and eight-time Regional Coach of the Year, stepped down in 2006. She remained an integral part of the Calvin athletic department as the Senior Associate Athletics Director/Athletics Compliance Director and as a full-time professor in the Calvin kinesiology department before retiring at the end of the 2020-2021 academic year.
She is married to Roy Hopp and has two children, Ally and Ben.
John Moon, one of the fastest men in the world in the 1960s, has become one of the most successful collegiate coaches on the Eastern Seaboard and continues to leave his mark worldwide as he adds to an already incredible legacy and a Hall of Fame career.
Moon’s passion for track & field dated back to a standout prep career at Linden (N.J.) High School that continued collegiately at Tennessee State University and as a post-collegiate athlete for the U.S. All-Army Team.
He developed into a collegiate star with the Tigers, winning the 100-yard final at the 1960 NAIA Outdoor Track & Field Championships and matching the world record of 9.3 later that year. That came one year after Moon finished third in the same event at the 1959 NCAA Championships.
Following graduation in 1961, Moon went to West Point and turned in a number of notable performances under its banner: Moon matched the all-time world best in the 100 meters of 10.0 in 1963 and famously handed the legendary “Bullet Bob” Hayes his final loss the following year.
Once Moon wrapped up his athletic career, he got his first taste of coaching at the Kilmer Job Center and then jumped in with both feet at Rahway (N.J.) High School, in addition to handling administrative duties at the school. Moon created a juggernaut out of a dormant track & field program, leading the Indians to 33 championships and a 99-11 dual meet record in seven years. Perhaps even more special was that each and every senior Moon coached went to college.
Moon’s rise continued in 1972, when he was named the head coach of cross country and track & field at Seton Hall University. He didn’t have to travel too far for his new job, since Seton Hall is just 14 miles away from Rahway in South Orange. And it’s at Seton Hall, where Moon has spent a better part of the past five decades.
Success came immediately, just like everywhere else in Moon’s athletic endeavors.
The Pirates won the men’s mile relay at the 1973 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships and followed that up with a meet-record performance of 3:14.0 the following year – en route to a fourth-place team finish – to become just the third program to win back-to-back national titles in that event. When The Hall won again in 1981, it stood alone as the only program with three national indoor titles to its credit in the mile relay.
Five more national event titles followed for the Pirates, including four from the women’s team during a 1994 campaign that saw them finish third indoors and eighth outdoors. Flirtisha Harris provided the spark for The Hall in 1994, sweeping the indoor and outdoor 400-meter crowns and anchoring both of the championship indoor and outdoor 4×400 relay teams. With Harris leading the way, the Pirates became the first women’s program in NCAA history – regardless of division – to win each of those quarter-mile titles between the indoor and outdoor seasons.
With as much national success as The Hall had in track & field – which included 73 All-America honors over the years – conference dominance was just a formality. From 1980 until 2010, when the university cut its track & field programs, the Pirates racked up six team titles and 225 individual or relay titles at the BIG EAST Championships.
Moon, who is now solely the head cross country coach at The Hall, has held several prestigious international appointments over the years. Back in 2000, Moon served as the first assistant coach for the USA men’s track & field team at the Sydney Olympic Games. Five years before that, Moon led Team USA at the Pan American Games in which the Americans won 35 medals.
In addition to coaching, Moon is a retired commander of the United States Naval Reserve.
He resides in Somerset, New Jersey, with his wife Thelma.
The ascension from assistant to head coach can sometimes be rocky, but it went without a hitch at LSU in the summer of 2004.
That’s because the Tigers had an ace already on staff in Dennis Shaver. His challenge was as big as they get – continue the juggernaut program built by Hall of Fame coach Pat Henry.
Shaver’s incredible success has been so palpable that he earned his own induction into the USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2021.
It didn’t take a rocket scientist to see Shaver was the perfect fit at LSU. He was the behind-the-scenes engineer who guided the women’s sprint/hurdle group to perennial success in the nine previous years as an assistant coach with the Tigers. His athletes won 18 individual and seven relay titles at the NCAA Indoor or Outdoor championships during this period.
Shaver’s now 40-year coaching career started innocently after playing quarterback and cornerback/safety at UT Arlington, from where he earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in physical education and education, respectively. His first coaching job was as an assistant in football and track & field at Hutchinson CC, about 40 miles south of his hometown of Salina, Kansas. After one year he was promoted to head coach of track & field while remaining an assistant in football.
His sporting gears shifted exclusively to track & field when he took the head coaching position at Barton CC in Great Bend, Kansas. There he continued the strong men’s team and built a powerhouse women’s program that won eight NJCAA titles – three indoor, three outdoor and two cross country, including the first national triple crown in junior college history in 1990-91, as the Cougars swept the cross country, indoor and outdoor titles.
From there, Shaver joined Harvey Glance at Auburn following the retirement of Hall of Famer Mel Rosen. After four years on the Plains, Shaver jumped at the chance to join Henry’s staff in Baton Rouge, where his nine seasons as an assistant became the springboard to the level of head coach.
The long list of athletes coached by Shaver includes the program’s two winners of The Bowerman, Kimberlyn Duncan (2012) and Sha’Carri Richardson (2019). Richardson is one of 10 men or women Shaver guided to the NCAA title in the 100 meters alone, including the versatile Xavier “X-Man” Carter. LSU’s sprint depth has regularly impressed as the Tigers have won 26 NCAA titles in relay events under Shaver.
Shaver has led the Tigers to a pair of national team titles. The women captured the first, back in 2008, when they beat Arizona State by just four points. Then, in 2021, Shaver’s men romped to a decisive NCAA victory behind six event titles – only the Jesse Owens-led Ohio State team of 1936 has won more in a single NCAA meet with seven.
More than 30 of Shaver’s athletes have continued to the Olympic stage, with 10 earning medals – including three at the Tokyo Games.
Shaver’s list of honors includes four National Coach of the Year awards from the USTFCCCA as well as once being named as the national Assistant Coach of the Year. He has been named Regional Coach of the Year nine times and the SEC Coach of the Year eight times. He served as President of the USTFCCCA from 2017-19.
Shaver and his wife Connie have two children – son Dale and daughter Lindsay.
John Weaver was so interwoven into the fabric of Appalachian State University that school officials were ecstatic when they found a way to keep at least his name around long after retirement: They created the John Weaver Endowed Scholarship.
It made perfect sense. For 40 years, Weaver built a distinguished career on the Mountaineer coaching staff, including 36 as the only women’s head coach the school had ever known.
After three years in retirement, Weaver is being acknowledged again, this time with induction into the USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2021.
App State’s cross country and track & field programs flourished under Weaver’s tutelage, accumulating 78 conference team championships, with 75 coming in the Southern Conference before the Mountaineers moved to the Sun Belt Conference in 2014.
That wasn’t the only hardware that was amassed by the programs – in addition to hundreds of all-conference honors by his athletes, Weaver himself was honored a total of 43 times as conference Coach of the Year, all but one in the Southern Conference.
Coaching wasn’t Weaver’s initial profession of choice. After graduating from App State in 1971, he returned to his earlier alma mater of Seventy-First High School in Fayetteville, N.C., to teach biology. A stipend to work as an assistant coach on the high school’s track team helped encourage the newly-married Weaver to take his first involvement in the sport – “to see what it was all about,” according to the Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer.
Soon, Weaver was putting his scientific mind to work, helping athletes train to get the maximum effort. When Seventy-First merged with Douglas Byrd High, Weaver was the principal’s first choice to lead the track & field program.
His first “recruiting” class came by standing near the football roster board and asking each skinny kid who got cut if they’d be interested in earning their first letter for the school. Some 60 boys showed up for track practice, and his coaching career took off.
Eager to improve, Weaver returned to App State to get his Master’s in biology and worked with the men’s cross country and track & field programs as a graduate assistant. He intended to return to Byrd but upon graduation was offered an alternative option of becoming head coach for the start-up women’s cross country and track & field programs.
Weaver stayed in Boone. That was in 1982 during transformational times for women’s sports, and Weaver helped the Southern Conference begin championships in cross country (1985), outdoor track (1987) and indoor track (1988).
App State became a dominant force in all three sports, winning the SoCon “Triple Crown” seven times.
In 1995, Weaver was named head coach of the Mountaineers’ combined men’s and women’s track & field teams, and the men added four SoCon triple crowns of their own.
Weaver coached many accomplished women, highlighted by hurdler Melissa Morrison, who won 12 SoCon individual titles and went on to earn a pair of Olympic bronze medals, and Mary Jayne Harrelson, the 1999 and 2001 NCAA 1500-meter champion. Harrelson and Morrison were two major pieces in App State earning 23 total All-America honors under his watch.
During the summer of 2012, Weaver served as the sprints and hurdles coach for the women’s USA National Under-23 team that competed in Mexico.
Weaver is married to Cynthia Harmon and has two sons, Chase and Jay, both graduates of App State.