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.