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.