A new season has just begun for the Albion College Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams.
Derick Lawrence, Albion’s former head cross country coach, and his wife, Emily Lawrence, Albion’s former throwing coach for track and field, left Albion seven days before the start of the 2019 cross country season. They now both hold head coaching positions at Earlham College, where Derick manages the men’s and women’s cross country and Emily oversees track and field.
“This situation is unusual in the timing,” said Matt Arend, Albion College’s Athletic Director. However, Arend also added that he has great confidence in Coleman and Murphy’s ability to keep the team together and striving.
“[The team] came in in a good condition this year. I’m pretty excited,” said Lance Coleman, Albion College’s head track and field coach.
Coleman, along with MariKate Murphy, will be filling the position for the 2019 season as the co-interim cross country coaches.
Coleman has held a position with Albion’s track and field team for the last 20 years, while Murphy was hired as an assistant coach in the spring of 2019. This will be Murphy’s first year as a cross country coach, but her background and experience as a long distance runner from 2012 to 2018 while she was in school has her well prepared.
“We want to provide a good experience for our assistant coaches that prepares them for a head coaching position,” said Arend. “Typically, when other schools look to hire your assistants, that is a sign that you have a healthy, successful athletic department.”
The co-interim coaching for the team is temporary. A search for a new head cross country coach will start once the season is over.
“If MariKate is interested in it, then she can definitely put her hat in the ring,” said Coleman.
Overall, the average number of years for Albion College’s coaching staff is seven. “I believe [four years] is how long it takes for a coach to fully implement their philosophies and program,” said Arend. He said he is happy with the college’s average retention rate.
Due to losing two coaches, the athletic department is planning to post the open positions on NCAA by the end of the season. There will be a three to four week application acceptance period followed by the interview process. Hopefully, Arend said, the hiring process will take a total of no more than eight weeks.
“Both of [the Lawrences] knowledge will be missed,” said Coleman. “Emily coordinated a lot of things with her throwers and sprinters when it came time to come together to do strength training.”
While the rhythm of coaching together became second nature for Coleman and the Lawrences, they now have the opportunity to inspire their athletes and build their respective athletic programs for years to come.
“The [team] has been upbeat, very positive, and very supportive of each other,” said Coleman.
While his experience is with jumpers and sprinters in track and field, his coaching philosophy is still the same as he steps up to coach the cross country team this fall.