The Running Man: Hadsell signs extension with RocketsWritten by Mike Bauman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Toledo women’s track and field and men’s and women’s cross country coach Kevin Hadsell is unlike many in his profession, and it’s a big reason why UT Athletic Director Mike O’Brien recently gave him a new three-year contract that will keep him with the Rockets through June 30, 2014.
“Kevin is one of the most respected track and cross country coaches in the country,” O’Brien said in a statement. “He has an outstanding history of achievement, both in the Mid-American Conference and on a national level. His student-athletes also have been consistently outstanding in the classroom and in the Toledo community. We are pleased that Kevin will continue to lead our program for a long time to come.”
Hadsell arrived to Toledo in 1998 as the men’s and women’s cross country coach and took over the reins as women’s track and field coach in 2003. Between his duties as coach for both programs, Hadsell has produced a total of 27 Mid-American Conference champions and 23 MAC runner-up finishers.
“People are going to be attracted to different types of coaches,” Hadsell said in a phone interview with Toledo Free Press last month. “I tell everybody, ‘If you want to be coached by a librarian, then dude, I’m not that coach. There’s plenty of coaches out there that look and act like book librarians. You want a coach that’s going to make you laugh and is going to motivate you and give you training that’s going to make you great, then maybe this is the place for you.’”
Hadsell’s affable coaching style first developed at Coastal Carolina under the tutelage of the Chanticleers’ head women’s cross country/track and field coach Alan Connie, where he served as an assistant coach and assistant sports information director from 1993-97.
“He is one of my best friends, and it was really his style,” Hadsell said. “This is the type of person where you can just be yourself. You talk to any of my friends from high school or any of my friends from college that ran with me and my teammates, [and] they would tell you that I’m no different now than I was 20 years ago. I love to joke around. I love to laugh and everything else.
“So really, in terms of the way that I interact, that’s more of just I’m able to be myself. I don’t have to pretend to be anybody, but then my coaching style in terms of how I deal with maybe adversity, or how I deal with discipline and these things, those came from coach Connie, who’s my greatest mentor. I would say those two things put together, that’s how I’ve molded myself into the coach that I’ve always been.”
After taking over a women’s cross country program that finished last in the MAC 13 times in 18 years prior to his arrival, Hadsell has guided the team to three MAC Championships (2001, 2002, 2010), receiving MAC Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year honors in each of those seasons. He has coached an NCAA Regional Cross Country Champion and NCAA Regional Cross Country Athlete of the Year (Briana Shook, 2002), the only women’s coach in MAC history to have that on his résumé. Hadsell has also coached five of his cross country athletes to MAC Runner of the Year awards, another five of his athletes to MAC Athlete of the Year in track and field and five different women to Top-25 World Rankings (Shook, Tuula Laitinen, Everlyne Lagat, Ebba Stenbeck and Ari Fisher).
In addition, Hadsell has had 15 Rockets receive NCAA All-Region selections since 1999—twice as many as any other MAC school in that same time frame—and guided seven Toledo athletes to the NCAA Championships in the last eleven years, which is more than the rest of the conference combined in that period. This past fall, the women’s cross country squad earned its’ first-ever bid to the NCAA Championships.
“I think that—being honest—it’s not just me that people come here,” Hadsell said. “My personality is such that I’m friendly and I’m outgoing, and I know that I’m a lot different than other coaches. That’s pretty clear, but if I were coaching at a really crappy school with crappy facilities and crappy academics, I don’t necessarily think we’d be having this conversation right now. I’d just be like this nice guy who likes to tell jokes at a crappy school.”