Head Coach Beverly Kearney
Hometown: Bradenton, Fla.
Beverly Kearney begins her 16th season at the helm of the University of Texas women's track and field program this fall.
Kearney joined an elite group of track and field coaches prior to starting the 2008 seasons. She was honored as one of eight inductees into the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame. She became the sixth Longhorn and second consecutive inductee as Texas Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds entered the hall of fame in 2006.
The Longhorns coach was the perfect candidate as she has seven NCAA Championships, six at The University of Texas, and 19 league titles since joining the program in 1993. Her teams have won in commanding fashion (witness UT's record 30-point margin of victory at the 1998 NCAA Indoor meet) and by the slimmest of margins (the Longhorns won the 1998 NCAA Outdoor, 1999 NCAA Indoor, 1999 NCAA Outdoor and 2005 NCAA Outdoor meets in the final event).
Kearney is coming off a 2007 season in which the Longhorns extended the streak of top-two Big 12 Indoor finishes to 11 and finished top-three for the 11th time at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships. In 2007, the Longhorns finished in eighth-place at the NCAA indoor meet, second at the NCAA Midwest Region Championships, and sixth at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Under her guidance, six athletes brought home eight All-American honors during the indoor season. That number increased to eight individuals amassing 16 honors at the outdoor championship. In that group, four were first-time All-Americans under Kearney. Sophomore high jumper Destinee Hooker cleared six consecutive bars to become the first UT woman to win back-to-back NCAA outdoor high jump titles, and just the second in school history to win multiple high jump national championships.
The 2007 season was a rebuilding year after losing NCAA champion and All-American sprinter and jumper Marshevet Hooker to the professional rankings. Prior to Marshavet Hooker's departure, Kearney's Longhorns dominated the field to win the 2006 NCAA Indoor Championship with 51 points, topping Stanford, who placed second with 36 points. For the team's success, Kearney was named the 2006 U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Women's Indoor Coach of the Year. The third-year Longhorn, Marshevet Hooker, was the meet's high-point winner after capturing NCAA titles in the 60-meter dash and the long jump. She also added a fourth-place finish in the 200 meters. Junior Michelle Carter claimed her first NCAA championship in the shot, and first-semester freshman Destinee Hooker placed third in the high jump. The 4x400-meter relay quartet of senior Sheretta Jones, freshman Alex Anderson and seniors LaTashia Kerr and Melaine Walker contributed a third-place finish to add six points to the UT tally. Walker added another All-America showing to her credit when she finished fifth in the 60-meter hurdles.
Kearney led the Longhorns to a sixth-place finish at the 2006 NCAA Outdoor Championships despite the absence of the injured Marshevet Hooker. Destinee Hooker capped a standout freshman campaign by capturing her first NCAA high jump title, and the 4x100-meter relay quartet of sophomore Jasmine Lee, Anderson, Kerr and Walker won the NCAA title in 42.84 to tie the team's season-best time. Walker and Michelle Carter added third-place finishes in the 100-meter hurdles and the shot put, respectively. Anderson collected her first individual All-America honor by taking seventh in the 100 meters, and Kerr wrapped up her Longhorn career with a seventh-place showing in the 400 meters. Marshevet Hooker and Melaine Walker each finished the season as finalists for the Honda Cup, given to the nation's top track and field student-athlete.
In June of 2005, Kearney had her roster of only seven performers make a remarkable run to the 2005 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Sacramento, Calif. With one of the smallest number of competitors in NCAA history on a team, which won a track and field title, Kearney and her staff led Texas to a seven-point win, as the Longhorns scored 55 points, ahead of runner-up UCLA and South Carolina (each with 48 points). Texas won in dramatic fashion with a first-place finish in the final event of the competition (the 4x400 meter relay).
The Longhorns trailed UCLA by three points and were five points ahead of South Carolina heading into the 4x400-meter relay. UT's quartet of juniors Sheretta Jones, Melaine Walker and LaTashia Kerr along with sophomore anchor Jerrika Chapple won the event in a time of 3:27.13 to clinch the national title for Texas.
During the competition, the Longhorns won national titles in both the 4x100 and 4x400-meter relays, while sophomore Marshevet Hooker took the national crown in the 100 meter-dash. All seven Texas performers gained All-American honors as they combined for top-eight finishes in the following events: 100 and 400 meters, 100 and 400 hurdles, long jump, shot put and 4x100 meter and 4x400 meter relays.
Earlier in the season, the Longhorns finished second at the Big 12 Conference Indoor Championships and ninth at the NCAA Indoor Championships (competing with just three athletes across four events). With the onset of the outdoor campaign, Texas built the momentum for its run to the national crown by placing second at the Big 12 outdoor meet and winning the 2005 NCAA Midwest Regional Championships.
For her efforts, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) recognized Kearney as the 2005 National Women's Outdoor Coach of the Year and the 2005 Mondo Midwest Region Coach of the Year. It marked the fourth time that Kearney has received national coach of the year honors and the ninth time she has earned regional coaching honors.
Hooker added to the accolades by being named the 2005 USTFCCCA National Female Outdoor Athlete of the Year, Women's South Central District Athlete of the Year and the Big 12 Women's Track and Field Outdoor Performer of the Year. Additionally, she was a finalist for the prestigious 2004-05 Honda Sports Award as National Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
Prior to the outdoor season, Kearney was recognized on February 21, 2005 as one of five recipients of the 2005 Giant Steps Award in Orlando, Fla.; the award, given by the National Consortium for Academics & Sports, is presented to individuals who have achieved excellence in academics and athletics while having made significant contributions to the community.
Kearney has now led UT to an unprecedented run of 14 consecutive top-10 finishes at the NCAA Outdoor Championships and seven top-three finishes overall. Her success at the NCAA Indoor Championships is equally astounding as she has led the Longhorns to 14 consecutive top-11 finishes and seven top-three finishes. On the conference level, Kearney's Texas teams also have dominated, winning 19 of a possible 30 conference team titles in her tenure.
Individually, Kearney's athletes are among the most decorated in the nation. She has guided 36 different Longhorns to a total of 50 national titles (28 individual, 22 relay), a total surpassed only by the great LSU dynasty since 1993. In 15 seasons in burnt orange, 43 Longhorns have earned All-America status to account for 280 all-America accolades. In addition, her Longhorn student-athletes have accumulated more individual national championships than all but one other institution.
Included among the numerous awards her athletes have garnered are the Honda Award as National Track and Field Athlete of the Year, the USTCA Indoor and Outdoor Female Athlete of the Year honors and two Big 12 Female Athlete of the Year awards. In the UT record books, her pupils own 24 current school records, including collegiate records in the indoor 4x400m relay and indoor high jump.
Kearney herself has been honored with four National Coach of the Year honors, nine District Coach of the Year accolades and 14 Conference Coach of the Year honors. And, this is just from her tenure at the University of Texas. In her 18 years overall as a head coach, Kearney has accumulated enough honors to last a lifetime: 35 Coach of the Year honors, 32 NCAA top-10 finishes, six NCAA Championship titles, 35 NCAA individual champions, 18 relay national titles, and 21 conference team championships.
All of those victories and achievements, which heightened UT's long-standing tenure among the nation's elite track and field programs, were obvious. Yet, the most important UT victory that Kearney was involved in occurred at the 1992 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Austin where the Longhorns managed to grab the top prize. The top prize didn't come in the form of a medal; it came in the form of Kearney herself.
Shortly after leading the University of Florida to a second-place finish at the 1992 NCAA Outdoor meet, Kearney, a Bradenton, Fla., native, accepted then-Texas Athletic Director Jody Conradt's offer to become the fourth head coach in the history of the Texas women's track and field program. Ever since her arrival in Austin 13 years ago, Kearney's results have been stunning. Rather than Texas comparing itself to other successful track and field programs, Texas now sets the standard for excellence and comparison in the sport.
It is obvious that Kearney and success go hand in hand, and she regularly adds to her list of accomplishments. In October of 2006, the Buiniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis recognized Kearney as a 2006 Sports Legend at the 21st Annual Great Sports Legend Dinner. In November of 2006, Kearney was enshrined in the University of Texas Women's Hall of Honor March of 2007 was a busy month for Kearney as three outlets highlighted her career achievements. Kearney served as a guest panelist on Trinity Broadcasting Network's (TBN) "Praise the Lord" hosted by gospel legend Cece Winan's and the world's only live Christian talk show. Kearney was selected as the 2007 Honoree Woman of Distinction at the Seventh Annual H-E-B Annual luncheon. The city of Tempe (Ariz.) and the Tempe Sports Authority honored her at the 14th Annual Gene Autry Courage Awards, an honor given annually to deserving men and women in sports who have demonstrated heroism in the face of difficulty or danger. One month later, Kearney served as the honorary co-chair at the Girl Scouts-Lone Star Council's Women of Distinction Luncheon.
Prior to receiving her national coach of the year honor and the Giant Steps Award in 2005, Kearney had added to her list of honors in 2004 after she was named to the International Women's Sports Hall of Fame along with three-time Olympic gold medal swimmer Nancy Hogshead-Makar and eight-time Wimbledon and International Tennis Hall of Famer Maria Bueno. She also received the Gary Bridwell Courage Award, given by the Dallas All Sports Association, for her tenacious and on-going battle to overcome injuries and trauma suffered in a December 2002 car crash.
In 2003, Kearney was one of a select few track and field coaches featured in a special section entitled "What It Takes To Be A Champion" which is on display in the National Track & Field Hall of Fame Museum at the Armory Track Center in New York. In the fall of 2001, Kearney was honored with a special exhibit at the George Washington Carver Museum & Cultural Center in Austin for her many achievements on and off the track. In 1996, she reached another pinnacle of success, serving her first year as president of the Men's and Women's Track and Field Coaches' Association, making her the first woman and the first African-American to hold that post.
Kearney's success in track and field is recognized worldwide as her pupils have accumulated nine Olympic medals dating back to the 1992 Games. In 2004, both Sanya Richards and Moushaumi Robinson won gold medals in the 4x400 meter relay, while Sandie Richards won a bronze medal for Jamaica in the same race. In 2000, Nanceen Perry helped Team USA win the 4x100-meter relay bronze and Sandie Richards helped Jamaica win the 4x400-meter relay silver. In 1996, Deon Hemmings blazed to the gold medal for Jamaica in the 400-meter hurdles, while former Texas multiple All-American Carlette Guidry captured the gold as a member of Team USA's 4x100m relay. Former University of Florida standout Michelle Freeman also earned a bronze in the 4x100 relay for Jamaica in '96. Lavonna Martin, a former star at the University of Tennessee, captured a silver medal in the 100-meter hurdles at the 1992 Olympics.
In addition to her coaching accomplishments, Kearney was a standout student-athlete as well. She began her career at Hillsborough (Fla.) Community College where she earned National Junior College All-America honors. She then moved to Auburn University where she claimed two AIAW All-America honors and was selected the Auburn Athlete of the Year and team MVP as a senior. In 1980, Kearney qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 200m before closing out her career at Auburn in 1981 and earning a bachelor's degree in social work.
Kearney's steady climb to the top of the coaching world began in 1981 when she was completing her master's degree at Indiana State. Kearney served as a graduate assistant for the Sycamores, guiding several athletes to the NCAA Championships and to All-America honors before earning her master's in adapted physical education and moving on to the University of Toledo. At Toledo, she served a two-year head-coaching stint from 1982-84. In a preview of things to come from the promising young coach, Kearney helped Toledo's track and field program break 25 school records.
Her trail of success continued at Tennessee, where she was the top assistant track coach for the national powerhouse Lady Vols from 1984-86. During her tenure at Tennessee, the Vols finished in the top four in nearly every indoor and outdoor national meet. Six of her athletes captured NCAA titles, and an impressive 12 garnered All-America honors. Equally impressive, the Vols' 4x400m relay team set an indoor world record in 1986 as they claimed the NCAA title.
The University of Florida came calling for Kearney in 1988, where she would embark upon a five-year stint as one of the brightest young coaches in the world. Kearney led the Gators to three first-place finishes in the Southeastern Conference, and ended her Florida career with first and second-place finishes at the NCAA indoor and outdoor meets, respectively. She was named the 1992 NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Coach of the Year for her efforts, as well as SEC indoor and outdoor coaching accolades. By winning the 1992 NCAA Division I Indoor title, Kearney became the first African American female track and field coach to accomplish that honor and just the third African American head coach ever (Tina Sloan Green was the first African American head coach to win an NCAA Division I title in women's lacrosse and John Thompson was the second African American head coach to win an NCAA Division I team title with the Georgetown Hoyas in 1984).
As it would happen, Kearney closed her Gator career in Longhorns territory. While busy guiding Florida to a silver-medal finish at the 1992 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Austin, it was then that Kearney caught the eye of Conradt. Since then, she has had unparalleled success in leading Texas to national prominence.