Alabama welcomes Dan WatersBy Mary Grace Showfety | 10/03/2011 11:10pm
The Alabama track and field and cross-country teams have welcomed Dan Waters into their family, serving as the new head coach for the Crimson Tide. Waters was hired in May to replace Harvey Glance and Sandy Fowler, the head coach of the men’s program and women’s program, respectively.
Fresh from a seven-year stay at Texas A&M, Waters comes to Alabama with a full résume.
“Those guys are good friends,” Waters said. “I just wish we wouldn’t see them so soon. With Texas A&M coming over to the SEC it brings a lot of really positive things. It brings another great, quality academic school that’s deep in tradition into the conference.”
While at Texas A&M, Waters served as the assistant track coach and head cross-country coach from 2004 to 2011. Waters worked under well-known Aggies’ coach Pat Henry. Together they won consecutive NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2009 and 2010. LSU is the only other program to win back-to-back championships, in 1989 and 1990.
Waters, a native of Prairie Village, Kan., began his coaching career as a volunteer assistant at the University of Texas in 1995. He later added schools like Texas Christian University and University of Georgia to his ticket as well.
In every program Waters has worked with prior to Alabama, the men and women worked as a combined team. Despite previous years of a gender-divided team, the Tide will now work united as one.
“The girls and guys on the team are transitioning nicely to our system of coaching and the way we’re doing things,” Waters said. “It’s been fun teaching and having them learn. They’re giving it a shot and we’re getting a little bit better as we go. It has been good for them. Just in the short time we’ve been here you can start to see the team atmosphere and watch them develop a team identity. And that was one of our short-term goals: to form our identity.”
The change in coaching comes amid the college careers of over 20 seniors, including Austin Duckworth, a senior cross country and distance runner from Vestavia Hills, Ala.
“I think it’s a good thing,” Duckworth said. “It’s good to have a little bit of change. Coach Waters has had a lot of success at Texas A&M, that’s always good to see. I’m kind of excited to see how we’ll respond to that.”
Duckworth said he hopes for another finish in the top three teams in the SEC, and subsequently a trip to the national championship.
Palee Myrex, a sophomore cross country and distance runner, said she can see immediate and positive changes in her performance due to Waters’ coaching.
“At first I was a little nervous,” Myrex said. “But I’ve found that the supplemental things to running have helped a lot. I’ve found it’s helped me the most. The stretches and workouts he’s incorporated in the weight room — I’ve really enjoyed that too.”
Waters said he expects great things from the Crimson Tide this year and hopes to continue the tradition of excellence that the SEC is so well known for.
“The whole staff is excited,” Waters said. “The thing we are most excited about is the potential here at Alabama. Every time we turn around we’re just astonished at the beauty of the campus, the academic offering and support, the people here, just the overall feel of what we have. And with some changes of course we think we can make this something extremely special.”