First track-and-field season under way for new coach Derek Gay

Provided by Derek Gay/Courtbouillon
Coach Derek Gay gives advice to runner Amara Edwards, a sophomore computer science major from Alexandria, Va., at practice recently. The team practices at City Park. 

NEW ORLEANS (March 4, 2018) – As track and field season cranks up, new head coach Derek Gay said his goal is a well-rounded team that can compete every year for the conference championship.

Dillard will participate in its second meet of the season Friday in the Tulane Early Bird Twilight Meet, one of seven competitions for March. Another four are scheduled for April and May.

The season started Feb. 17 with the William Carey Last-Chance meet, during which Jovan Roaches-Lambey won the long jump with 22 feet, 6.5 inches, followed by all-American Quamel Sessoms with 22 feet, 1.5 inches.

Gay replaced Bobby Williams on Jan. 2 as coach of men’s and women’s track and field and cross-country, coming from Indiana Wesleyan University, where he ran for four years before graduating and becoming coach from 2011-17. He went on to coach three total national champions, with two in the high jump and one in the long jump, and a total of 30-plus All Americans.

Gay said he plans to prepare the Dillard teams to participate in championships, starting with a weekly plan: “They know exactly what they’re going to be doing every day this week before the week even starts.”

He said he also wants to cultivate an attitude of success.

“If you’ve done all the little things right – gotten enough sleep, not skipped workouts, you were at practice on time and gave your best effort the whole time – then you can be successful…because you did everything you possibly could to be the best version of yourself in that moment,” he said.

“We’ve got a lot of talent on the team this year,” he added.

Gay also has some rebuilding to do, with 11 cross-country runners and 26 in track and field this year, compared to 17 and 42 last year. In order to have a successful cross-country program, he said, more depth is required.

He said all of the distance athletes are successful, and adding depth, will allow long sprinters to focus solely on track-and-field year-round.

“There’s always hidden talent lurking around any college campus, and I would encourage anyone who thinks they would like to give either sport a try next year to reach out to me.”

Gay took a “leap of faith” when he began searching for open head coaching positions across the country.

“My faith is very important to me. My wife and I had been praying, and we felt like God was, for some reason, was calling us to this region of the U.S. Ironically, Dillard was one of the only schools that fit that criteria,” Gay said.

Track and field and cross-country are sports where win/loss records don’t determine the success of the team, but nationals and conference are important. At the conference meet last year, men were second out of four teams and women were fourth out of five teams. At the nationals, men didn’t score, and the women came in tied for No. 29.