The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Cross country coach resigns after eighteen years at Mac

By Matt Day

Women’s cross country coach Jordan Cushing ’96 will resign at the end of May after 10 years leading the program, the athletics department announced Wednesday.Cushing shared her decision with her team Tuesday night, in what she and team members described as a candid, hour-long conversation with moments of tears and laughter.

“I had a really good conversation with the team,” Cushing said. “I feel like it’s most important to me that they know the reasons behind [the resignation].”

“A couple of years ago I would have said I thought I would be here the rest of my career,” Cushing said. “Macalester was home. It still is, but for a lot of different reasons things change.”

Cushing would not give a specific reason for her resignation, but said leaving the college had been on her mind since the fall.

“It’s just time after 18 years,” she said. “I can’t give it all if things aren’t right.”

Cushing was an All-Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference runner in track and cross country at Macalester after transferring from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore.

She took a position as an assistant coach with the cross country team upon graduating and was elevated to head coach in 2000. Cushing has guided 10 all-conference performers. Two of her runners qualified for nationals, and the 2005 team placed 21st at nationals.

Erin Lowrey ’10, who qualified for nationals in 2007, said Cushing’s presence was an important factor in her choosing Macalester.

“Jordan has built an incredible program here and we’re all struggling to imagine Macalester cross country without her,” Lowrey said. “But we know she’s making the right decision for herself and for her family.”

In addition to her year-round work with cross country, Cushing holds the title of Assistant Athletics Director and serves as the liaison between the athletics and admissions departments, putting coaches in contact with prospective students.

Athletics Director Kim Chandler said she didn’t know the specific reasoning behind Cushing’s resignation.

“In this situation, Jordan has said it’s just time to leave Macalester,” Chandler said.

“I think her impact has been terrific,” Chandler said. “She’s literally poured her heart and soul into these kids. She’s worked hard to build a good program.”

Chandler said there were no firm plans yet for the search to replace Cushing. She said the department would likely conduct two separate national searches, one to take Cushing’s administrative role, and the other for a candidate with a background in cross country and track.

Lowrey said the team met Wednesday to discuss what they would like to see in a new coach. “We’re definitely going to stay as involved as possible in the hiring process,” she said of the team.

Chandler wouldn’t rule out combining the men’s and women’s cross country programs under one head coach.

“There are a number of options,” she said, noting that strategic discussions about the direction of the program would precede any hiring search. “We’re taking a look at how other colleges’ models work. There are a lot of models out there, and all of them work on some level.”

Cushing’s resignation comes a little more than a year after her husband, Curt Keitzer, announced his own resignation from the department after 12 years as head coach of the Macalester men’s basketball team. Keitzer, whose career included runs in the conference playoffs and an upset of Division I Yale, left after a winless season in 2008-09, the team’s first in the Leonard Center.

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