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

In time of transition, track and field perseveres without head coach

After an 18-year career at the helm of the Macalester Track and Field program, Marty Peper “will no longer be coaching at Macalester,” as stated in an email sent out to the team last Thursday by Athletic Director Kim Chandler.

Neither Chandler nor Peper were able to comment on the reasons for the change due to the college’s confidentiality policy regarding personnel decisions.

Chandler admitted that there has been a “full spectrum in terms of response.” The sudden loss of the school’s longest-tenured coach came as a surprise to many on the team.

“It was a huge shock,” said Thomas Eich ’15 (Walkerton, Ind.), a sprinter on the men’s team. “I don’t think anybody was really expecting it.”

Before becoming Macalester’s head coach, Peper was an assistant with the team for three years. Prior to that, he was an assistant for six years at his alma mater, Carleton. During his coaching career, Peper coached three national champions and more than 50 national qualifiers. His teams also performed well academically, earning 10 USTCA All-Academic team honors and 10 more individual honors.

According to Chandler, ongoing meetings are being held with the team’s four assistant coaches as the Athletic Department searches for a new coach and the team continues off-season training. Chandler has also met with the team’s captains, and the team as a whole, to listen to their concerns and insights.

“(The assistant coaches) have been fantastic,” Chandler said. “They’ve all expressed their desire to step forward and do whatever it takes. They want to see good things for the program. I’ve just been really pleased with that. They’ve been highly energized and saying, ‘We’ll do whatever it takes to keep moving forward.’”

With indoor pre-season only two months away, Chandler said that she is still “trying to piece together” what will make an appropriate new hire.

“There are a lot of aspects in terms of overseeing a track and field program,” Chandler said. “For me, I’m just in the mode of listening, saying, ‘Talk to me. Tell me what you want to share with me. Talk to me about your perspectives.’ And then we’ll try to align those.”

Chandler said she’s debating between a national coaching search versus hiring an interim coach, although she recognized the difficulty in the former.

“The timing in terms of an applicant pool would be best served in the April-May-June time period as the track and field seasons are concluding,” she said. “My sense is that we’ll meet with these coaches and really talk about, given the timing of things, how can we get fully mobilized right now.”

“We’re gonna think about everything,” Chandler said. “We’re going to discuss all of these different models and different ideas and say, ‘Is this really the right fit for Macalester?’ And I’m not sure what we’ll come up with.”

Chandler addressed the impact that this change has on this current season.

“We have time, right now we’ve reinstated the practices with the help of an assistant coach (Todd Wojchik), so student-athletes are able to train and still stay involved in trying to do things. It’s basically a non-traditional form of training,” she said.

Eich reinforced this. “As a team we’re focusing on … continuing practicing and just moving forward as a team,” he said.

As Chandler weighs the future of the program, one thing is certain. According to her, the new head coach must buy into the school’s mission.

“It really is about the student experience,” Chandler said. “We put our kids in a highly energized, highly passionate, organized and cohesive group, and that’s been important in all of our programs.”

Additional reporting by Ben Bartenstein.

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