The early alarm goes off, and hitting the snooze button seems like the next best option, except for the memorable words of track and field coach Derek Gay.
“How you do one thing is how you do everything...even hit the snooze button,” Gay said about elite athletes.
For Gay, running is much more than minutes, muscles and miles. While those aspects are vital to the success of the program, as the new track and field coach, Derek Gay, has a whole-person approach with running and offers a strong platform of leadership and experience.
Over the years, Coach Gay has worked hard to gain a healthy perspective of running as a sport, as well as a mentality by attending coaching conventions, being involved in mentorship programs and USA Track and Field (USATF). He attests to how each of these experiences and more have enriched him as both a coach and a person.
He and his wife, Kayla, are excited to be a part of the Taylor community and call Upland home, especially as they anticipate the birth of their first child. Previously, he coached at IWU and Dillard University in Louisiana.
Leadership transitions can be uncertain, but Gay has stepped up to the line to run a level-headed, balanced race without hesitation. Previous coach Rod Waters left the program in a strong and healthy place, and as Gay continues to strengthen Taylor track and field, titan-worthy performances are bound to come.
Baseball Coach and Athletic Director Kyle Gould believes Gay will lead the program well.
“When you hire a new coach, you hire them to be themselves, and people are always most successful when they’re doing that,” Gould said. “He has a very strong sense of who he is and how he does things.”
Gay’s commitment to excellence and growth was evident from the beginning. Like for all teams, Taylor seeks coaches who are first a committed Christ-follower. That value paired with a proven track record of recruiting and developing athletes in the sport is what, in the end, sets apart a man like Gay from other possible applicants.
Senior cross country and mid-distance runner Luke Rovenstine had only positive things to say about Gay.
“He’s bringing a championship mentality that is very invested in the program and in this area,” said Rovenstine.
Passionate athletes like Luke crave a coach that feels the same way as they do about their sport and who will promote positivity and thankfulness among the team.
Rovenstine noted that Gay is dedicated and interested in the team as a whole and each athlete.
“He’s a very personal coach,” Rovenstine said. “He’s done a lot of great work in the past, and we’re really excited to see how his experiences as a coach and his devotion to excellence plays into Taylor and the athletics there.”
Like many other students and faculty, Gay was drawn to Taylor not just for its credentials but for its community. His desire to see intentional unity within the track and cross country programs only confirms his compatibility with Taylor’s values.