The women’s track and field team may have finally found its key ingredient.
After three years of inconsistency at the head coach position, Maicel Malone, a former Olympian and All-American from Arizona State University has stepped in to build a legacy of her own at the University.
Before officially accepting the job as head coach, Malone was the assistant coach for the Florida State University track team.
During her tenure at FSU, she assisted the women’s team to a second place finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2002.
Malone ventured into the 2003 season credited with helping bring in one of FSU’s best recruiting classes in over a decade.
This season is Malone’s first full year as head coach of the Lady Rattlers track and field team.
She began coaching in November 2005, midway through the season. Malone is the only coach for the women’s team and coaches all the events for the program. Her duties as head coach range from recruiting to the practicing sessions she set up for her athletes.
The effort she displays as a coach is admired by many of her runners including team captain Jesseka Forbes, a 20-year-old pharmacy student from Tallahassee.
“I think I speak for everyone when I say since she’s been at FAMU, she has changed the face of the program,” the Forbes said.
Her runners all admit she has brought a new swagger to the team. It has become more confident athletically and academically, Forbes said.
LaKendra Cunningham, a 20-year-old junior economics student from Tallahassee, said Malone has really brought the team together.
“We began doing community service as a team,” Cunningham said. “She focuses on identifying ways to improve our program.”
The team continued to build that bond through team meetings.
“It is positive reinforcement that enables us to be more confident,” Forbes said.
The Lady Rattlers said they see her as a leader. Malone’s also athletes said they also see her as an encouraging figure.
Lindsay Thomas, a 22-year-old physical education student from Sicklerville, N.J., said the coach is known by many of her athletes as a woman of many roles.
“She knows I get nervous before races,” the senior said.
“She will walk up and tell me no one is faster than you. You train just as hard as anyone out here.”
Coach Malone has been described as a woman who knows how to bring the best out of her athletes.
“She’s handled it pretty well from being assistant coach at FSU to head coach here,” Thomas said.
Alvin Hollins said he felt Malone’s work with the team has been of great benefit.
“She has the skills to put this program back on track,” said Hollins, an assistant athletic director for communications.
“One of the things she’s done a good job of is restoring confidence in the young ladies,” Hollins said.
Hollins said the program is undergoing a rebuilding phase and that confidence is important.
“Coach Malone is working to recruit and building a program that was prosperous during the late 1990s, when they won five MEAC titles,” Hollins said.
“She’s done a great job restoring a sense of pride in the program.”