Helmer Named Director and Head Coach of Men's and Women's Cross Country and Track & Field
May 25, 2007
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The Indiana University Department of Athletics has named Ron Helmer Director and Head Coach of Men's and Women's Cross Country and Track & Field, Director of Athletics Rick Greenspan announced on Friday. Helmer served in the same capacity at Georgetown University the last eight years.
"It is a really exciting time for me and my family," Helmer said. "This is an incredible opportunity. I was really impressed with the level of positive enthusiasm I encountered with everyone I met in Bloomington. It's going to be a great challenge and I'm really excited to get started."
Helmer was promoted to director in July 1999 after serving as associate head coach with the Hoyas for seven seasons and assistant coach for the five years prior. During his tenure, 117 of his student-athletes earned a total of 337 All-American recognitions, including 41 student-athletes receiving 96 certificates since becoming director in 1999. In addition, 213 student-athletes captured BIG EAST individual titles, including 61 since the start of the 1999-00 academic year.
At the NCAA Championships, he guided 27 athletes or relay teams to a top-three finish, highlighted by four national champions - Joline Staeheli (mile, 1995), Miesha Marzell (1500m, 1996) and two distance medley relay champions (1997, 1999). He also has seen his teams earn 20 top-10 finishes in NCAA Championship action, including a streak of 15 straight at the cross country championships that ended in 2003. Among the top-10 finishes were seven top-four trophy finishes, including a third at the 1998 NCAA Indoor Championships and, most recently, a fourth-place finish at the 2002 NCAA Cross Country Championships.
"Ron Helmer is a proven winner," Greenspan said. "We conducted a national search and we feel Ron was the best fit for this program. He has had great success on a national stage and his student-athletes have always represented themselves at the highest level on the competitive field and in the classroom."
Associate Athletic Director and cross country and track & field sport administrator Janet Kittell also expressed confidence in the selection of Helmer to guide the Hoosiers.
"We were absolutely thrilled to attract an individual with Ron's experience and success," Kittell said. "We are positive he can restore Indiana to its rightful place not only in the Big Ten Conference but on the national stage.
"Ron's student-athletes boast an academic record and a consistently high graduation rate that speak for themselves," Kittell added. "The academic accomplishments of his teams have been at elite levels. He has a proven ability to influence his student-athletes to embrace both academic and athletic excellence. This record of achievement mirrors IU's philosophy and vision for student-athlete success."
Helmer led Hoya teams to the Championship of America relay titles at the Penn Relays, the latest being the 2004 men's 4x800m squad with a time of 7:13.75, the seventh-fastest time in collegiate history. He has been part of 37 BIG EAST Championship teams and his student-athletes have been honored 11 times as the Robert A. Duffey Scholar-Athlete award winner, given to the student-athlete who best embodies academic and athletic excellence.
In January 2006, Coach Helmer was the recipient of the Coaches Achievement Program award presented by OppenheimerFunds, Inc. The Coaches Achievement Program honors coaches at select BIG EAST member institutions for excellence in coaching, mentoring and community service.
Helmer came to Georgetown from Woodbridge High School in Virginia, where he served as head coach for four years. Prior to that, he was the head coach at Virginia High School in Bristol, Va., for eight years.
He was named Virginia Cross Country Coach of the Year in 1980 and 1983, along with being selected as the Virginia Girls' Track Coach of the Year in 1981. Topping off the honors, Helmer was selected as the Boys' Cross Country Coach of the Decade in Virginia. During his career, Helmer's teams won 45 district, 35 regional and 10 state championships. Individually, he produced nine high school All-Americans and 13 Foot Locker National Cross Country qualifiers.
Helmer is a graduate of Southwestern College in Kansas College located in Winfield, Kan., where he received a bachelor of arts in math. In October 2004, he was inducted into the Southwestern College Athletic Hall of Fame. He continued his education at East Tennessee State University, where he earned his master's degree in physical education, with a focus in biomechanics and human kinetics.
Helmer has a wife, Mary, who is a sixth-grade teacher. They have three children, Tori, 29, a high school math teacher and track coach, Justin, 26, a high school business teacher and basketball and baseball coach, and Kari, 19, a college sophomore, and recently welcomed a new granddaughter.
What They Are Saying About Ron Helmer...
"I'm excited about the hiring of Ron Helmer to direct the program. He brings with him a wealth of knowledge and a depth of experience that we haven't seen here since Sam Bell. I think he can continue the success of the program and bring it to an even higher level in the near future." - former Hoosier Olympian and All-American Bob Kennedy
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