Barry McNamara  |   Published January 31, 2023

Honoring Haynes

Longtime Fighting Scots track and field coach to be honored Feb. 11 with the Roger Haynes Invitational.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – During his four-decade career coaching Monmouth College track and field and cross country, Roger Haynes took his squads to a number of meets with names like the Les Duke Invitational at Grinnell College and the Lee Calhoun Invitational at Western Illinois University.

AMONG NATION'S BEST: Roger Haynes poses with the NCAA trophy his team earned in 2007 for plac... AMONG NATION'S BEST: Roger Haynes poses with the NCAA trophy his team earned in 2007 for placing third in the nation. That same year, he was named Men's Indoor National Coach of the Year.Now, in his first year since 1982-83 of not serving as head coach of at least one of those Fighting Scots teams, the 1982 Monmouth graduate will have the opportunity to attend another named meet – the Roger Haynes Invitational.

The home track and field meet will be held Feb. 11 at Monmouth’s Huff Athletic Center. The six-team event will begin at 10:45 a.m. At 11:45 a.m., the national anthem will be played, followed by a ceremony for Haynes, listing some of his many coaching accomplishments and his lasting imprint on the Midwest Conference. The MWC will be represented at the meet by Beloit College and its longtime coach, Brian Bliese, who also coached against Haynes when Bliese was at another league school, Carroll University.

Sneakers

“It came about after some sneakiness from Coach (Brian) Woodard,” said Haynes of his longtime assistant coach, who took over the track programs last summer after Haynes announced his retirement from coaching. “He didn’t include me in the process.”

“It was maybe a little bit sneaky, I guess,” conceded Woodard, who said he originally bounced the idea off of former Fighting Scot athlete and coach Jon Welty. “We kind of took it and ran with it. My intent was to find a way to get alumni back to campus and to showcase some of the history of the program that he built.”

“Track and field has been a huge part of his life for all his life, and to honor him in this way is more meaningful than simply giving him a plaque.” Brian Woodard

Witnessing that history will be nearly two dozen track recruits who’ve scheduled campus visits for the day.

A track and field homecoming

But the most special guests will be the 100-plus former Fighting Scot athletes who have registered to attend, with graduation dates spanning from 1985 to 2022. Following the approximate 6 p.m. conclusion of the invitational, they’re also invited to a post-meet event at the Monmouth American Legion.

Woodard also helped organize the latter event, as well as an online store that will sell apparel emblazoned with “Roger Haynes Invitational.”

“Track and field has been a huge part of his life for all his life, and to honor him in this way is more meaningful than simply giving him a plaque,” said Woodard. “Relationships were a huge part of his coaching career, and they still are. He’s still passing on his knowledge to other Monmouth coaches, myself included.”

“It’s more about spending time with the alums who are coming back for it. They’ve all enriched my life and made this kind of career possible.” Roger Haynes

Asked what it feels like to have a meet named for himself, Haynes replied, “I really haven’t thought about it that way.” Rather, he said, “It’s an opportunity for kids to come to Monmouth and to compete at the great facility we have in the Huff Center.”

Haynes said he’s looking forward to seeing many of the athletes he coached over the past 40 years.

“It’s more about spending time with the alums who are coming back for it,” he said. “They’ve all enriched my life and made this kind of career possible.”

Alumni, said Haynes, such as 1986 classmates Eric Ealy and Roger Well, who were on the first team that Haynes coached in 1984.

“Without that group of guys buying in, maybe this whole thing doesn’t even happen,” said Haynes, who has continued his role as Monmouth’s director of athletics, recreation and fitness. “It’s going to be kind of a once-in-a-lifetime day.”

Ealy was a national champion high jumper, and at least two other national champs – hurdler Blake Boma and pole vaulter Dan Evers – are expected to return to campus for the meet.

A sterling résumé

The buy-in that Haynes inspired led to more than 200 student-athletes earning All-American honors while competing for him. The Scots had at least one All-American every season from 1985 – Haynes’ second season in charge of the men’s team – through 2021.

Competing as a team at the national level, the Fighting Scots finished in the top four of the NCAA four times, with a high of second place at the 2008 men’s indoor championships. Haynes oversaw 23 teams that finished in the top 20 nationally.

In 2007, he was named the U.S. Track and Field Coaches Association Men’s Indoor National Coach of the Year, and he was named the Midwest Region Coach of the Year four times, most recently in 2016.

“Pick your legendary coach – Pat Summitt, Geno Auriemma, Tara VanDerveer, Vince Lombardi, Gregg Popovich – that’s Roger Haynes in NCAA Division III track and field,” said Monmouth President Clarence Wyatt on the occasion of Roger’s retirement from coaching.

At the Midwest Conference level, Haynes’ achievements are staggering. Leading the Scots at his final conference meet last May, he was named MWC Track and Field Coach of the year for the 53rd time following a conference championship by his women’s team, which he coached for 22 years. He led the men’s team for 39 seasons.

His teams won either an indoor or outdoor men’s or women’s Midwest Conference championship – many years, all four championships – each year from 2001 to 2022. In all, he coached the Scots to a combined 83 men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field conference titles.

Listen Up …

On “Monmouth College Conversations” podcast, Director of Athletics, Recreation & Fitness Roger Haynes ’82 and Director of Track & Field and Cross Country, Strength and Conditioning Coach Brian Woodard ’97 discuss track and field and the upcoming inaugural Roger Haynes Invitational.

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