Mon, Jan 23 2017
LeTourneau University announced today that it is adding a new athletic program to its 13 NCAA sports, and announced the hiring of two new coaches.
Track and field will begin January 2018, which will bring the number to 15 sports that LETU will compete in at the NCAA Division III level in the American Southwest Conference.
Don Hood, who is a familiar name in Texas track and field, has been named the head men’s and women’s YellowJacket track and field coach at LETU.
Ashley Tiernan was named head volleyball coach.
“We appreciate LETU President, Dr. Dale Lunsford, and the Board of Trustees for the unique opportunity to add men's and women's track & field,” said LETU Athletic Director Terri Deike. “The last sports added to the LETU athletic department were men's and women's cross country in 2009. We are excited to have track & field student-athletes arrive on campus next fall to begin training for the competitive season beginning in January 2018.
Track & field is one of the most popular sports in the state of Texas. According to participation data from the UIL, 1,311 high schools participate in the sport with over 75,000 boys and nearly 60,000 girls competing at the high school level. Only basketball has more female participants than track & field in Texas.
Further, there were over a million high school athletes participating in track & field in 2015-16. The boys made up 591,133 competing in track & field in the United States, 485,969.
LeTourneau will be the 10th member of the ASC to sponsor outdoor track & field and just the sixth member to offer indoor. The men’s program will be the ninth Division III program in Texas while the women will be the 10th in the Lone Star state.
The addition of track & field events will also be a huge step forward for LETU’s cross country programs led by head coach Britton Koestler. The long-distance runners will now have the ability to train and compete throughout the winter and spring seasons with the addition of track & field. LeTourneau cross country had their best performances in school history at the NCAA Regional Championship Meet this past November as the women finished in 19th among 27 teams and the men finished in 15th among the field of 29 teams.
Expanding on track & field's presence in Division III, it is also worth noting that LETU will be the 274th of 443 DIII institutions nation-wide to offer men’s track & field and the 285th to sponsor a women’s program.
NEW HEAD TRACK & FIELD COACH DON HOOD
“We are very blessed to have Don Hood, a well-known Texas track & field coach, agree to head the new program. Don brings a wealth of knowledge after coaching at the high school level as well as four NCAA institutions. Don's expertise will be invaluable in establishing a successful indoor and outdoor men's and women's track & field program. He has a proven record of teaching skills and helping student-athletes achieve success. Don's character and integrity will make him a wonderful addition to the athletic department staff.”
Hood joins LeTourneau after serving as the girl’s athletic coordinator and head boys and girls track and cross-country coach at Brownwood High School since 2009. Hood’s track and cross country teams have won 9 district championships and the girls cross country team has qualified for the state meet 3 of the last 5 seasons under his direction.
Prior to Brownwood, Hood spent four seasons as the head track & field coach at Abilene Christian University. During his tenure, Hood led the Wildcat men's program to three straight NCAA Division II outdoor team championships (2006-08), and directed the women's program to the 2008 outdoor team title, the program's first team championship since winning the 2000 indoor championship. Under his direction, the Wildcat men's team won the Lone Star Conference team championship in each of his four seasons, while the women's team won the LSC title from 2006-08.
In 2008, Hood was voted the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches' Association Men's Coach of the Year.
LeTourneau will use local high school track facilities for all practice and home competitions as they begin the process of raising funds for an on-campus facility of their own.
“I am thrilled to be chosen to lead the beginning of the LeTourneau track & field program,” said Hood. “It's a rare opportunity to begin a program from scratch - to be able to lay the foundation of what will become a well-respected track and field program across the state of Texas and throughout the NCAA. It's long been a desire of mine to have this type of opportunity. Being able to do it at a quality school like LeTourneau, where we can sell the combination of a great educational and spiritual experience, makes this a can't miss opportunity.”
NEW HEAD VOLLEYBALL COACH ASHLEY TIERNAN
Also announced today was the appointment of Ashley Tiernan as the 17th head volleyball coach in LETU YellowJacket program history.
“We are very excited to welcome Ashley Tiernan to the LeTourneau University Athletic Department family,” Deike said. “She brings great knowledge of the game after seven successful years of coaching in Houston area public high schools. Ashley is very well-known and respected in the area among volleyball coaches.”
“Ashley has the ability and enthusiasm to take the LETU volleyball program to new heights. We are very pleased with Ashley's decision to join the department and move our volleyball student-athletes and program forward.”
Tiernan joins the LeTourneau athletics family after coming off her fourth season at Porter High School as the head volleyball coach. While at Porter High School, Tiernan helped turn a new program into a successful one. She led the Spartans to three consecutive playoff appearances in 2014, 2015, and 2016.
“I am extremely excited to be joining the athletics family here at LeTourneau. This opportunity has been something that I have pushed myself to get to and I could not be any happier with where God has led me,” said Tiernan. “Coaching has been a passion of mine for many years and I look forward to bringing my expertise to the collegiate level and lead the volleyball program to many years of success.”
In the 2014 season, Tiernan coached her team to a District 21-5A championship. Her team then continued on to collect bi-district and area championships before their regional appearance. At the end of the 2014 season, Tiernan was selected as the District 21-5A Coach of the Year and the All Area Coach of the Year.
In 2016, Tiernan ended her last season as head coach for the Spartans by coaching in her third playoff appearance and picking up her second bi-district championship. While at Porter, Tiernan posted a 91-52 record in four seasons and is the winningest coach in school history. Prior to her time at Porter, she also served as an assistant coach at Cypress Creek High School for two seasons and one year at Klein High School.
“Coming from Houston and being a part of the coaching community for many years has helped me build a large network of friends and colleagues at both the high school and club level,” said Tiernan about her time in Houston. “I have already had coaching friends reach out to me about athlete’s they want me to look at because they think that particular athlete would be a great fit for my program. Since I am continuing to coach club in Houston this Spring, I will have many opportunities to recruit at tournaments and practices across Houston. I feel like this is a huge advantage for me to find the best athletes for our program.”
Over the past 12 years, Tiernan has been coaching at various clubs before she arrived at TAV Houston where she currently coaches their top 15’s and 17’s teams. Her extensive knowledge of volleyball is backed by her years playing club volleyball in high school.
After high school, Tiernan received a scholarship to play at the University of Illinois at Springfield. While at UIS, she earned her bachelor’s degree in Mass Media Communication with a minor in psychology as well as her master’s degree in Interpersonal Communication.
Tiernan has East Texas ties with her parents, Ken and Cindy Wade, who reside in the Lake Jacksonville area. She will make the transition to Longview with her husband, Benjamin Tiernan.
LeTourneau University is the Christian polytechnic university in the nation where educators engage students to nurture Christian virtue, develop competency and ingenuity in their professional fields, integrate faith and work, and serve the local and global community. LETU offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs across a range of disciplines and delivery models at LETU’s residential campus in Longview, Texas, and in hybrid and fully online options at centers in Dallas and Houston.