Rod Zook has been hired as the new head coach of the Hutchinson Community College cross country teams, HCC Athletic Director Randy Stange announced on Monday.
Zook becomes the fourth head coach in Blue Dragon men’s history and the third women’s head coach in that program’s history.
Zook brings a wealth of running experience to the Blue Dragon program.
The new Blue Dragon cross country coach has been around the cross country/track and field program for several seasons working with the distance runners. Zook also has international experience running at the World Masters Track and Field Championships in 2007.
“With Rod’s experience and passion for running, I am excited for our cross country program,” Stange said. “Rod has a tremendous insight into the art of running and our athletes are going to benefit greatly from his experiences.”
Zook’s passion has also helped the Blue Dragon cross country teams find a permanent home.
During the summer of 2011, Zook was one of the point people – in a joint effort with the Buhler school district – who helped locate and secure a home course for HCC cross country. The course is located near Westar Energy in Northeast Hutchinson. The Blue Dragons will run their first meet on the new course this season.
“It’s been great getting the course put together and we are excited about having a home course and being able to host meet,” Zook said. “It’s been great being a part of the programs. I am looking forward to getting the kids back in here and getting the new kids in here to get going.”
During his two years as the Blue Dragon assistant, Zook helped guide the 2010 women’s team to the NJCAA National Championships. Both men’s and women’s teams participated at nationals in 2011.
There are three things Zook will expect from his Blue Dragon teams.
“I tell the kids be calm and confident and then to be accountable for themselves,” Zook said. “The sophomores have heard that a lot and the freshmen will hear it.
“It is an attitude. You have to be able to have that proper attitude. If you go out and you are aren’t confident or ready to run your best, you are going to get eaten up and we don’t want that.”
Zook brings more than 30 years of running experience with him and is often be seen running with the track team during practice.
The highlight of Zook’s running career came in 2007 when he participated in the World Masters Track and Field Championships in Riccione, Italy as a member of the USA master track team.
Zook is still a member of USA Track and Field and continues to participate in numerous events.
“I am a person who believes in being prepared. You have to prepare mentally and physically. If you practice or prepare poorly, you will race poorly.”
Zook is a graduate of Cloud County Community College where he earned a degree in communications and competed for the Thunderbird cross country and track teams.
Zook and is wife, Debbie, have three children: Kirk, 25; Todd, 24; and Lesa, 21. Rod has three grandchildren.
He will continue to serve as the news director at KWBW radio in Hutchinson.
(HCC Sports Information)