The Eldon cross country program will be under new leadership this fall as David Norman has been called upon to lead the Mustang long-distance runners.

The Eldon cross country program will be under new leadership this fall as David Norman has been called upon to lead the Mustang long-distance runners. With a new season just around the corner, Norman took some time to talk about his new role:

Q: Are there any specific reasons why you were compelled to chose Eldon and do you have any past ties with the school?

A: I was raised in Jefferson City, and while I've spent a healthy chunk of my career in southwest Missouri, I learned that Eldon has a gained quite the reputation over the last several years in terms of both academics and athletics. I saw an opportunity to coach a team with some great potential, dedicated athletes and strong values so I took it.

Q: Can you briefly summarize your background and what made you want to be a coach in the first place?

A: I ran track and cross country in high school and joined the Army following graduation. I served in the 82nd Airborne Division for several years then enrolled at Missouri State where I received my Bachelors in Education. My former school district wanted a cross country program and I had the unique opportunity to create it and lead it because of my running experience in high school. Really, what caused me to be a coach was student interest. There was a need within the district for someone to oversee a new running program because we had students who desired it, and that was enough for me so I took the job. Obligatory "no pun intended," the first year we "hit the ground running" and qualified three boys for the state competition, and the next year we qualified two females and our entire boys team for state. Coaching has given me the chance to celebrate the success of my students outside of the classroom and that's (really) the best part of it. An educator coaches to see the kids find glory through knowledge, hard work and perseverance in a fair, but spirited and competitive environment.

Q: Taking over a new program, do you have a philosophy or certain set of expectations for all of your runners? Essentially, what does it take to be a good coach and leader of a program?

A: “Smarter, Better, Faster, Stronger.” The first one is mine, Daft Punk can claim the rest, but that's essentially it. There's beauty in a simple philosophy because it's accessible to each and every athlete on the team. You don't "try" to be better, you just do. Go be the number one because why not? Run smarter, better, faster, and stronger than the person next to you.

Q: Do you have any overall impressions of your new group so far and are there any definite strengths or weaknesses at this point in time?

A: My initial impression is that one of our definite strengths exist in a great track program. My runners didn't show up to summer practices cold or out of shape and that's a testament to our athletics department as a whole. We're in a good place right now and I have every intention of building upon that foundation.

Q: With a new season just around the corner, are there any specific goals or keys to success?

A: I can help these kids to be good, but they're going to have to want to be great. However, I can also vouch that my runners are already great kids. Therefore, we'll see you at state in November.