Head women’s cross-country coach Russ Jewett was named the 2019 MIAA Coach of the Year on Friday, Nov. 1. The women’s cross-country team won the MIAA Championship on Saturday, Oct. 26 in Joplin, Missouri.
Jewett is also the men’s cross-country coach and the head track and field coach.
Since Pitt State joined the MIAA in 1989, Jewett has been honored as MIAA Coach of the Year 38 times, according to Pitt State Athletics.
“Well, it’s quite an honor,” Jewett said. “I think it has almost always, if not always, gone to the coach of the team who wins the conference championship, but it does recognize, I guess, the work that goes into it from the coach’s perspective. But it’s obviously a shared thing. Ben Barrows helps me a lot, he’s our assistant distance coach. Without him, this stuff isn’t possible. And then of course the athletes. Sometimes, you get these coaching awards but really the athletes, in my case, most often make me look better than I really am probably. So, there’s some outstanding young ladies on this team that make it possible as well.”
Jewett’s focus has always been on working hard and continuing to improve the program and teams.
“Well, I don’t think I’m the smartest coach probably out there, but I like to think I work about as hard as most,” Jewett said. “So, for me it’s always been about hard work and just some of that is trial and error on stuff. But, kind of like you ask your athletes to preserve through rough times or whatever, we don’t win everything and it’s no fun to not win. But (we) try to examine what we do and get better every year as a couch and make our program better every year in some aspect one year after another. It yields success, I guess, quite often. So, (I’m) really proud of our record and I appreciate the support we get as a program and as a university athletics department from the folks in town here and the university administration.”
As for why he began coaching, Jewett has a couple of different reasons.
“… Well, I didn’t get in it for the most noble of reasons probably,” Jewett said. “… A couple of things early on (drew me to coaching). I had a great experience as a student athlete, and I had a coach who was a strong influence on me. That’s a good reason. But the other is that it’s so easy to success or failure I guess in athletics. That attracted me. And it’s become about much more than that over the years, much more than just winning or not winning. So.., that’s what got me started, I think, those two influences.”
Jewett has been part of Pittsburg State since his full-time tenure began in 1985. He became the head women’s cross-country coach in 1986, then the head men’s and women’s track & field coach in 1987, and finally became the head men’s cross-country coach in 1989.
“… The athletic, sort of, pinnacle is winning championships and so those carry some of the best memories I guess because it is a culmination of a full group effort, your team, your organization, toward that one common shared goal,” Jewett said. “Every championship we’ve won has special memories. I can’t select a certain one. But that’s where most of my best memories come from, the team championships that we’ve won.”