by NICK ALVARADO//Sports Editor
During the summer, being the head coach of a championship-pedigree program such as South Plains College didn’t cross the mind of Erik Vance.
On Aug. 12, that changed, as Vance was named the head track and field coach for the Texans and Lady Texans.
“I was suprised to start with,” Vance said. “I didn’t anticipate it a year and month ago that I was going to be the new head track coach here. I came out here to be an assistant. I was excited, nervous, lots of different feelings, not necessarily overwhelmed but knew there was a lot to be done and just, probably more than anything, just the timing of it, being that close to the start of school.”
Vance takes over the program after Chris Beene stepped down to enter private business, after having 12 successful seasons. During his stint, he collected 32 NJCAA national titles in indoor and outdoor track and field championships, cross country and half-marathon. Vance played a vital role in the SPC men winning the national title last season, which was the unprecedented 10th consecutive outdoor track and field title for the SPC men.
Vance says that being alongside Beene last season made an impact on his coaching career.
“I learned a lot last year from him,” Vance said. “When you build a program as much as he had, you’re obviously doing some things right.”
Vance, a Panhandle native, came to SPC from Louisiana-Monroe University, where he coached for five years. He coached both vertical and horizontal jumpers and multi-event athletes during that period.
When Vance started his coaching career, LSU horizontal and vertical jump coach Todd Lane influenced and taught Vance to become a coach, and, more importantly, he taught him a different perspective of the sport.
“He really took me under his wing and taught me a lot,” Vance said. “He taught me a lot about coaching, training, also taught me a lot about dealing with athletes and handling with stuff.”
This season, Vance has have high expectations for both the men’s and women’s teams cross country and track and field.
“As far as I’m concerned, that’s the goal every year at South Plains,” Vance said. “We’re trying to win national championships, and I think we have teams that have the talent and are capable of doing that, both on the men’s and women’s side.”