Drury University announced this week the hiring of Brad Hamman as the next Head Coach of the Panthers’ Triathlon Team. Hamman was a former Record Holder and Missouri Valley Conference Champion in the 200 Backstroke during his 1994-97 seasons with the Missouri State Bears, and after graduation transitioned to triathlon. He has since become a known entity in the local triathlon community having competed consistently for the last ten years in over 100 multi-sport events, including three full-distance Iron Man Triathlons. He serves as the President of the Ozarks Multi-Sport Club and has been an active USAT Level 1 coach, working with local groups in many capacities. Hamman will be joined by Doug Fredrick, whose standout career in Track & Field at the University of Missouri- Kansas City from 1997-2000 also transitioned to multi-sport events after graduation.
When Triathlon was named an “Emerging Sport” by the NCAA in 2014, Drury was one of only eight schools selected to receive the inaugural Women’s Triathlon Emerging Sport Grant, awarded by the USA Triathlon Foundation, which helped them to begin the program for the 2015-16 season. The NCAA and USA Triathlon are working together in an effort to bring the sport to Championship status at the collegiate level. Hamman told SwimSwam that while there is no official season set for the emerging NCAA sport, Drury plans to split their 144 contact days into two seasons, competing in six events over the Fall and Spring. The women will compete in the USAT Women’s Collegiate Regional Qualifiers, with the season ending at a culminating National Championship in November. Then in the Spring, the men and women will focus on the Club Collegiate Nationals.
The Panthers have already developed a great example of success in triathlon before the program even started, as swimming All-American Erin Dolan earned a spot on Team USA after graduating from Drury. Long-time Drury Swimming Coach Brian Reynolds encouraged Dolan to give running a try when her swimming eligibility was completed, which led her to finish 43rd at Cross Country Nationals and 17th in the 10,000 meter at Track & Field Nationals in NCAA Division II, and inspired the transition to multi-sport events quickly after. Reynolds told SwimSwam, “I would love to see the sport of Triathlon grow, not just at Drury but within our conference and all through the NCAA. It is a great option.”
Hamman pointed out that this will be a year with a primary focus on recruiting, and that they are looking for “athletes experienced in triathlon, as well as eligible high school athletes with a swimming or running background who can cross over, and athletes who have completed their four years of eligibility and want to claim a fifth year in a sport they haven’t yet competed. We are looking for people who love triathlon and want to see what they can do.”