Halston Taylor Announces His Retirement as DAPER Establishes Cross Country and Track & Field Endowment

Head coach Halston Taylor watching a track meet at URI in 2020.
Photo by DSPics.com

Cambridge, Mass. (December 8) -- The MIT Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation (DAPER) has established the endowment for the Director of Cross Country and Track & Field Operations/Head Coach position, as announced by Dr. G. Anthony Grant, director of athletics/DAPER department head. 

In the future, the endowment fund will be named after head coach/director of track & field Halston Taylor, who is announcing that he will retire on December 11, 2021. Taylor will be on sabbatical for the 2020-21 indoor and outdoor track and field seasons before returning for his final cross country season in the fall of 2021.

"Throughout his 39-year career, Halston has made an impact on so many student-athletes and shown such a passion for his programs and striving for excellence in all areas," said Dr. Grant. "He cares very deeply for his student-athletes and that is evident in everything that he does. To have this endowment established in his honor is a fitting tribute to someone who has built such a tradition of excellence and had a positive effect on hundreds of athletes over his long career."

The first donor to help establish the endowment is Chris Schell '96, who's gift launched the fund in in honor of Coach Taylor. Schell, a 1996 graduate of MIT, was a member of the MIT track and field team who competed as a long-sprinter and middle-distance runner during his time in Cambridge.

"When I was fortunate enough to get the initial position of men's head cross country coach and men's assistant track and field coach in 1982, I had no plans, or sense of remaining at MIT for what will end up being 39 1/2 years," said Taylor. "What kept me here were myriad situations and opportunities; the fact that MIT is an excellent place to work for both me and my family, the mentorship and leadership supplied by Gordon Kelly in my early years, and the amazing opportunity to work with the best and brightest student-athletes in the world. This job never seemed like work. I truly looked forward to every workday, at least until the coronavirus."

"I was incredibly fortunate to have enjoyed the competitive success earned by our cross country and track and field teams and individuals. A great part of that success is owed to the athletic department for providing the necessary resources, the alumni for their involvement in the cross country and track and field family and the very generous donations that provides the resources necessary for running a competitive program at the highest level, and again, the wonderful student-athletes for their sacrifice (giving up on other opportunities MIT provides) and commitment to the program."

A member of the MIT staff since 1982, Taylor's teams have consistently excelled athletically and academically on a conference, regional and national level. His cross country and track and field teams have combined for 33 top-10 NCAA Championship finishes, along with 53 New England Regional Championships, 17 individual NCAA Champions and 369 All-Americans. Taylor's teams have earned 64 NEWMAC Championships, including all 22 NEWMAC men's cross country titles. He is a 45-time NEWMAC Coach of the Year, a 22-time USTFCCCA Regional Coach of the Year and his women's teams captured the NCAA Division III Deb Vercauteren Program of the Year award in both 2014-15 and 2010-11. Academically, Taylor's student-athletes have earned 12 NCAA Elite 90 awards, three CoSIDA Division III National Academic All-America of the Year honors (Maryann Gong '17 and Katie Bacher '20) and 74 CoSIDA Academic All-America accolades. In addition, Gong was named as a 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year Top 30 honoree.

"A few years ago, my wife Kathy was waiting for me at the end of a practice," said Taylor. "When it was done, she asked what would I miss about the job. It did not take much reflection to say, "the student-athletes", particularly the daily opportunity to converse and interact with them. I can say without doubt they helped me grow as a person and certainly as a coach. Of course I will miss the competitions, victories and championships as that is who I am at the most basic level, but in my growth as a person, it is the student-athletes I will never forget." 

With Coach Taylor beginning his sabbatical in December, current assistant coach Selwyn Maxwell will serve as the interim track and field head coach for the 2020-21 season. Maxwell, a two-year track and field team captain at the University of Connecticut, is in his fourth year at MIT. At UConn, he was an All-BIG EAST and All-AAC performer who won the 2013 New England Indoor Championship in the 60-meter hurdles and was a four-time NCAA East Regional qualifier in the 110-meter hurdles.

For cross country, Riley Macon will serve as the interim head coach for the men's and women's programs for the remainder of the 2020-21 academic year, while also coaching the distance runners on the track and field teams. Macon previously worked as a volunteer assistant at MIT for the 2018 cross country season and is currently an adjunct professor in the Department of Exercise Science at Middle Tennessee State University. He is a 2016 graduate of the University of Minnesota, where he was a two-time Academic All-Big Ten Cross Country Scholar-Athlete and a two-year varsity letter winner.

What is an Endowment and How Will it Impact the Program?
An endowment is a gift that is held in perpetuity and invested alongside the MIT endowment by MITIMCo, MIT's investment management company. The return on the investment provides a constant source of income for the program, thus allowing the coach to be able to plan for future needs. By establishing the Director of Cross Country and Track & Field Operations/Head Coach Endowment, the fund will provide financial support above and beyond the Institute's operational budget. 

To make a gift to this endowment, contact Candace Crabtree, Divisional Director, ALG at ccrabtre@mit.edu or 617-715-2838.

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