Bringing new talent to the track

By: Cody Boteler, Senior Editor

Mike Jackson, formerly of Ramapo College in New Jersey, has replaced Roger Erricker as head coach of the women’s cross country and track teams.

“My goal is to find ways for our student-athletes to be successful,” Jackson said.

Before Jackson, Erricker had served as head coach for nearly 30 years. According to his LinkedIn page, Erricker started the position in August 1985. His time ended in May 2015.

“The bottom line was that my contract was not renewed,” Erricker said. “I retired after 30 years.”

Erricker said that he wasn’t ready to leave the position.

Assistant Athletic Director Antwaine Smith said that he could not comment on the circumstances surrounding Erricker leaving the position, as it was a personnel issue. Athletic Director Tim Leonard could not be reached for comment due to scheduling conflicts.

Erricker is listed as a part-time faculty member in the Department of Kinesiology.

“It’s nice that after 30 years I’m not just out the door,” he said.

Erricker said that he and “the athletic director” had different goals or visions for the program, but did not go into any specifics.

“The sad thing is leaving the athletes that are currently there, the ones that I recruited,” Erricker said. “That’s the tough part, leaving them behind.”

Jackson comes to Towson with a notable record. The United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association has twice named him (Atlantic region) “Women’s Head Coach of the Year.” He has been named “Coach of the Year”  seven times by the New Jersey Athletic Conference.

“We were lucky to get him, honestly,” Smith said.

Michelle Vanagas, a member of both the track and cross country teams, said that Jackson is “a lot more involved” as a coach.

“A lot of us are accepting the changes pretty well, it’s definitely going to be an adjustment because the demands are a lot higher,” she said.

Vanagas also said that one of the good things about Jackson is that “he’s got super super positive energy.”

Jackson said that he and the teams have “hit the ground running.”

“[The student athletes] study hard and don’t accept a B or a C, so we want to put that forward and not accept a C effort in cross country,” Jackson said.

Jackson’s history with running started in high school, where he was a sprinter for the track team. He moved on to Northeastern University, in Boston, where he competed in meets for his team.

Until his recent move to Towson, Jackson had been at Ramapo since 2004. Jackson said he had to lead his team in a meet within three weeks of getting hired.

Jackson said that he wasn’t really planning on leaving Ramapo, but “things just worked out.”

“It’s a great place, very welcoming. It’s a place that I think is a major staple in the community,” Jackson said. “When I wear Towson gear around, people definitely talk to me and ask me what I’m doing there.”

Jackson said that one of his goals for the teams is “to be better in everything we do.”

“Towson is a very attractive institution, and we want to make our program attractive,” he said.

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