Director of Athletics Randy Eaton did not have to look far to find a new head coach for the men’s and women’s cross country and track and field squads at Western Carolina University. Eaton announced in August the appointment of former assistant coach Cale McDaniel ’10 MAEd ’13 to lead the program. McDaniel had been serving as interim head coach after the retirement of longtime coach Danny Williamson ’84 MAEd ’86 last summer.
“There were several factors as to why Cale was clearly the person to assume the leadership of our cross country and track and field programs, but two stood out in my mind. First, immediately after announcing his retirement, former head coach Danny Williamson was adamant that Cale was the person who should be the next head coach,” Eaton said.
“Secondly, and most importantly, Cale met with over 20 members of our athletic department including head coaches, athletic trainers and athletic performance, academic and NCAA compliance staff, as well as my senior staff. To a person, everyone who met with each finalist for the position ranked Cale as the most qualified and the best person to lead the program. Rarely do I see our staff agree 100 percent on any issue, so this really struck home with me in my decision-making process,” he said.
In his role as an assistant coach, McDaniel produced five women’s Most Outstanding Field Performers of the Year, two men’s indoor Most Outstanding Field Performers of the Year, two women’s outdoor Most Outstanding Athletes, and one women’s Freshman of the Year in just six seasons. He has also led 30 student-athletes to Southern Conference individual championships, and has had 81 student-athletes earn all-conference honors.
“I’m excited to have the chance to do what a lot of people work for their entire career, which is to be the head coach of their alma mater,” said McDaniel. “I am very grateful to the WCU administration for its support and I will do my best to carry on the very successful tradition of the Catamount cross country and track and field programs.”
As both a student-athlete and an assistant coach, McDaniel has helped bring 14 Southern Conference titles back to Cullowhee, including three this past year with the men’s indoor championship, and the women’s and men’s sweep of the outdoor championships. He also helped WCU’s women’s team earn U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-Academic Track and Field Team honors every season as an assistant coach. As a student-athlete, McDaniel was a six-time All-Southern Conference performer while capturing two outdoor team titles, in 2007 and 2010, and one indoor championship, in 2008.