Clarksville, Ark.-University of the Ozarks Athletics Director Jimmy Clark announced the hiring of veteran NCAA Division III coach Heidi Pinkerton as the new Head Women's and Men's Cross Country and Track Coach.
"We are fortunate to hire an outstanding coach like Coach Pinkerton," said Clark. "She improved the programs at each of her previous institutions. One of her strengths is that she will get the most out of our runners. And, her ability to relate to the student-athletes will benefit recruiting."
Pinkerton was the head cross country and track coach at Transylvania University from 2011-2017 where she helped the women's and men's track programs to unprecedented heights. The 2017 season saw the women's program post its highest finish ever at the conference championships, while the men's program earned the most points in program history. In women's and men's cross country, Pinkerton consistently improved the team scoring at the conference championships. Prior to her stint at Transylvania, Pinkerton was the head cross country coach and assistant track coach at Guilford College, helping the men's cross country program to a second-place finish at the conference championships in 2010. On the women's side, all of her cross country runners set personal records by the end of the 2010 season.
"I am really excited to be a part of the cross country and track programs at University of the Ozarks," said Pinkerton. "I just want to build on the success already established here and further the program's potential. I want to continue moving up in the conference and winning more events at the conference championships. It is exciting that the men's team is a really young group. On the women's side, I like the challenge of building the numbers and advancing within the conference."
During her successful tenure at Transylvania, Pinkerton took over a track program that finished in last place at the conference championships and built it into a competitive program. She had a combined 17 conference individual indoor champions and 11 conference individual outdoor champions over five seasons. Four of her track athletes won Athlete of the Meet. In her final season at Transylvania, Pinkerton's women's team set three indoor and six outdoor school records and her men's team established six indoor and eight outdoor records. One of her women's runners has the second fastest 6k cross country time in program history with six others ranking among the top-13. On the men's side, one of her runners has the fourth fastest 8k cross country time while five others are among the top-15. Additionally, her teams earned the USTFCCCA Academic award four straight seasons and she coached a pair of All-Region cross country runners and one national qualifier at Transylvania.
"I want my athletes to know how to achieve goals," she said. "I want to instill confidence in them. A strong program has to have strong direction. And, getting the athletes to buy into a training program is key. This is a very discipline-driven sport. Doing the extra things like weight training, monitoring nutrition, getting enough sleep and stretching will result in success. I feel like one of my strengths is the ability to build athletes and get them stronger and faster."
At Guilford, she helped three individuals win conference track championships in just the second year of the program's existence. She had one individual cross country conference champion, two individual indoor conference champions and two individual outdoor conference champions.
"She knows how to win as an athlete and a coach," said Clark. "She understands the NCAA Division III aspect. She understands we want student-athletes who are good ambassadors and students first. Her niche is distance running. She has had a tremendous amount of success in that area."
Pinkerton looks forward to talking about Ozarks to potential student-athletes.
"This is a stunning campus in a fantastic location for outdoor activities," she said. "It is a very welcoming campus. It felt like home when I arrived. And, I believe everyone is unified in working together to accomplish the same goal. I appreciated how President Dunsworth knew the athletes. We have a home cross country course, and not everyone has that."
A native of Millers Creek, North Carolina, Pinkerton ran at NCAA I University of North Carolina at Greensboro earning All-Conference cross country honors in 2003 and 2004. At the time of her graduation, Pinkerton held the school records in steeplechase, indoor 5k and indoor and outdoor 3k.
She received her bachelor's degree in nutrition and wellness from University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2007. She has a master's degree in coaching education from Ohio University. She and her husband Norman have one child, Miles.
Pinkerton replaces Jeremy Provence, who accepted the head job at NCAA I University of North Alabama in April.