Coaching Guilford's Track and Cross Country Teams is a Family Affair
by Colleen Gonzalez '14
Prior to 2012, Guilford College's cross country and track & field programs saw four coaches come and go. The husband and wife coaching tandem of Danny and Kimberly Cash took over in January 2012 and plans to stay for a while.
Danny Cash started as assistant coach with the team in 2010 before taking over as head coach. He is joined in his first endeavor as a college coach by his wife, Kim, who joined the Quakers' staff in August 2011 as an assistant. However she is the one who sits behind the desk of the small office they share in Alumni Gym.
Kim is always clicking away at the computer, dealing with emails or meet entries, while Danny sits adjacent to the desk, telling her who is doing what or working on his own personal laptop. At some point he'll end up saying something that causes her to turn around with a serious expression. Soon her words are coming out rapidly, spitfire, while Danny just looks at her, used to such outbursts. Finally she stops and returns to the computer but as her hand hesitates over the mouse, she quickly looks back and says with a smile, "I love you."
The pair met during police training, prior to embarking on their coaching careers. Their experience with the police force impacted their coaching styles.
"Being a police officer gives you the structured focus to be able to look at a task for what's happening now, what can happen in the future, and what the best-laid plans are for the long-term future," said Kim.
During his time as an officer, Danny assisted the track and field teams at Orange High School in Hillsborough, N.C., where his eldest son attended. When injuries forced Danny's retirement from the force, he had the opportunity to coach full time at Orange.
Danny started running in high school to condition for baseball. His success and enjoyment of the sport led to an opportunity to run collegiately for the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, followed by a short professional running stint. He ended up at Guilford when offered an assistant's position by his former college coach, Bill Cason. Kim then volunteered to take over the team at Orange High School.
Like her husband, Kim was an athlete in school and started running to get into shape for soccer season. However, once she started, she tapped into a passion for running that lives today as she loudly cheers on her students in competition and at practice.
"No matter the level of athleticism of the person, their drive and intention at Guilford, I see that; I want them to succeed wherever they are," Kim said.
Danny and Kim are not the only members of the Cash family at Guilford College. Their daughter, Emily, is in her second season as a middle distance runner. This is not the first time the Cash's have coached one of their children.
While they admit their children impact their perception of student-athletes, Danny says, "You don't get any special treatment because you're the coach's child."
However this doesn't mean they stop acting like parents. Emily says they treat everyone on the team as if they were their own children, which adds to the enjoyable atmosphere. They get angry when no one listens, offer praise when someone has done well, and help by any means necessary in times of crisis.
Oh, and don't forget the teasing. Danny and Kim need just one comment and the jokes start flying nonstop. Everyone is a target, though some more than others. It's all in good fun (except when they tease you about running a 10,000-meter race and are actually serious about it!)
The Cash's transition from assistant to head coaches was sometimes overwhelming and hectic four-month journey. They deal with new challenges every day when they enter the office and meet regularly with administrators to discuss the program, money and other key elements of a successful team. Through it all, the student-athletes remain top priority.
"For a program to be successful, (it) depends on the kids," said Danny.
The couple provides individualized workouts and always tells team members where they are, where they are headed, and how they will get there. Every morning on their hour-long commute from Alamance County, Danny and Kim hold a "staff meeting". They discuss what they have observed at practice and recent meets. They identify performance levels and develop workouts to benefit them at the next meet. (Speaking from experience, their methods really do work! Both of them have been coaching for a long time and they know what they are doing.)
Kim constantly does research and learns more and more from Danny, who has been coaching longer. They want the Quakers to succeed as a whole and make a good impression during this beginning trial period.
"We want the program to have a strong foundation and last," said Kim. "(The program) has so much potential, but we want it to be done in compliance with Guilford standards."
A husband-and-wife coaching team is not uncommon, the Cashes are one of three such tandems coaching track and cross country in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC). The dynamic interaction of the couple team is special and impacts the team's success. It also helps them establish common coaching goals.
"Coaching is like teaching," said Danny. "I think we both see the same thing. We talk about how to improve each individual athlete and it helps us work better."
It isn't always easy to work with your spouse. Kim can be brutally honest and doesn't hesitate to call Danny out when he is unreasonable or grumpy. On the other hand, Danny will fight back with her, even if he ends up being wrong and knows he is wrong.
The students on the team notice the bickering and sometimes feel they shouldn't work together for fear of getting sick of one another. While the Cashes have their spats just like any couple, it is evident they enjoy working together and wouldn't change their situation for anything.
"I wouldn't want to work without him," said Kim. "He's part of the package."
The couple sacrifices a lot of time that could be spent with their own children at home. Danny and Kim sometimes bring their two youngest children to work and to meets, but they are often left at home and cared for by someone else. The Cashes would like to spend more time with their children, but have worked out a system where one of them goes to the office for the day while the other stays home.
Just because they're not together all the time, they still remain in constant contact. Whether by text or phone call, they always know what the other is up to.
Danny and Kim average 60-hour weeks to help the team succeed. Last season's accomplishments show the couple's dedication is paying off. The track & field teams combined to set eight indoor school records and the men earned their first national ranking. The spring season saw 13 new school records, seven by the men and six by the women.
Although Guilford didn't place high at the 2012 ODAC Outdoor Track & Field Championships, the Quakers showed the hard work Danny and Kim put in. Most of the team set personal records and some set school standards.
The cross country and track and field programs are lucky to have two dedicated coaches instead of one. Each individual receives the attention they need, instead of being passed over by one set of eyes. With the continued devotion towards the program and their students, Danny and Kim will realize their goal of creating a lasting and successful program.