Coaches Corner

with Heather Wade

1. Give us a background of how you got into coaching XC and/or Track & Field.


I grew up in Pea Ridge and after coaching in Missouri for two years decided it was time to come back home! I love being a Blackhawk and giving back to the community! When I was hired at Pea Ridge I was initially coaching softball and basketball.  There was even a year when I was the head girls softball, basketball, and volleyball coach.  Once I started a family,I knew I wanted to remain in coaching but try to cut back on the time I was away from home on a nightly basis.  This is when my coaching journey for my current roles began to take shape and I have never looked back!  Initially, the Jr high girls track position became open and I was fortunate enough to get that position and that eventually led to taking the Sr. high girls track position along with the Jr high and High school girls cross country teams.  This past year I took over the Jr. High and High school boys cross country teams as well.  



2. What inspires you to continue coaching the sport?



I have found that many times high school athletes, especially in the sport of track and field, just need someone to be a champion for them and help them to believe they can achieve more than they ever thought possible. I love helping kids believe in themselves and helping them step out of their comfort zone and try new things.  I love the look on their faces or the tone in their voice when they succeed. Also, building a lasting relationship with each of my athletes is very important! This keeps me going the most and it is such a joy when they come back and visit. These things make it more than coaching a sport.



3. Give us a memory that has stuck with you through the years.


I would say winning the first girls track and field state title in school history would be among my most cherished memories. It was an experience I will never forget. Watching the expressions on my athletes faces and seeing how they all competed and gave it their al was something as a coach I will never forget. It was great to see the school district and community support these young ladies' hard work and success!


4. What differences have you seen in the program since you've been HC?


The biggest difference is Pea Ridge was able to provide us a track and an hour during the day to practice. It has been a great help in building the program.  As a program our staff has grown which has been an important factor in our programs success as well.  Also the number of athletes that come out for track and field has grown tremendously over the years.  




5. What's your take on the direction of High School XC and/or Track & Field in Arkansas?


Over the years it has become more and more competitive.  In our part of the state, other programs are growing as well which has increased the level of competition across the board at all of the area meets.  Good competition pushes good athletes to continue to work hard and improve their skills, so it has been very enjoyable for me to see the growth of our sport in our area. 



Track -

2013 Jr high Girls 1-4A Conference Champs

2018, 2019 and 2020 AR state Indoor Champions

2018, 2019 and 2021 4A state Outdoor Champions

2014,2015, 2016, 2018, 2019.2021 1-4A Conference Champs


2016 and 2017 Jr High Girls 1-4A Conference Champs

2020  Boys Cross Country 4A State Champs

2020- high school boy and girls 1-4A Conference Champs

2020 jr high boys conference champs


Athlete Accomplishments

10- athletes signed college scholarships to run in college

2- indoor state records

2 - outdoor state records

15-outdoor 4A state individual Champions

19- indor 4A state individual Champions

Cassidy Mooneyhan broke the indoor and outdoor 4A pole vault records and was named 2020 Gatorade Player of the year

Blakelee Winn broke the 4A 300h record this past season, was selected AR Preps Athlete of the year, 2021 ALL-NWADG GIRLS TRACK Athlete of the year and 2018 ALL-NWADG GIRLS TRACK Girls Newcomer of the Year 


Coaching Accomplishments


2018-2019 NFHS Ar Girls Outdoor track and field Coach of the Year

2019 Ar High School Coaches Association Outstanding Coach of the Year

2018 Us Track & Field and Xc Coaches Association AR  Coach of the Year

2014,2015,2016,2018,2019,2021 1-4A Conference Coach of the Year 

2016 Hydration Hero award

Cross country-

2020 Ar High School Coaches Association Outstanding Boys Cross Country Coach of the Year

2020 1-4A Boys and Girls Conference Coach of the year 

2020-2021 All Arkansas preps Boys Cross Country Coach of the year


Years Coaching 17 year in coaching and 7 years as the high school girls track coach,  7 years Girls cross country coach, 1 year Boys Cross country coach 

Coaches Corner

with Rod Ray

1. Give us a background of how you got into coaching XC and/or Track & Field.

That is a round-a-bout story.  I did not go into education when I went to college after high school. I started college as an engineering major, after 2 years I left college  and went to work with my family building and running a feed mill.  I was at the mill for 5 years.  I coached as a volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club during that time.  I had been thinking about going back to college when my wife, who was a computer programmer, got a job offer in NWA so she took it and I went back to school.  We moved late spring of 1986 so I worked the first summer we were there before school started back in fall.  During this time I felt God was leading me into education (I had greatly enjoyed working with the kids at the Boys and Girls Club) so when fall came I enrolled and my major was Physical Education and with a few extra math/science classes to go along with the ones I had taken as an engineering student, I also certified to teach math/science. 

2. What inspires you to continue coaching the sport?

The success of students and athletes while they are in school and after they graduate. It is a great joy when you hear how so many former athletes attribute their success in life to learning work ethic and discipline while in athletics.

3. Give us a memory that has stuck with you through the years.

My first CC season.  We did not have CC at Van Buren when I got there.  We moved into the largest classification my second year at VB.  I was a volunteer coach in track with Coach Dennis Pendergrass, we competed well in the sprints and jumps but did not have many distance runners.  We talked about me starting CC and since I was not coaching football in the fall it would be a good fit for me to start a CC program.  Looking back makes me laugh, like most in small schools in the 70's I was a multi-sport guy and ran track but trained only during the season.  I had to not only figure out how to train runners for CC but I had never even seen a CC race.  Looking back, I am surprised we even found meets to go to and actually got entered into the state meet correctly, things were so different back then.

4. What differences have you seen in the program since you've been HC?

Meet management for both CC and Track.  The good old days were not so good when it came to accuracy in timing/measurement, equipment and facilities.

The depth of quality competition, there has always been those exceptional athletes who would have great performances but you did not have the depth of quality performance you see now, I see it in both CC and Track but I think more so in CC.  

The competitiveness of girls distance running has also grown really fast since about the time we switched to 5k.

5. What's your take on the direction of High School XC and/or Track & Field in Arkansas?

I believe we have made choices that have improved the sport.  I may not have always agreed with all the changes that have been made but I see we are in a better place now than we ever have been.  

I am concerned with future numbers in our sport as I see more and more young people who say they want to be good at something but as the level of commitment for them to be competitive goes up  they decide that there are easier things to pursue. I guess you could say that work ethic has declined for a larger percent than there used to be.


In XC we won a girls State Championship in 2010 and a Boys State Runnerup in 2006.

In track we have never won a team title but we have had a lot of individual state champions.

23 individual state champions and 7 meet of champs winners.

Past Coaches Corner Interviews:
Steve Oury
Jeff Haynes
J. Lindsey
Drew Yaokum
Ricky Hicks

Michael Humphrey
Chance Tanner

Andrew Chasteen

Randy Bryan

Chris Beavert

BJ Parish

John Mackey

Heather Wade

Roy Ray

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