Pinkerton takes reins of cross-country, track

by Abby Fergusson
Sports Editor

The Transylvania athletics department has a history of having a strong coaching staff, and this year is no different.

Heidi Pinkerton begins her fourth year of Division III coaching as the new head coach of cross-country and track.

Another recent addition to the Pioneers staff is head cross-country and track coach Heidi Pinkerton.

The Greensboro, N.C., native comes from an experienced cross-country background. At the collegiate level, Pinkerton was a captain for both her track and cross-country teams. She also earned All-Southern Conference in 2003 and 2004. Pinkerton holds the steeplechase record for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Before her time at Transy, Pinkerton had been the head cross-country and assistant track coach at Guilford College since 2008. She was also the assistant cross-country coach from 2006-2007.

At Guilford Pinkerton helped develop a premier program that went from sixth to second in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference and produced two NCAA Division III All-Region performers in 2009-2010. She also helped the men’s cross-country program to a second-place conference showing in 2010.

As she enters her fourth year of coaching at the Division III level, Pinkerton aims to make Transy a threat outside the Heartland Conference.

“Within the next few years I want to make the program competitive within the conference, then become competitive in the region,” said Pinkerton. “We are on the right path — just have to bring in key recruits that will help with this transition.”

Pinkerton felt that she needed to experience more and saw that Transy was a good place to start.

“I was looking for new opportunities, and when I came to Transy for my interview, I loved that everyone that I met was very friendly. I also like the small atmosphere within the city,” said Pinkerton.

Pinkerton’s career began in her freshman year of high school after receiving encouragement from the cross-country coach. This encouragement led to a successful first year of running.

“(The coach) got me to come out halfway through the season and I ended up going to state my freshman year and I fell in love with it,” said Pinkerton. “I ended up dropping soccer and basketball and just focused on running. He saw something in me that I didn’t see, and he was right.”

Throughout the years, Pinkerton’s coaches have influenced her and made her the kind of runner she is today. She considers her track coach in high school as a “second mom” who also helped with her college decisions. She still keeps in touch with her college coach, who has been a guiding voice in her coaching career.

“He has helped me a lot and answered my questions,” said Pinkerton. “When I first got into coaching I went to him, and he has been really helpful and is my biggest mentor. His program, where I used to run, has bloomed.”

Running has helped create a bond between Pinkerton and her friends. With this bond they will take on a half marathon.

“I am doing a half marathon in March with three of my college buddies. It’s the Rock ’n’ Roll Half Marathon down in New Orleans,” said Pinkerton. “I’m starting to train for that right now. I’m coming off a six-month hamstring injury, so I’m just starting to rebuild my base.”

Throughout the years Pinkerton and her “buddies” have used running as a way of keeping in touch.

“We were really good friends in college and we all ran together,” Pinkerton said. “We raced our senior year and after we graduated we did the Coon Dog Day (five-kilometer race) up in the mountains of North Carolina. It was really fun, so we’re trying to get together again.”

Pinkerton wants her athletes to push themselves as runners and understands the importance of keeping the right state of mind.

“Being a runner you have to be disciplined, not only in running, but in life,” said Pinkerton. “Running has more of a mental aspect to it. Especially with cross-country, you have to be able to believe you can do it.”

“This year’s teams are dedicated and I want to help develop the program into a competitive one,” Pinkerton said.

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