While coaching at Hawaii Pacific University, Austin Warner always thought that he was in paradise, until he joined the NSU athletics staff and realized that this is the real paradise.
Originally from Dyer, Indiana, track and field and cross-country Assistant Coach Warner wasn’t involved with running until his junior year of high school. It was all coincidental: Warner originally played basketball, and if he hadn’t been cut from his high school’s team, he would’ve never discovered his running talents.
“I wanted to be involved in some kind of high school sport. They didn’t have tryouts for track; they just let anyone who wanted to do it join. So I joined the track team,” said Warner.
Warner has been running ever since. His specialty is distance running.
“I didn’t want to get away from the sport because I loved it so much, so I decided to make a career out of it,” said Warner.
As the only athletic person in his family, Warner had to follow his instincts and pursue his passion.
“I’m the only runner in my family, and my family thinks I’m crazy just running in circles all day long,” said Warner.
In addition to his love for the sport, Warner’s high school and college coaches heavily influenced him to pursue a career in athletics as they were his prime examples of knowledge and passion.
Warner’s career began at Trinity Christian College in Illinois where he earned his bachelor’s in sports and exercise science. His accomplishments include being a three-time National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national qualifier in cross-country and a four-time national qualifier in track. He served as the team captain his junior and senior seasons. He also held personal bests of 14:53 minutes in the 5,000 meter and 31:59 minutes in the 10,000 meter.
Warner joined the NSU cross-country and track and field staff in the fall of 2013 where he served as a graduate assistant until he was recently named assistant coach.
When it comes to coaching, Warner is active and level-headed. He enjoys running with the athletes whenever he can. On harder work-out days, he monitors his runners by observing and evaluating how they’re doing. He finds it much easier to relate to the runners since he’s been there before.
“I don’t think yelling works in these sports; it’s more geared toward football and more aggressive sports. I also like to run with them as much as possible,” said Warner.
Winners have motivation, and everyone else wants it. Warner motivates the runners by giving examples. The best thing he likes about sports is that athletes are self-motivated, and their motivation takes care of itself.
“I make them put a little post-it note on their mirrors with a quote or their times or whatever. I also give speeches when I feel that they’re needed. It’s a long season, so we do need to keep them motivated and going,” said Warner.
Just as the players need motivation, Warner is inspired by seeing the athletes succeed.
“It’s really cool to see how a freshman grows into a sophomore or junior. Whether it’s running a personal best or getting a job after they graduate or getting on the dean’s list for a semester, I get really motivated to see it,” said Warner.
Balancing track and field and cross-country for both the men and women’s teams is not a hard task for Warner. Fortunately, cross-country and track are in different seasons.
“Cross-country is fall and track is in the spring. Once track season rolls around I pretty much work with just the distance runners who ran cross-country,” said Warner. “It also helps that we have great coaching staff where each of us tackles a different area, and in the end, every athlete gets that individualized attention they need.”
When Warner isn’t running, he’s either playing other sports at the beach or fishing.
“I can’t complain running in 70 to 80 degree weather all year long,” said Warner.
As for future goals, Warner hopes to become a head coach at either a Division I or Division II school.
“For most assistants, it’s a three to five year track to becoming a head coach. I want to stay here at NSU as long as possible, though,” said Warner.
Warner advises athletes who want to become coaches to make sure their hearts are really into it.
“If your heart isn’t into it, you’re wasting your time and the athletes’ time. You have to make sure you’re fully invested in it. Competing and coaching are two totally different things,” said Warner.