By Endesha Robinson/FAMU Sports Information Intern
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Nov.11) – Since bringing her talents to FAMU in 2009, Darlene Moore, Ed.D. has been a sparkplug for the restoration of FAMU’s storied track programs. Walking in the large size shoes of legendary track coaches Robert “Pete” Griffin and Bobby Lang, Moore has returned FAMU’s track program to relevance in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Named the director of track and field at FAMU in 2016, Moore has rejuvenated a program that spent a few years trying to find itself back to championship caliber. During her tenure, she has won eight MEAC championships (six cross country and two outdoor track and field), nurtured several NCAA regional competitors and guided a quartet of NCAA All-Americans.
“When I took the job at FAMU, I promised to bring the best and the brightest to the highest of seven hills. So far, I feel we’ve been able to do just that,” Moore said. Assuming both the men’ and women’s teams last season under the popular combined format, the resurgence in the men’s program is evident in the recent successes of the men’s cross country team.
The women’s cross country team won their record sixth consecutive championship in Dover, Del., in October. Moore almost pulled off a clean sweep. With a men’s team poised and leading the championship 8K race, FAMU’s No.3 runner stepped on uneven terrain and injured himself. Continuing to try to run, Moore made the decision to pull the runner as not to induce any permanent damage. The runner was diagnosed with a hairline fracture. With that injury, the hopes of a sweep of both cross country championships diminished. Moore took the loss with difficulty, knowing that it is not easy to get in the position to win consecutive MEAC championships.
“Watching one of your athletes falter at that point was surely difficult. I had to make the mature coaching decision to pull him off the course, ending all hopes of a championship. In the end, I feel confident that I made the correct decision,” Moore said.
With MEAC Outstanding Player David Too, who won medalist honors as the first runner to finish, the men’s cross country team made significant strides. Coming off a ban on postseason participation due to academic issues, Moore has instituted her high standards of academics on all track and field athletes.
“I am true to my education background. There is no doubt that the education of my student athletes if the first priority. Student is first in student athlete for a reason. FAMU is an educational institution first. Our sports teams are here to enhance the student experience and instill pride in our prestigious university,” Moore concluded.
Her success on the field has garnered her several awards along the way. Most recently, HBCU Digest named her Female Coach of the Year in 2015. This weekend, she will be honored by the National Rattler “F” Club in a ceremony in Orlando, Fla. Moore comes to FAMU after making the Albany State Sports Hall of Fame as an athlete. Fromthere she began her stellar college career as a coach at Fort Valley State, where she won several SIAC Championships. Her next stop was Albany State, where she took over her alma mater’s track and field program and took it to new heights. It was then that she set her sights on becoming the head track coach at FAMU.
“As a coach at Abany State, we would compete every year in the FAMU Relays. It was doing this time that I began to see FAMU as my dream job. In taking the job in 2009, I probably put more pressure on myself than anyone else did. Knowing coach Lang, there was no way I could let him down. His support of me and my program since my arrival has meant the world to me. That gentleman is a living legend and learning from him was an honor. Now, because of our successes, when my name, in some cases, is called in the same sentence with his as successful FAMU coaches, it is beyond words. It definitely represents a pinnacle in my career,” moore said.
The National Rattler “F” Club will hold it’s annual gala on Fri., Nov. 17 at the Sea World Hilton Doubletree Hotel. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased from Curtis Taylor, president of the National Rattler “F Club, by calling (850)251-3025 or by going online to Ticketmaster.com. Other honorees for the event are Greg Coleman (Football), Larry Robinson, Ph.D. (Interim President), LTC Gregory Clark (Baseball), Roy Moore (Supporter), Vaughn Wilson (Football) and Thomas Jones Jr (Chairman FAMU Foundation).