JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 10, 2019) – The ETSU track and field team introduced 25 newcomers over the last three weeks with three installments of “ETSU Track and Field Thursdays.”
With the final Thursday before the season opening meet this weekend, the program will introduce its five coaches who will lead the program this season.
Meet the Coaching Staff:
George Watts — Director of Track and Field/Cross Country
Entering his seventh season at the helm for ETSU and 33rd season overall, George Watts has track and field experience across the board. A 1983 graduate of the University of Tennessee, Watts carried over a successful athletic career on the track into an outstanding coaching career, spending 26 seasons at his alma mater as an assistant coach, an assistant head coach, head coach of the men’s cross country team and associate head coach for track and field.
Under his watch, ETSU has broken 26 records in indoor and outdoor track and field events, excluding repeated records. Watts has also coached a number NCAA national qualifiers and All-Americans with the Bucs — most recently last year’s indoor weight throwing qualifier Ben Johnson, outdoor 100 meter hurdles national qualifier Kyra Atkins and cross country national qualifier Ben Varghese — the first distance runner to qualify on the XC side since Watts took over in 2012.
Watts has been honored numerous times for his coaching efforts, including recognition by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) as the Mideast Region Male Assistant Coach of the Year in distances, South Region Coach of the Year for cross country in 2002 and South Region Co-Coach of the Year in 2001. He also won District III Coach of the Year honors in 1995.
Other notable athletes Watts has worked with includes Anthony Famiglietti, as well as other Olympic, World and USA ranked athletes. Prior to his Olympic appearances, Famiglietti won the 2002 USA outdoor title and 2001 World University Games under Watts' instruction. He directed Jebreh Harris to a third-place finish at the U.S. Outdoor Championships in 2006 and also mentored Harris who ran the first leg on the American-record breaking 4x800 relay team in 2006. Watts also worked with Tennessee alum Todd Williams – a 1992 and 1996 Olympian, and 10,000m school record- holder – during his professional career.
Hassaan Stamps — Assistant Coach/Recruiting Coordinator (Sprints, Hurdles and Relays)
A protégé of Watts and also a former Tennessee Volunteer standout, Hassaan Stamps has 19 seasons of overall coaching experience and six on staff with the Buccaneers. Over his time at ETSU working with sprinters, hurdlers and relays, Stamps has not only helped coach a multitude of athletes to conference championships and NCAA regional qualifiers, but has also had a keen eye for talent as the program’s recruiting coordinator.
One of the veteran assistants’ most recent successful athletes was ETSU standout Katrina Seymour, who advanced to the NCAA national championships in Eugene, Oregon, with a ETSU school record and Bahamian national record in the 400 meter hurdles, earning first team All-American status.
Stamps has made numerous stops on his storied coaching journey, most recently at SIU-Edwardsville from 2010-13 before joining ETSU. In 2012, he served as the head coach of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s national team. Before leading the Saudis into international competition at the 2012 World Junior Championships and the London Games, Stamps took a sabbatical from SIUE to develop and recruit Saudi Arabia's top junior competitors while coaching elite-level athletes. Stamps also had stops at Florida International and Miami, coaching FIU’s pentathlon and heptathlon school record holder and leading six athletes to conference and NCAA honors at The U.
As an athlete, Stamps etched his name into the Tennessee record books as a blue-chip sprinter and hurdler from 1999-2002. He earned five All-American certificates and helped the Volunteers to the 2001 NCAA Division I Outdoor Championship and the 2002 NCAA Division I Indoor Championship. Stamps also helped the Vols to back-to-back outdoor Southeastern Conference (SEC) titles in 2001 and 2002 as well as serving as a team captain during the aforementioned championship seasons. In the classroom, the student-athlete was also named the SEC Track & Field Scholar Athlete of the Year in 2001.
Steven Sanchez — Assistant Coach (Throws)
Entering his third season with ETSU’s track and field program, Steven Sanchez works directly with the throwers on the men’s and women’s track and field teams. Prior to ETSU, Sanchez has made coaching stops at Division II King University and Division III Plattsburg State University.
Under his leadership the past two seasons, ETSU has produced multiple conference champions in throwing events while also coaching throws athletes to five school records. In his debut season as the throws coach, ETSU won championships in the men’s discus and men’s javelin. At the 2018 Southern Conference Outdoor Championships, ETSU won championships in the men’s and women’s javelin.
Sanchez has worked closely with Ben Johnson while at ETSU, who has left his mark in the Buccaneer history book with multiple records in both indoor and outdoor throwing events. Sanchez also accompanied Johnson during his run as a 2018 Second Team Division I Indoor Track & Field All-American in the men’s weight throw.
As an athlete, Sanchez competed at ASA College in New York before transferring to NCAA DII member Limestone College from 2012-15, helping the Saints win the 2013 Conference Carolinas Outdoor Championship. He was named all-conference three times in the shot put and earned third team honors during the indoor season in 2014 and 2015. During his senior year, Sanchez was the Conference Carolinas Outdoor champion in the shot put and was the Conference Carolinas Scholar Athlete of the Year for men's track and field.
Catherine Layne — Assistant Coach (Women’s Distance)
A decorated ETSU runner and now third year assistant coach, Catherine Layne specializes in the development of distance runners on the women’s cross country and track teams.
The former Catherine Berry is an ETSU Hall of Fame inductee, earning the 1997 Southern Conference cross country runner of the year award and All-American honors in the 5K for the 2000 season. She also won SoCon track titles in 1998 and 2000 and still holds the ETSU record in the outdoor 5K with a time of 16:00.97. She also made six trips to the NCAA Championships, three in cross country and three in track.
Michael Lockhart — Assistant Coach (Horizontal Jumps)
Another standout for the Buccaneer track and field program as an athlete, Lockhart returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach and has overseen the horizontal jumping events for ETSU the last three seasons.
Lockhart competed for ETSU from 2009-13 and was an all-Atlantic Sun long jumper from his freshman to senior seasons. Lockhart was also instrumental in ETSU winning both the 2011 and 2012 Outdoor ASUN Championships for the Bucs.
Among the athletes Lockhart has coached over his three seasons, Patrick Taylor earned the 2017 indoor conference title in the long jump, Kyra Atkins earned the outdoor long jump title in 2016 and Karon Delince placed runner up in the long jump at the 2018 conference championships as a freshman while earning indoor and outdoor freshman of the year honors.