Crossing the Finish Line Heath Retires After 46-year Tenure; Miller Fills His Shoes
It wasn’t long after Neil Armstrong made history as the first man to walk on the moon and the Woodstock Festival became a seminal musical event that Randy Heath (69) became a coach at Oklahoma Christian.
Randy was a multi-sport athlete for the Eagles, competing in cross country for three years, track for two years, and baseball for three years.
Invited in 1969 by then-OC athletic director Ray Vaughn, Sr., to coach the men’s cross country team and assist him with the track and field squad, Randy began an odyssey that ended in May when he retired from coaching after 46 years on OC’s athletic staff.
It’s been a great career. It’s been a blessing to me personally and to my family. Randy Heath
Randy will remain on staff as the chairman of OC’s sports, wellness, and recreation management program and will continue teaching.
“It’s been a great career,” Randy said. “It’s been a blessing to me personally and to my family. If you like it and you enjoy it and can be good at it, then you stay at OC. It’s a place to build a career. This has been a good group of coaches at OC. I’ve enjoyed working with them.”
When Vaughn retired as the track head coach in 1979, Randy took over that program and has run it ever since. He helped begin the women’s track and cross country programs, which first competed during the 1986-87 academic year.
He stepped down from his cross country duties in 2006, but has continued coaching track and field.
All told, Randy spent 38 years as the men’s cross country head coach, 21 years as the women’s cross country head coach, 36 years as the men’s track head coach and 29 years as the women’s track head coach.
He was inducted into the OC Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997 and into the NAIA Hall of Fame in 2004.
He’s a 10-time winner of coach of the year awards from either NAIA District 9 or the Sooner Athletic Conference. In District 9 competition, his teams won 12 men’s titles and five women’s titles.
Randy coached 90 OC student-athletes to either NAIA or NCCAA All-America honors a combined 236 times. In cross country, he coached nine runners to a total of 12 NAIA All-America honors.
Wade Miller (06), OC’s cross country coach since 2012, will succeed Randy as head coach of the men’s and women’s track and field programs.
Wade was a three-time national qualifier in cross country and track and a two-time NAIA Scholar-Athlete. He also was a three-time member of the CoSIDA Academic All-District team.
Wade was an assistant coach when the Eagles won the 2011 NAIA championship and was head coach when they claimed the 2012 NCCAA crown, earning NCCAA Coach of the Year honors.
“Looking back on my time as an athlete, I remember Coach Heath was always working behind the scenes to help people. He was great about encouraging people through academic difficulties or helping people through the various struggles of college life,” Wade said. “He has been very helpful in my coaching career and I hope to run the program as efficiently and with the success he has had, while at the same time upholding a very high standard of character.”
View more stories from the Summer 2015 issue of Vision magazine.