Last Saturday, Oswego State Athletic Director Tim Hale was given the New York State Collegiate Track Conference Service Award: a very prestigious honor.
"I was really humbled by it," Hale said. "The group has been in existence since 1950 and I think they’ve only given out four of these awards prior to this year."
Hale’s contributions to cross-country, track and field and the NYSCTC were prevalent in his more than 30 years as a coach and athletic director in New York state.
Hale graduated from SUNY Cortland in 1968 with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education and Health. He continued on to get his master’s degree at Canisius College.
Soon after acquiring his master’s, he was hired at LeMoyne College as a part-time coach. According to Hale, he continued that job for three years until he decided that he wanted to attend school again to eventually become a head coach.
He then moved to SUNY Plattsburgh to fill in for a coach on sabbatical leave for one year. However, the coach never returned and he was offered the job, along with a job at the University of Rochester.
"(The University of) Rochester gave the opportunity for my wife and I to be closer to our families," Hale said. "Once I got there, I found that I liked the place. One thing led to another and the next thing I know I’d been there 27 years."
While at the University of Rochester, Hale coached both men’s and women’s cross-country and track and field. He also began the women’s program at U of R; another credential in his illustrious career.
However, most of Hale’s coaching accomplishments came from men’s cross country. During his 27-year tenure as coach, his team won 15 NYSCTC Championships, including an unprecedented and conference record ten straight from 1987-1996. He helped mold four individual national champions and 58 total All-Americans.
"The student-athletes that I worked with during that stretch were very willing to adopt a sensible lifestyle in order to achieve at a very high level," Hale said. "Success breeds success. We weren’t always the best team, but we believed we were."
At one point toward the end of the ten-year reign, the team was very vulnerable, Hale said. Two standout runners were sick and unable to perform, and their two likely reserves were also sick. Instead of putting in the reserves, Hale chose to have the two starters warm up as if they were going to run and go to the starting gate.
"When the gun went off they just stood there," Hale said. "They (the other runners) went out and ran; my guys put their sweats back on and went and got in their car and drove home."
The remaining five University of Rochester runners were able to perform strongly enough to pull off the win. Amazingly enough, this was no ordinary meet. It was the NYSCTC Championship.
The 1991 NYSCTC Championships proved to be a memorable experience for Hale’s squad. The team posted a perfect score of 15, relatively unheard of at a conference championship. Only the Villanova women, Arkansas men and University of Rochester men achieved the feat in 1991. A perfect score requires you to finish in the top five spots, and adding all these up equals 15.
Unfortunately for Hale, his runner in first at the four-mile mark was "not a really confident kid" and slowed his pace, allowing the pack to catch him. He eventually finished seventh overall.
"Instead of saying ‘man I’m really kicking some butt today’ the thing that went through his mind is ‘I must be going too fast,’" Hale said.
This team went on to capture the NCAA Division III Championship in November of that year. Hale’s accomplishments, however, are not limited to coaching. While at LeMoyne, he became involved in working with a constitution for the men’s organization.
"On a yearly basis you’d go through and see if there’s anything you need to adapt, change, throw out or add in," Hale said. "I was at Rochester when we put the two constitutions (men’s and women’s) together."
Hale’s work as an athletic director began in 1998 when he was hired as the Associate Athletic Director at the University of Rochester. His desire for the sole title of athletic director led him to Greece Arcadia High School. He stayed on staff for three years.
"It was a very good experience, I learned a lot of things," Hale said. "One of them was that I wanted to get back into college."
Hale arrived at Oswego State as the new athletic director in August of 2003.