Howarth named DEN 2023 Coach of the Year


Eastern Illinois University Athletics

Cross Country Coach Erin Howarth accepts OVC Cross Country Coach of the year award after the Conference Championship Saturday afternoon, Oct. 29, 2022, at Putnam County Sports Complex in Cookeville, Tenn.

Kate Stevens, Assistant Sports Editor

Winning coach of the year is nothing new for Erin Howarth.

Howarth is the head coach of Eastern’s cross country team and the distance coach for the track and field team.

Since being hired in 2010, Howarth has won OVC coach of the year six times. Her most recent two times being in 2022 as she was awarded both men’s and women’s OVC coach of the year.

She previously won OVC men’s cross country coach of the year in 2020 and 2021 and OVC women’s cross country coach of the year in 2011 and 2019.

In her time at EIU, Howarth has led the men’s cross country team to win the OVC championship three consecutive times in 2020, 2021, and 2022. She also led the women’s team to OVC championship victory in 2011 and 2022.

Howarth has coached countless runners over the years. These runners have gone on to become All-OVC runners, OVC champion runners, OVC runners of the year, and All-Midwest Region runners.

Howarth said her favorite thing about her job is that she can impact these young student athlete’s lives.

“My favorite thing is that I have the opportunity each and every day to impact young people’s lives,” Howarth said. “It’s my choice how I utilize every interaction and each situation. I also love that no two days are ever the same in this career. I always try to bring humor and a smile. I know being a student athlete is stressful so I do my best to make it fun while also keeping the expectations high.”

She said she feels she won coach of the year because of each of the runners that she coaches. She also said the team this year has built something special as they have worked hard for the championships won and all of their individual achievements.

“This team has built something so special and worked so hard at each part of what it takes to be an elite distance runner,” Howarth said. “They push each other to new levels and encourage each other to be their very best self. No one is selfish in what and how they operate. You just don’t get that in every group of people that comes together as a team. That is what brings me the most happiness.”

She said the most important thing to her is that the runners develop both on and off the tracks and courses.

“The success of X’s and O’s doesn’t mean nearly as much to me as it does to see each person develop on and off the track/course,” Howarth said. “I love to see the growth throughout their career, especially in their confidence and their leadership abilities.”

Howarth said she would like to continue finding and recruiting the runners with the best mentalities because that’s what it takes to create a successful team.

“I’ll continue to recruit good people and people who believe in the team first mentality,” Howarth said. “If we have that foundationally within every person on the team, the rest will take care of itself.”


Kate Stevens can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]