Jordan Fife assumed interim head coaching roles for the women’s track and field team on June 30, after former head coach Ron Boyce announced he was leaving the program after 22 seasons.
Missouri State athletic director Kyle Moats said filling a head coaching position depends on the situation. Sometimes an interim head coach is needed immediately after the season ends while actively looking for a head coach, such as Corey Gipson when he took over as interim head men’s basketball coach between Paul Lusk and Dana Ford.
Sometimes an interim head coach is needed to fill a gap for an extended period of time to assess whether or not someone is a good fit.
That’s the case with Jordan Fife. When Fife expressed interest in the head coaching position for track and field, Moats decided that Fife would maintain a one-season interim period in order to make sure everything went smoothly.
Fife has been the head cross-country coach and assistant track and field coach for Missouri State since 2014. He said he felt ready to do more for the track and field program and he is excited for the opportunity.
Moats said one thing he looks for in a head coach is someone who can handle the budget well and recruit hard.
“We wanted to see how he would handle the new role,” Moats said in regard to why Fife was named interim coach instead of head coach when Royce left.
Fife said he knew he would be able to handle the behind-the-scenes duties that come with being a head coach because of his cross-country duties, and as assistant to Royce, he knew what to expect for the position. Fife said as the distance coach under Royce, he cheered on every athlete but felt more like a spectator. Now, he said he gets to focus on every athlete and every event, which he thoroughly enjoys.
Moats said they will evaluate the year at the end of the current season and if everything worked out, then Fife would take over as head coach.
“We just wanted him to prove himself,” Moats said. “If it goes well, then great. I’m good with that.”
Moats said Fife did receive a little more compensation when given the interim head coaching position, because the role is a bit more to take on.
Moats said each interim situation is different and must be assessed differently.
“There’s no manual for what to do in these situations,” Moats said. “We’ve met with Jordan, checking in on recruiting and relationship with athletes, just like we would a head coach.”
Moats said he feels comfortable with Fife at the helm of the track and field team. While Fife’s expertise is in long-distance, Moats said Fife did well by adding Olympian and “Fastest Woman Alive,” Carmelita Jeter, to the coaching staff. Moats went on to say that is what a good head coach does — surrounds himself with experts in areas where the head coach isn’t as familiar with.
“We are operating as if it’s official,” Fife said regarding the coaching staff. He does not plan to bring on any more staff as of right now, should he be offered the position.
Fife said he is excited for outdoor season and is ready to see what they can produce this spring with their sights set on the conference meet.
“We didn’t do as well as we hoped in indoor, and we’re excited to show what we’re capable of,” Fife said.