By JOE RICHEY
As the head men’s and women’s cross country and track coach, Todd McDaniel is less recognizable than Bill Cronin or Chris Briggs. This part-time mentor might even draw a blank amongst fellow athletic coaches, despite weekly meetings with the athletic director, the result of a full-time job that often prevents him from attending. Undeterred by this lack of visibility, he dedicates more than adequate time and effort to his team and sport. “Todd has an unparalleled passion,” said senior Tyler Doolittle.
Todd, or “Toad” as the team fondly calls him, was born and raised in Franklin County and attended Georgetown College from 1998 to 2002, during which he ran cross country and co-captained the team his junior and senior year. He was also a member of the Lambda Chi fraternity, active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes organization and boasts of never losing an intramural ultimate frisbee game. He still found ample time for his share of college shenanigans, such as the time he and a few cohorts removed all of a neighbor’s possessions from his room while he visited next door. Upon discovery of the empty room, they innocently inquired the neighbor why he always left his window open. “He’s a jokester,” sprinter Kelsey Gregory said.
Todd remained with the team as an assistant coach after graduation and became head coach in 2009. “I started coaching to have some people to run with and stay in shape, but over the years I began to love coaching. I coach because I am very passionate about running and getting the best out of my athletes. I enjoy watching my athletes obtain their goals on the course/track and in life.” He completed four marathons, including Boston, and coached six NAIA cross country national championship qualifiers. He settled into his grandparents’ house, a half mile from his childhood home, which is the house his grandfather grew up in, prompting freshman Cole Cisneros to coin the nickname “Homebody Todd.”
Away from the course he can be found conducting endangered species surveys or catching bats for his job as a biologist at HMB Engineering, kayaking from Lexington to Frankfort over a weekend with old college friends or raucously enjoying a snowball fight with the team. His pastoral personality is reflected in his favorite musical artists, who include The Avett Brothers, Mumford & Sons, The Black Keys, Dave Matthews Band and Guster, although he can be heard reciting lyrics of such 90s rap luminaries as Tupac. His favorite movie is “Into the Wild” and his favorite television program is “Modern Family” or the History Channel. This past fall he and his wife of nearly six years, also a Georgetown alum, welcomed their first child, William. “During the season I don’t see my wife as much as I would like to. Sometimes she is going to bed when I walk in the door from practice.”
Todd’s athletes described him as “the perfect combination of goofy and serious,” and with “the demeanor of a four-year–old.” Todd says, “I sometimes feel like I am their parent away from home and I hope they feel the same.”