By Michelle Gardner
Tacy Duncan’s job just got a lot easier.
Trying to compete in one of the premier conferences in the country was tough enough. And when Duncan took over three years ago the program was the conference doormat.
She did that while holding down a full-time job in the Alvord Unified School District in Riverside. Then a year ago motherhood factored into the mix as she gave berth to twins.
But the load has been lightened considerably as Duncan’s position has been elevated to full time. She becomes the first full-time coach in the 11-year history of the program.
The school had planned on making the full-time appointment last year but the timing wasn’t right so it was put on hold until this year.
Duncan had to go through the interview process all over again with job having to be advertised, even though she had done a stellar job in her three years as a part-time coach, highlighted by her selection as CCAA coach of the year by her peers.
She was still the best person for the job.
“We got a good pool of applicants,” Cal State athletic director Kevin Hatcher said. “But I think much of the reason for that was the success she had last year and the recognition she brought to our program. We couldn’t not look at what she has been able to do in a short time.”
The Coyotes are coming off their best season in school history. Cal State went 36-32 overall (17-13 in CCAA play), advancing to the postseason for the first time ever. They also advanced to the Division II West Region, before being eliminated by Humboldt State which went on to win the national championship.
That was a significant improvement over the 2007 season in which the Coyotes were sixth in the conference and 27-27 overall.
The team went 21-32 in Duncan’s first year and that represented a 10-win improvement over the previous year.
To put the progress in perspective, the Coyotes were a combined 38-129 overall and 24-70 in conference play the three seasons before Duncan took over.
Hatcher said he expects the program to continue to grow, thanks in part to the Western Interchange Program adopted by the school for the coming calendar year. The program gives all students from the western part of the country in-state tuition. That should make it easier for coaches to lure in top talent from out of the area.
“I see how well she has done evaluating talent,” he said. “I can’t imagine how much better she will do with more time to do it.”
But Hatcher said the school will still stick to its core area for the majority of its players.
“We have great talent in this area,” he said. “There is no reason we shouldn’t get the bulk of our players from around here.”
Duncan earned her bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Mary in North Dakota where she also earned All-American honors as a player. She got a master’s in counseling from the University of Redlands while serving as an assistant coach from 2002 to 2005.
Seven of the Coyotes 11 head coaches are full time. The exceptions are women’s tennis coach Heather Lehman, women’s water polo coach Tom Finwall, women’s cross country coach Tom Burleson and men’s golf coach Tom Mainez.
Hatcher said he would eventually like to have the other four coaches at full-time status as well.
“I’m asking them to go out there and win conference titles and it’s hard for me to look them in the face and ask them to do it when this is their second job.”